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Magnet Theater Blog

Wednesday April 19, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Queen of dinosaurs, BECCA SCHALL, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss her 10-minute play “Goofus & Gallant,” how she has grown alongside the Magnet’s sketch program, and duh, makeover shows! We find out from where Becca draws inspiration and what her sketch writing process looks like. Her team, Dinosaur Jones, moves to Friday nights starting April 21st but you can find out all about her right now!

Our episode begins with Louis asking Becca about her contribution to Magnet Theater’s 10-Minute Play Festival, “Goofus & Gallant.” They get into the differences between writing sketch and writing something a bit longer and Becca shares her fascination with the “Highlights” characters the play is based upon. Listen also to find out who Becca Schall was before she came to Magnet Sketch Teams and what the struggling life of an actor can be like!

Since finding sketch comedy at Magnet, Becca has grown a great deal and we find out how exactly she has changed since she’s been in the program. She and Louis talk about honing your voice and learning what your sensibilities are, Louis asks about the kinds of things she finds herself writing these days, and they both discuss the legendarily bad movie “The Room.” Becca tells of being inspired by everyday daydreams, growing a sketch from a small nugget, and how she works from an analytical process. Our two heroes both agree that makeover shows are sad and weird and Louis shares with us an excellent episode of Hoarders. Outside of comedy, Becca can often be found nannying and, as such, Louis asks her to dish on what kids are into these days. Finally, Becca shares with us where her comedy compass is pointing and where she hopes to go.

Don’t forget to check out Becca’s team, Dinosaur Jones, performing each Friday at 7pm from now until the end of June with a new show each month!!

Thursday April 13, 2017, 12:29pm - by Magnet Theater

large_thecircuit

Magnet is very excited to announce that the next season of Conservatory Circuit is now open for applications! What is Conservatory Circuit, you ask? Why, it’s just like the regular Circuit, except it’s open only to students who have been accepted into Magnet’s Conservatory program (Level 5 and above). It’s an awesome way to work weekly with an ensemble and coach as well as get more reps under your belt. We highly recommend it!

KEY DATES:
Application deadline: Saturday, April 22nd at noon
Team announcements: Wednesday, April 26th
Shows: Fridays at 10pm; May 5th through June 9th at the Magnet Training Center Studio

What are you waiting for? Check out the details and apply now!

Questions, thoughts, comments, or concerns can be directed to circuit@magnettheater.com.

Wednesday April 12, 2017, 12:53pm - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

 

What’s your name?

Emma Rogers

Which team or show are you on?

Stockton

Where are you from?

Connecticut

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I started out taking acting classes at my liberal arts college and a teacher believed in me enough to tell me to take it more seriously. I then got to take classes at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London because this broad has dual citizenship, baby!! I distinctly remember loving an exercise we did in characterization where you had to pick a prop out of a box and improvise an entire backstory. In that moment, I totally dipped into the joy of improvising. There was overtures of Symphony No. 9 going off in my head as this happened. A few existential crises later and I moved to NYC, started taking comedy classes and I’ve been smitten ever since.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I’d say about 8 years…that feels crazy to say. I still have so much to learn!

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

This is the hardest question on earth because I am interested in so many people. Lately, I’ve been super into the convergence of performance art and comedy. But if I had to choose, I’d say John Early. I’m obsessed with not only is style of comedy but the cinematic aesthetic of his videos (ahem 555, ahem the Characters). He takes small painful moments and celebrates them. He’s a mad genius in my eyes. John, just give me a shout the next time you’re in Brooklyn!! We’ll get strawberry smoothies.

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Christopher Guest

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Commitment to awkward bits and doing them too long.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

Huge question, love it, glad you asked. It starts out like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song, ya know a lot of crash, bang, wallop then it gets sweet and a little melancholy with some Cranberries. Then it gets fun with some T. Rex turning lovey dovey with some Al Green, some Beach Boys, some Roy Orbison. As we get into the brooding phase we get a lot of the Cure, Crystal Stilts, David Bowie. Then it turns purely Celtic as I connect to me people’s roots. I’m talking full traditional Celtic folk music with a dash of ambient late Brian Eno. I could go on but I’d be amazed if you’re still reading this.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Is that a toupee or just a merkin glued to your scalp?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

In my robe, dancing in the mirror.

