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Magnet Theater Blog: News and Ideas about Comedy, Improv Shows & Classes in NYC

Magnet Theater Blog

Monday January 2, 2017, 6:22pm - by Magnet Theater

large_thecircuit

The Circuit is a chance for Magnet students who have completed Level 3 or higher to play on Harold teams of their very own for a limited run of shows.

Link to form!

To apply for the non-musical teams for this Winter 201 run of The Circuit, please fill out the form and you will be entered into the lottery . The deadline to apply will be noon, January 10, 2017. Teams will be announced January 12. First rehearsals will be the weekend of the 14th.

This round will also feature a musical team! If you have completed Musical Level 3 and would like to put your name in the hat, please fill out this form: Link to Musical form!

Circuit shows will begin Friday, January 20 and run for 10 weeks, through March 24. Shows will be 10PM in the Magnet Studio Theater at the Training Center.

If you have any questions, please email Circuit@MagnetTheater.com.

***Please read the following:***
– To apply, you must have completed up to Level 3 at the Magnet.
– Do not call or email registrar beforehand regarding application status.
– Circuit performers may miss no more than 3 shows or practices.
– Performers are expected to rehearse with their assigned team and coach on a weekly basis at assigned times.
– Performers are responsible for the cost of coach and space rentals.

Wednesday December 21, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

eleanor-lewis-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Friendship Club founder and genius-level baby, ELEANOR LEWIS, joins host Louis Kornfeld to discuss the best improv exercises, how modern comedies fall short, and why mixers are so wonderful. There’s oodles of improv talk in this one and, by golly, that’s probably why you’re here. Plus, they do some two-person monologue hotspot and Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of [Redacted] Water.

This episode begins with a rarely heard cold open as Eleanor and Louis discuss hot spot, one of the very first warm-ups most improvisors encounter. They debate whether or not it’s a good exercise for a class, or even for a team, to use. They talk about ego in improv, both its destructive and creative tendencies, and Louis offers the theory that the ego of the character and the comedy of the scene are intertwined. He then asks which improv exercises Eleanor really loves. They get into talking movies, where modern comedies fail us, and the greatest comedic strengths of film versus improv. Plus, they ask the question on everyone’s mind: Is Branson Reese the ideal improvisor?

They also partake in a rousing rendition of Getting To Know Each Other in which many great topics pop up. Louis shares his ULTIMATE BELIEF and Eleanor discloses her FAVORITE IMPROV THING! I mean, these are huge. The episode wraps up as Eleanor and Louis discuss shock-value comedy and hosting the Thursday Magnet Mixers, which you should all attend! Finally, Eleanor performs A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Bottle Of Nestle Pure Water even though Nestle is a horrible company and we don’t endorse them. Superman sucks too!

eleanor-lewis-pickles

Monday December 19, 2016, 1:52pm - by Magnet Theater

SketchTeamSubmissions_1920-1080_Generic_blog

The Magnet Theater is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2017 Spring/Summer Season of MAGNET SKETCH TEAMS, which will run from March 6th – July 24th, 2017! UPDATE: Applications are due by Monday, January 30th, at 5pm!

Please read the following application instructions and sketch team participant expectations very carefully. Got questions? Come to the 2017 Spring/Summer Sketch Team info session Tuesday, January 10th, at 6pm at the TC.

GENERAL SKETCH SHOW EXPECTATIONS

  • Each team will create one 20-25 minute sketch show every three to four weeks.

  • All sketch team shows will be on Monday nights at 7:30pm! Two teams will perform in each show.

  • All sketch team shows must contain new, original material written specifically for Magnet Sketch Night that has never been previously performed.

  • Each show will contain the best material created for the team as selected by the director – there is no guarantee that every writer will get a sketch in each show or that every actor will be featured in each show. Funny wins. Them’s the breaks.

  • All sketches will be performed by the team’s ensemble cast of sketch actors. If a particular sketch requires it, the team may use outside casting (writers, other actors) at the director’s discretion.

GENERAL SKETCH TEAM EXPECTATIONS

  • Sketch team members are expected to attend all required meetings and shows and arrive fully prepared. Sketch is time intensive – make sure you can commit 100% and make sketch a priority before applying.

