There are two teams on this particular night, Team Lincoln and Team Buddha. And the house is packed. It’s standing room only at the Magnet Training Center Studio, and the crowd is laughing.
The Circuit was the brainchild of Mark Grenier, the Magnet’s Senior Level One instructor. I told Magnet that I wanted to write a blog post about The Circuit, and it was really overdue, so when I saw Mark in the elevator I cornered him awkwardly and peppered him with questions. “It’s about stage time. Nothing beats stage time.” Mark tried to leave but I pressed all the buttons. Trapped, he told me that the team structure at Magnet worked well but there were skilled players ready to be on stage that had yet to win a slot on a Megawatt team. “They weren’t being served because just waiting for the next round of team auditions is not the best way to prepare for team auditions. So we built The Circuit.” I was satisfied by this answer and let him go. But it was fun making him feel uncomfortable, and I wanted more.
“…just waiting for the next round of team auditions is not the best way to prepare for team auditions. So we built The Circuit.”
So The Circuit works like this: every Friday night at 10pm, three of the current six Circuit teams perform the Harold. Teams exist for three months – enough time to perform a good amount of shows before the next round of Circuit teams replace the current ones.
The Circuit features Harold teams made-up of both current Magnet students and veteran performers.
After three months, the teams are burned up in a secret sacred ritual and then new Circuit teams rise from the ashes like a comedy phoenix. This is also known as selecting teams through a lottery. Later when I followed Mark to his apartment, got naked, climbed his fire escape, and stood outside his window, I asked about this crazy lottery idea. He said performers apply, and then names are picked out of a hat. “It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s equally fair to everyone across the board.” Then he called the police and I ran. I totally got away.
Want to be on a Circuit team? Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 3 or higher (and is not currently on a Megawatt team or in Team Performance Workshop) can apply. Performers will be chosen randomly by lottery. Teams will rehearse weekly with a coach and have a three month run of shows on Friday nights at the Studio Theater.
To apply, just email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email will be thrown into a computer hat, and then names will be selected by a robot which looks like this:
The Magnet Theater is sending 4 teams out to the Chicago Improv Festival next week. A represenative from TimeOut Chicago attended our CIF showcase at the beginning of the month and had some nice things to say about The Cascade, Chet Watkins, FACE and Hello Laser.
Duo Rick Andrews and Jennifer Dunne have a compelling form on their hands… this duo played it smart and patient, and I’d watch them again. (The Cascade)
These long-form practitioners have a secret weapon: fearless women. The men aren’t half bad either... All in all, impressive. (Chet Watkins).
It’s awesome to hear instrumentation besides a piano, and the musicians rotate frequently (including new ones in Chicago). Also, this group embraced the entirety of the stage in a big way and offered solid callbacks. (FACE)
This quartet of goofs is a C.I.F. visiting favorite and, having now witnessed them on home turf, it’s easy to see why… If the C.I.F. were a competition, we know where we’d place our bets. (Hello Laser)
Non-Hulk was a digital short written for Magnet Theater’s monthly comedic short screening, FLICK.
Written by Jon Bander and featuring Bander, Quinton Loder and Noel Dinneen (Hulk Hands). Directed by George Gross and sound recording by Mike Bell. All part of the Magnet Digital Media Engine!
Russ started improvising during high school in Ann Arbor Michigan. There, he and his friends formed a group that they believed to be very “high brow,” but looking back, they are now pretty sure they mostly just made up fart jokes and mocked their principle. Since then, Russ has come a long way, honing his craft at iO and Second City in Chicago before making The Magnet Theater his improv home base.
As a teacher of long-form, Russ tries to keep it positive. He emphasizes physical and emotional focus. His objective is to get everyone on board and be okay with playing together. Russ also likes to incorporate tons of metaphors into his teaching. For instance rather than just tell you to “follow the fear,” as most improv teachers might, Russ, a native of Indianapolis, might quote racecar driver Mario Andretti. “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”
Russ is currently teaching Level 2: Intro to Longform improv. Check out a listing of our available classes on the Magnet Theater website.
The Circuit: Round 3! Apply for Student Harold Teams!
The next round of The Circuit begins in May! The Circuit features Harold teams made-up of both current Magnet students and veteran performers. Anyone who has completed Magnet Level 3 or higher (and is not currently on a Megawatt team or in Team Performance Workshop) can apply. Performers will be chosen randomly by lottery. Teams will rehearse weekly with a coach and have a 3 month run of shows on Friday nights at the Studio Theater.
Apply now by emailing email@example.com.
Deadline to apply is April 15th.
Current and former Circuit performers speak up! Let the world know how awesome it is.
So maybe you can’t go to Chicago just to see your favorite
Magnet Teams. You can, however, get a preview of the teams accepted to CIF 2011 all weekend:
FACE Friday at 7pm
Chet Watkins Friday at 8pm
TJ, Megan, Desiree, Rick, Louis, and Rocco…
Hired by The Second City?
It’s no surprise that our auditioning instructor had such a good audition that he got hired by Second City to perform in their ensemble at sea which sends top improvisers on Norwegian Cruise Line ships to the Caribbean. Congrats to you, TJ Mannix!
And Congrats to Magnet’s outstanding Level 1 Instructor and super funny Junior Varsity member, Megan Gray. She was also hired by Second City after they conducted their first ever New York audition for their cruise ship ensembles.
Let’s not stop there, though – –
Congratulations to Louis Kornfeld, our wicked smart Level 2 Instructor, House Manager, and most bearded member of long-time house team, The Boss. You deserve all the success in the world, Louis!
And Desiree Nash, painfully funny member of Ransom Family and a musical improv heroine! Congratulations, Desiree. Send us photos, please.
And Rocco Privetera, who stars in this hilarious video, produced by the Magnet Media Engine (with TJ Mannix, Adam Taylor, and Shawn Amaro). Rocco will be taking his magical fingers to the ocean as a Musical Director for a a Second City cruise ship ensemble. Yes. The fingers are magical.
Let’s not forget Magnet’s Rick Andrews who was also offered a spot on the big boat. Rick is a tall grad school drop-out and all around wonderful person who is currently teaching at Magnet. He is also the co-creator and co-star of The Cascade with Jennifer Dunne Monday nights at Magnet.
While getting tan, they’ll be performing classic Second City scenes, improv sets and teaching workshops. Basically it’s like the nerd version of Dirty Dancing without the sexual awakening. Have fun. Represent America and Magnet well, please. When you get back to the island of Manhattan, we’ll be here waiting.
Do you edit videos? Do you love being “on set?” Want to be a part of the Magnet Video Production team? If so, here is your chance. The Magnet Digital Media Engine is accepting enthusiastic video-loving candidates for shooting, directing, editing, and even PA’ing video sketches. Just send an email with your film production experience and the position(s) you are seeking to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, February 4th.
Yes, just do it!