If you could choose your own nickname, what would it be? 

If I could choose my own nickname it would be Emma Flamethrower Rogers instead of ‘Skidmark Nincompoop’ the one I earned on that class trip to Vermont where there was only one bathroom….

 

Tuesday April 11, 2017, 11:41pm - by Magnet Theater

 

Chicago defector, ASHLEY GLICKEN, joins host Louis Kornfeld us to discuss improv, how attempts at “diversity” often exclude disabled people, and why accessibility and representation matter so very much. Ashley has been improvising since she was sixteen years old and has a wealth of insight to share from her own life experience, so get on board as she drops some serious knowledge. Huzzah!

Louis begins this episode with one of the hardest-hitting questions of all time: Chicago or New York City? A native of the Chicago suburbs now living in NYC, Ashley must make a choice! Wisely, she walks us through the pros and cons of the two great cities before telling us why she eventually escaped from Chicago. Ashley has been improvising since she was sixteen and returned to the Windy City after college to go through Second City’s Conservatory Program. Upon graduation from the Conservatory, Ashley felt that she was limited by the lack of accessibility found amongst Chicago’s various improv stages and soon stopped improvising. Ashley was drawn to NYC by its visual art scene and, lucky for us, she eventually found herself at Magnet. Though she was nervous to begin her first class after some time away from improv, she had the good fortune to study with instructor Nick Kanellis, big sib Hannah Chase, and a class full of wonderful fellow students.

Ashley talks about the fact that attempts at “diversity” often do not include disabled people and what the root causes of that problem might be. She also dives into the pressure she feels to educate the greater public and how the world needs adapt so that it can better serve not only disabled people but, indeed, everyone. She and Louis also talk about why representation matters so very much and how every time Ashley is on stage, she feels that she’s there, in part, for the disabled community.

There’s a bunch of other great stuff in this episode as well. Louis and Ashley discuss how great it feels to be “in on the joke,” allowing people to laugh with you rather than laugh at you, as well as the pain that comes with being laughed at. They talk about the limitless realm of possibility that improv allows us to command and they discuss how we adapt and get stronger by forcing ourselves to look at all parts of life, not merely the familiar bits, but those which make us uncomfortable as well. Finally, a Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles.

Thursday April 6, 2017, 10:00am - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

 

What’s your name?

Erin Marie Nebel

Which team or show are you on?

Tallulah

Where are you from?

Dubuque, IA

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

I was working a quintessential NYC job with an unreasonable boss (i.e. Devil Wears Prada) and I needed something outside of work, sleeping, and crying in Battery Park on my lunch break. I wanted to return to my first love- acting, but I knew I didn’t have time to read plays, memorize scenes, rehearse, etc. So I thought, improv… you just show up right? I took a free intro class with Rick Andrews and laughed so hard that I used a computer in the Magnet office to sign up for a level one starting the next day – I haven’t left since.

How long have you been performing/writing?

I have been doing improv for 3.5 years.

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Sir Ian McKellen or Lucille Ball

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for? 

Lucille Ball / Zelda Fitzgerald / Annie Oakley / Slyvia Plath / Mary Wollstonecraft / Marilyn Monroe

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Animals

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

An original collaboration between John Williams, Bon Iver, Alabama Shakes, Florence Welch, James Vincent McMorrow, and Sia.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Did you know that studies show the greatest predictor of sexual satisfaction in a heterosexual marriage is the amount of male participation in domestic chores and that higher male involvement in traditionally female designated chores is more strongly correlated with greater reported sexual satisfaction?

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

These days, watching The Great British Bakeoff. Other possibilities include volunteering as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault/domestic violence, working on a NYTimes crossword, or watching videos on youtube of unlikely animal friendships recent favorites include: wolves and bears, pigs and tigers, and hedgehogs and dogs.

What is your favorite movie quote? 