  • Sketch team members must be available 1:30-4:30pm the Sunday before their show for a mandatory tech rehearsal at the theater.

  • Sketch team members may not schedule conflicting appointments (work, rehearsals, shows, etc) during scheduled techs, shows, rehearsals, or meetings.

  • Sketch teams must rehearse with a Magnet approved director. Each individual sketch team member is responsible for paying their director a flat rate of $12/week; team due collection is left to the discretion of the director and team (as it would be for an improv team or practice group).

  • Sketch team members are expected to promote their shows at the theater.

For the 2017 Spring/Summer Sketch Season, you must apply as a writer, performer, or a writer/performer. Expectations, prerequisites, and application instructions for each role are below!

WRITER EXPECTATIONS

  • Writers must attend one 3 hour writing meeting per week, all performance rehearsals of their sketches, and all tech rehearsals.

  • Writers must constantly generate new material and are required to bring in a minimum of one new sketch per week, even during show week.

  • Writers are expected to be respectful and gracious collaborators in writing room. Writers should give and receive feedback to and from their teammates in an open and constructive manner.

  • Writers will be required to rewrite material and meet deadlines as requested by their director.

WRITER  PREREQUISITES

  • Completion of (or current enrollment in) Magnet Sketch Writing Level 2 or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team (as any role).

  • Equivalent sketch writing experience somewhere else with a contactable reference (email address).

WRITER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line, “2017 SPRING/SUMMER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// WRITER // <YOUR NAME>”.

  • A cover letter detailing relevant sketch experience inside and outside the Magnet community.
  • If your comedy experience is mostly outside of the Magnet Theater, you must provide the email address for a reference.
  • A single PDF of a sketch writing sample. Your sample should contain at least two sketches and may not exceed 10 pages.

PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

  • Performers must be available for a regularly scheduled 2-3 hour performance rehearsal the week leading up to the show (ex: Sketch Team Fart Police has a performance rehearsal every Tuesday before a show, 7-10pm)

  • Performers must be available for techs, table reads, and any additional rehearsals as required by the director.

  • Performers must learn all show material in a timely manner.

  • Performers may collaborate with writers outside of rehearsals to help create characters and sketches, but performers should not be writing material on their own for shows.

  • Performers must perform sketches as they are written – ad libbing is good in a pinch, but be prepared and don’t put yourself in positions where you must resort to improvisation. Be polished and professional in all shows.

PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

  • Completion of or current enrollment in Level 6 team performance workshop, participation in a past or current Megawatt team, or previous participation in a Magnet Sketch Team (as any role).

  • If your comedy experience is mostly outside of the Magnet Theater, you must provide the email address for a reference.

PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS:

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

“2017 SPRING/SUMMER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// PERFORMER // <YOUR NAME>”

  • A cover letter detailing relevant performance experience inside and outside the Magnet community.

  • A headshot

  • A PDF of your acting resume

  • A SINGLE link to a 3-5 minute sample of your work as a performer. This can be a reel, a recording of a stage sketch, a video sketch, a monologue directed at a webcam, anything you feel showcases you as a comedic performer. Youtube or Vimeo preferred. The link can be public, private, or unlisted – just be sure to send passwords if necessary and you may only send one link and the link itself may be no longer than 5 minutes.

You will be informed by Monday, January 30th, if you have been selected to audition in person.

In-person auditions will be held in the evening on Friday, February 3rd and in the afternoon on Saturday, February 4th at the Magnet Training Center. Unfortunately, if you are not available for the above callback dates, you cannot be considered as a performer for the 2017 Spring/Summer Sketch Season.

For the in-person audition, you will perform two contrasting sketches that will be assigned to you and another applicant a couple days prior to the audition. You must be completely off-book and you may rehearse before hand with your scene partner, at your discretion. You will also be asked to cold read sketches in the room.

WRITER/ PERFORMER EXPECTATIONS

  • Writer/performers must meet all writer expectations AND performer expectations.

  • Writer/performers are expected to write for other performers as well as for themselves. There is no guarantee that a writer/performer will perform in all of their own work.

WRITER/PERFORMER PREREQUISITES

  • Writer/performers must meet all writer AND performer prerequisites or previous participation on a Magnet Sketch team (as any role).