“You’re killing me, Smalls!”  – The Sandlot

 

Wednesday April 5, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

Perennial Magnet all-star, CHRISTIAN PALUCK, stops by to talk about his journey in comedy, being a more open person, and why he recently started drawing. From Emerson, to LA, to NYC, Christian brings a crapload of experience to the stage and insight to this episode. He and Louis dig into some great topics and, honestly, you’re gonna friggin’ love it. Huzzah!

After butchering the pronunciation of Christian’s last name, Louis wonders why we often freeze up when on the mic we are able to perform live in front of hundreds of people effortlessly. They explore this common occurrence and Christian explains why he doesn’t like anything that focuses on expectations. Louis asks Christian what he was doing before he got into improv and Christian tells of going to Emerson College for television production and then ending up in LA. He was introduced to formal improv by his college friend Anthony Atamanuik and eventually moved to NYC to take classes at Gotham City Improv and UCB. He tells of being challenged by a particular UCB class and then pausing from improv to go into stand-up. Eventually, he came back to improv after finding Armando Diaz’s “Instant Brilliance” class and he’s been at Magnet ever since.

Going from one journey to another, Louis asks Christian about being a father. How has having a kid changed how Christian manages embarrassment? He talks about quitting his day job to pursue acting full-time when he had a kid so that he could show his son that you have to follow your gut and fight for what you love. I mean, holy shit, right? This is great podcasting. Louis and Christian explore the overwhelming feeling that bubbles up when you can’t solve a major life problem and Christian talks about being a more open person and how improv can help you tap into that.

When coaching improv, Christian likes to focus on the balance between an improviser’s desire to act on instinct versus being polite, all while not being a jerk to your teammates. Our two heroes talk about how improv attracts a lot of smart people who maybe procrastinate too much and Christian wonders, “Why do billionaires worry about traffic?” They also discuss how Christian is perceived as a quiet, perhaps intimidating guy, though we all know he’s a big softy. Speaking of! Louis asks Christian about the drawings that he’s been working on! To round out the episode they ask the hard-hitting questions: What’s actually important to me? What do I really think is fucked up? And, am I brave enough to be judged for it? Good stuff, gents.

Monday April 3, 2017, 11:38am - by Megan Gray
Musical Megawatt - Musical Improv

We are thrilled to announce the newest additions to our Musical Megawatt lineup! Catch these new teams in action this Tuesday, April 4th at 7, 8, 9 and 10pm.

New Team Crosby
Russ Feder
Brendan Goggins
Margaret Lyons
Adam Payne
Jackie Skinner
Justin Torres
Catherine Wing

New Team Stills
Chris Bell
Jessica Coyle
Amanda Mayer
Garett Press
Melanie Rubin
Cian Smith
Steve Whyte

New Team Nash
Lorraine Cink
Jennette Cronk
Eitan Levine
Maryann Menzies
Charlie Nicholson
Ali Reed
Brian Rodriguez

New Team Young
Samara Breger
Tim Canty
Keilana Decker
Dan Iwrey
Jayme Mattler
Billy Soco
Curry Whitmire

Wednesday March 29, 2017, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

 

The messed-up, sick, twisted teens of My Dark Little Corner take over the Magnet Theater Podcast to answer questions from their fans and tell the world to go screw. Listen to this episode if you hate the establishment and want to discover band secrets like who’s the oldest member or why Kyle got in trouble at school. Go see them live in concert this Friday (3/31) at 11:30 pm in The My Dark Little Corner Show: Episode 1 – Dr. Stredain Chaperones!

Monday March 27, 2017, 11:59am - by Magnet Theater

At the February edition of The Griot Show, hosted by Alexis Lambright, Dahlia Ramsay told a wonderful story about a late-night Halal cart run, white allyship, and how improv lessons can be translated to real life. That story is transcribed below. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Dahlia Ramsay from The Griot Show – February 13, 2017

So anywho, Imma tell you about my Friday night, last night. Cool? Awesome. So, I went out last Friday night and I stayed out way too late. Way later than I thought I would. And I knew it was gonna be some bullshit to get home. If anyone went out last Friday night you know that the trains were all messed up. So I said, “Let me get some halal first, for the ride.”

So, I go up to the halal cart. It’s the one on 1st and 1st in the East Village. And I go up to the halal cart, and I give the dude my order. And he’s a very nice man. Really clean cart. I definitely recommend it. The two other dudes there, these two Black dudes that were there. And we’re making small talk, and they’re trying to holler, and they’re lovely. And we’re just chatting all four of us. And then so after not too long, these three other girls walk up. These three Latin girls. And they are DRUNK. And hilarious, and adorable. And they’re up from Miami visiting. And the Black dudes, one was from New York, and one was from Houston. So we’re all just chatting. And they’re all drunk. I’m the only sober one. And we’re being ridiculous and bullshitting, and being loud, and the Halal guy is laughing.

And finally the dude from Houston asks the girls, “So where are you ladies from?” and one of them goes
“Nicaragua” (strong Spanish accent).
And he’s like “What?”
“NI-CA-RA-GUA! Say it!” She’s getting like… “Say my country!” [Laughter]
And he’s messing up, can’t say it. And she says “It’s in Latin America. Trump hates us too! Trump hates me!”
And the Black dude from New York is like “Nah nah nah nah nah, Trump hates ME. He hates us, alright? He been hating Black people. This Mexican thing is some new shit.”

And so, the conversation turns from like, bullshitting about bullshit, to bullshitting about politics. And finally after these people arguing about which group of people Trump hates more, the halal guy goes “Ah-hem,” clears throat, and points finger in the air, “Uh yea…I think I have you guys beat.”

And I fell out. I was laughing, I was dying, I was embarrassed. I was the only person there kinda outside seeing this go down and didn’t even occur to me either how ridiculous it was that we were arguing about this while homie was making our food, right there. So it got me thinking about The Griot Show, and solidarity more specifically, and allyship. And what that means.

‘Tis the season that we are honoring Black lives past and present. And honoring their stories, and complexities, and truths. And it occurred to me a while back, and it seemed appropriate for tonight, that there is a strand of stories that we don’t hear about. And I’m not talking about the Ida B. Wells or that one lady on the flyer for The Griot Show, where I was like “I don’t know who that is!” I’m talking about allies. White allies specifically. People of privilege. And how allies can become accomplices. And what that means and what that looks like.

I’m a pretty well-educated person. And here’s a bit of trivia. Can anyone name a white ally from the civil rights movement? Yes? One? Can we see if a non-host knows? You?
Audience: Bernie Sanders!
A: Shush! Is that what you were going to say?
A: Harriet Beecher Stowe?

Ohhhhh, no okay okay. History break, you guys. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin. So that was further back. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Alright, I give this tour on NYC gospel, I’m a tour guide, so we could go into that because she’s a very interesting lady, and her whole family. But anyway Bernie Sanders is a good one. Anyone else? What were you going to say?
A: I was gonna say the two guys who were killed… James? Morgan?

Okay, see my point? Thank you. So we don’t know. And that I think is a detriment. It’s a detriment to the Civil Rights movement, it’s a detriment to all current movements now, particularly a detriment to any person of privilege or a white person who has no historical models for what allyship and solidarity looks like.

So, in this post-Barack Shock, that we’re living in. What does this all look like? And before I begin to attempt to answer that question, there’s a few things you should know about me. 1. I am currently in grad school in a program called Applied Theatre. And there’s a whole ‘nother story about what that is. [Applause] That means something!? Applied Theatre means something?? Oh my gosh. That’s good for me. I might get a job. And we’re reading–there’s a whole lot of reading in grad school–and the book we’re currently reading now is Theatre of the Oppressed, and it’s based on a book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In T.O.T.O. Augusto Boal says that participatory theatre in and of itself is not revolutionary, but it is rehearsal for the revolution.