WRITER/PERFORMER APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS

Send the following materials to sketchdirector@magnettheater.com with the subject line,

“2017 SPRING/SUMMER MAGNET SKETCH TEAM APPLICATION// WRITER/PERFORMER // <YOUR NAME>”

  • All materials detailed in writer application instructions.

  • All materials detailed in performer application instructions.

  • Also, please indicate if you are willing to be considered as a writer or actor ONLY if you are not selected for a writer/performer position. Be completely honest – your preferences will not be held against you!

You will be informed by Monday, January 30th, if you have been selected to audition in person. See performer application instructions above for more info about the audition.

Failure to follow application instructions will keep you from being considered for sketch team. Double check your application!

All applications must be received by 5pm on Monday, January 30th!  

Wednesday December 14, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

lane-kwederis-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

She’s all over the stage and screen and now LANE KWEDERIS joins us to discuss musical theater, audition wisdom, and her favorite moments from working in TV! From the Boston Conservatory to your cable box, Lane has accumulated a wealth of experience, which she shares on this episode as she and Louis discuss her career and life as an actor and comedian. Like Louis, you have perhaps never met Lane before, but you’ll love her after an hour! Catch Lane every Tuesday on Musical Megawatt with Public Pool and on Mondays with sketch team The Executives!!

This episode begins with Louis admitting that he and Lane just met for the first time! It seems as though they’ve been ships passing in the improv night for years now. In order to get fully acquainted, Louis asks how Lane ended up as a performer. She talks about studying musical theater at Boston Conservatory and working in theater soon thereafter. So, how’s she get into improv? Spoiler: It involves a casting director’s suggestion and a new passion. Lane and Louis discuss the rigid musical theater machine versus the more welcoming world of comedy. Despite her initial interest in live theater, Lane is mostly working in film and TV these days. Louis asks a number of nerdy, technical acting and audition questions and Lane answers, giving particular attention to comedic choices. This is helpful information for those interested in that kind of work!

Jumping back, Louis asks Lane if she always knew that performance was her life’s calling, and while she says that indeed, it was, she also mentions how she once wanted to be a veterinarian. As such, she and Louis discuss cute animals (see cat above), Lane’s playful nature, and the archetypes of children. Lane also talks about the fun of performing in Urinetown as a senior in college and how she really loved the comedic aspects of it.

To bring us fully up to speed with Lane’s acting career, Louis asks her to share a couple quick hits from her television appearances. She tells of what it was like to film on Comedy Central’s “Broad City” and of a parlor trick gone wrong while shooting Netflix’s “The Characters” with Tim Robinson. Finally, Louis asks Lane about the comedy that she writes and creates herself – what makes her laugh? – and they mull over some best-case Disney princess scenarios.

Plus! We bring you new editions of both Getting To Know Each Other and A Very Serious Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles!

lane-and-louis-pickles

Wednesday December 7, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

sam-rogal-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Boy made of metal and Friday Night favorite, SAM ROGAL, stops in to discuss performing arts camp, team chemistry, and his lifelong comedy partner, Pat May. Sam was hooked on comedy at a young age and made it a goal of his to get to NYC where (surprise!) he finally made it and has since performed on Megawatt, the Friday Night Sh*w, with Story Pirates, and countless other stages and shows in this great city. He shares all kinds of wonderful secrets in this episode and you’re just going to eat it up!

We begin this episode with Sam talking about his years spent attending Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp and how it changed his life. He talks about the training he received there and makes sure to drop a bunch of names. Sam recalls trying to impress counselor Becky Drysdale (Baskets, Key & Peele) as a CIT and how excellent she was to watch and work with. Louis and Sam talk about teenagers improvising, both from the perspective of being a teenager and what it’s like as an adult looking back. They also discuss Pat May’s certain something. It’s impossible to describe, but they try. Sam tells us about getting hooked on comedy as a teenager and how the idea of moving to NYC stuck with him into adulthood.