Another thing you should know about me is I’ve been doing improv here at the Magnet community that I love so much for about three years. The Magnet is my valentine officially. I’ve never felt unsafe. It’s always been a very safe space for me. But I’ve been more concerned lately with how we can take our safe spaces and turn them into brave spaces. Turn them out, into brave spaces. More specifically, how we can use these muscles and reflexes that we spend hours honing and exercising that overall support community and having someone’s back and making decisions and having emotions and taking action.

And I know I’m not the first person to take improv principles and apply them to life. But I thought it would be worth–and I’m asking myself, and I’m asking you–how we can translate some of these action principles that we’ve learned in our classes to help guide us in moments when we are called to action. And obviously, that’s not always foolproof. We’ll mess up, like we do in scenes. Some of us know. But I made a little chart. Is it okay if I fuck around with a chart? Cool. So this is an infinite list of improv principles. The list isn’t infinite, but it goes on. And you can do this for yourself. So this is an exercise I did for myself. I’ll say some of these improv principles, and I’ll translate some, and others I won’t. And you can just like infer what that might mean for you. Okay?

– Don’t lean completely on your scene partner.
Translation: Don’t expect people of color or other oppressed people to do all the emotional and intellectual labor for you.
Okay? Okay! We’ll clap. We’ll clap after each one. This is a Louis Kornfeld one.
– It is better to disagree to agree than it is to agree to disagree.
To me what that means is if you just agree to disagree that’s like the most intellectually lazy thing you can do and it’s basically very dismissive. But! If you can disagree in order to agree, in that there is something that you’re moving towards then you’re actually engaging.
– Start in the middle of the scene
Don’t reinvent the wheel. We have a history. We are somewhere in the middle of that arc that supposedly leans towards justice, right? So, know your history. Start in the middle of the scene.
– Group games. If you don’t know a group game is you basically establish a pattern early on, and like a pattern of expectation, but often in a group game, at some point that expectation is broken or subverted.
Translation: Systems of oppression can be broken.
– Beware of ironic indifference and apathy. If you’re an improviser you know this kind of tends to just kill a scene.
Translation: Silence is violence
– A character is someone who’s not you.
I’ll leave that one there.
– Check in with your scene partner at the top of the scene.
– What matters most is how we affect each other.
– Emotion drives the action
– If you’re standing on the sidelines and thinking “Uh, I’m glad I’m not out there”… get out there.

So if you’re someone who hasn’t done improv before but you’re curious about it, this gives you a little insight into what I do and why I love it. And I totally invite you to take the free class that Magnet offers. If you’re a veteran improviser and a person of privilege, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what to do or how to be in this world these days…” you DO. It just takes a little translation.

Thank you.

Transcribed by Francesca Hays.

Listen here:

Friday March 24, 2017, 1:57pm - by Promo Team

Welcome to Magnet’s “Getting To Know” series! We’re using our blog to highlight our fabulous performers and writers and we can’t wait for you to meet them. Want to see them all? Click here.

What’s your name?

Johnathan Ross

Which team or show are you on?

Youths/The Nitro Girls

Where are you from?

Alabama/Georgia

How did you get into improv/sketch comedy?

Started improv to improve stand-up skills and then I just never stopped doing it.

How long have you been performing/writing?

2.5 years

Who in all the world would be your ideal scene or writing partner?

Probably Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or “Key and Peele”

Who would you most like to impersonate or write for?

I’d like to impersonate Obama. And I’d love to write for/with Donald Glover.

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Smart dark comedy or straight up dumb dumb simple stuff. Black White Supremacist and Valet Workers are 2 examples.

Describe the soundtrack to your life!

It’s mostly Kanye with Chance the Rapper, Childish Gambino, Beyonce, and Solange sprinkled throughout. Kendrick Lamar would get a lot of features and DJ Khaled would probably do all the mixing. Alabama Shakes would make a surprising appearance as would Miley Cyrus.

What’s something you’d ask when meeting someone for the first time?

Did you see/Do you watch [current movie/show I’m obsessed with]. Right now it’d be Mr. Robot or Blair Witch

Where can we find you on a Saturday night?

At a movie, at home watching Netflix, out doing Karaoke, in a show, or grabbing drinks with friends.