Talking improv, Sam relates that he often smiles or laughs in shows (and gets noted on it) because he’s having such a great time. He thinks there’s room for really enjoying yourself, even while working on commitment. Of course, we gotta talk about Metal Boy – Sam’s #1 Megawatt team. He describes what it’s like to find your team after being cut from others and he just has to mention his best boy Pat May again. He posits that an improv team is like a basketball team and preaches the virtues of simplifying scenes before making them insane. He and Louis also discuss how to keep a team consistent as it also evolves. Part of what helps make that evolution possible is talking openly and honestly with your team, which is also good advice for romantic partners. Speaking of, Louis asks Sam to talk about Elena Skopetos, his girlfriend, and well, you’ve just gotta listen. It’s adorable. Finally, Sam and Louis discuss the improv community’s evolving approach on how it deals with sensitive topics.

Tuesday December 6, 2016, 10:26am - by Magnet Theater

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ANNOUNCING: The Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival

Calling all playwrights and actors and anyone who has ever wanted to try playwriting and acting! Magnet Theater is proud to announce that in 2017, it will host its first 10-Minute Play Festival. The 10-Minute play is a distinctly American artform all about heart and words and barebones theater — concepts that have always had a home at the Magnet Theater.

Starting in January 2017, we will be calling for submissions of original, 10-minute comedic plays — so get cracking! Are you a sketch writer looking for a new challenge? Do you have a great story to tell? Is “writing more” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Now is your chance. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to submit!

A panel of Magnet community members will read the submissions and select a total of five plays, so get excited, because auditions for these plays will then be held at the end of February. Are you an improviser who wants to try some honest-to-goodness theater? Are you an actor looking for a new show? Is “doing one thing that scares you” one of your New Year’s resolutions? Now is your chance! (Well, the end of February will be your chance.) These auditions are open to anyone and everyone!

All of this will culminate in the debut performance of our five original shows at Magnet Theater’s Very Own 10-Minute Play Festival, Sunday March 19th and 26th, at 7:30pm! We are so excited to stretch our muscles a little bit, try something new, and showcase all the amazing talent the Magnet Theater has to offer!

FAQs
 
What is a 10-Minute Play?
A 10-minute play is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a One Act that is only 10 minutes long.
What makes a good 10-Minute play?
First of all, they have to be 10-minutes, so don’t submit anything over 11 pages. Be careful of too much exposition. A 10-minute play has to pack a lot into a short time. If we want to see a whole journey in under 10 minutes, clarity and economy are key. Make every line do work for you. To that end, keep tech fairly simply, and you usually wouldn’t see more than 4 characters (only 2 or 3 is even more common). Also, have fun! (There are tons of resources online if you’d like to do some research!)
What are the important dates?
Submissions for original plays will be open January – February 19th (though start writing now!) Auditions will be February 26 – 28. Show days will be March 19th and 26th at 7:30pm.
Can you submit if you’re not a part of the Magnet community?
You bet! Though slight preference will be given to members of the Magnet community.
Any further questions? Just email Magnet10minuteplayfestival@gmail.com. Diversity applicants strongly encouraged to apply!
Wednesday November 30, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

matt-alspaugh-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

Writer, actor, and director, MATT ALSPAUGH, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about teaching, how he got into the performing arts, and some tasty bits of NYC history. How did this kid who grew up playing baseball in Connecticut fall in love with theater and eventually find himself chasing comedy in New York City? We’ll find out! Matt also provides advice for sketch writers, actors, and show-runners. Plus! We ask Matt to perform a never-before-heard segment called “A Very Kind Scene With A Jar of Pickles.” Huzzah!

We open the episode discussing Matt’s time working at the Drama Book Shop, a local institution for actors, playwrights, and fans of theater alike. His years there allowed Matt to meet many wonderful people, read many great plays, and to be surrounded by theater. It also allowed him to do some couch-crashing, which talks about fondly. While back home after college, Matt was a substitute teacher, and he and Louis find themselves discussing how theater fits into the overall education experience. On the topic of staged pieces, our gents talk about the interplay between the audience and the performer and how performers must allow the audience to fill in some details for themselves. In order to allow yourself to act, you must not worry about convincing the audience of the reality. From all of this, Louis asks Matt about how he got into improv and sketch. Having worn so many different hats within Magnet’s sketch community, Matt provides advice for sketch actors, writers, and show-runners. What’s his favorite role? Find out!

For this episode, we to skip over “Getting To Know Each Other” and instead, Matt tells us about some interesting tidbits of New York City history – after all, he’s a licensed NYC tour guide! Oh baby! And finally, A Very Kind Scene Opposite A Jar Of Pickles, because we all need some kindness after the election.

matt-alspaugh-pickles

Friday November 18, 2016, 3:05pm - by Magnet Theater

MVL

Magnet Video Lab is now accepting applications for season 5. We are a comedy video-making collective powered by the Magnet community. Be sure you thoroughly read the description below before submitting.

There will be an informational Q&A session on Tuesday, December 6 from 6:30-7:00pm in Room A at the Magnet Training Center.

All applications are due no later then 5 pm on December 16, 2016after which you will receive a confirmation that we received your submission. All applicants will be notified by December 28, 2016 and groups will start meeting the first or second week of January, 2017.

Selected applicants will be placed in one of three small groups with an experienced leader. The season will last around 3-4 months, and will culminate with a screening at the Magnet Theater.  The videos will also be featured on the Magnet Video Lab website and Youtube page, and will be promoted through Magnet Theater’s blog, Facebook page, etc. 

Leading up to the show, all members are expected to meet once a week to help each other in the writing room, in pre-production, production, and post-production. During the actual shoot dates, schedules may change. The Video Lab does not own equipment and is not responsible for producing your work, it is a forum of people sharing resources, hardware and experience. During production, you are allowed to work with cinematographers and sound people outside of the Lab if necessary. You are expected to be a pro-active individual that will be hands on with your own creation the whole way through. The Video Lab’s main goal is helping you achieve a high quality product ready for public consumption.

Qualified applicants for the Magnet Video Lab should have at least one of the following skills: video direction, script writing, sound design, video editing, special effects, cinematography, or production.

At least one of two things are required to submit:
1. Minimum of one viewable link to a video you were involved with and an indication of your roll.
2. A script no longer then five pages, in pdf format.

Again all applications are due by 5pm on December 16th.

Submit video links and/or scripts to magnetvideolab@gmail.com. You can access the application at this link: Magnet Video Lab ApplicationAny incomplete submissions will not be considered.

We look forward to reviewing your application!

Wednesday November 16, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

derrence-washington-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The sexiest baby on earth, DERRENCE WASHINGTON, swings by to talk with host Louis Kornfeld about spirituality, working with our egos, and making cultural adjustments while improvising. Derrence tells us about his upbringing in Houston, TX and when it was that he truly began to remove judgement from himself. He also talks a bit about acting and how improv can improve for those underrepresented in the art form. Catch Derrence each week with his Megawatt team Sexy Baby and on the Friday Night Sh*w!

Derrence and Louis begin the program talking about spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual person. Derrence says that forgiveness, love, and loving yourself are key. Louis asks Derrence about his Instagram account and the videos he posts to it which highlight both his inspirational thoughts and his superego. We hear a bit about his religious upbringing in Houston, TX and what began his turnaround as someone who felt spiritual and meditative. Derrence speaks more about removing judgement from yourself and how we have to navigate our own egos. He suggests looking for symbols outside of the ego that we can go to for help. Taking it in another direction, Louis wants to talk about acting! How do ego and a person’s sense of self play into acting? Louis also sets about describing a couple of improv epiphanies. Toward the end of their conversation, Derrence talks about making cultural adjustments when improvising and the experience of being black and going through improv classes. Louis asks him how improv can improve for those that are underrepresented and how can we make more people feel more comfortable? All the great talk leaves no time for a two person hotspot this episode, but you know we got that Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles.

 

Wednesday November 9, 2016, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

sisters-three-podcast Subscribe with iTunes

The creative team behind SISTERS THREE joins us to talk about their incredible show. Starring Magnet all-stars Elana Fishbein and Elena Skopetos, directed by the one and only Peter McNerney, and written by all three of them, Sisters Three is a fast-paced, hilarious play that is running at the Magnet this fall and early next year. It’s Louis’ favorite show he’s ever seen at the Magnet and it’s also a New York Times Critics Pick. Your next chances to see it are Friday November 11th and 18th but you get to hear all about the show right here first.

They get started with attempting to describe Sisters Three and Louis claims that it’s the perfect marriage of improv and theater. The creators dive into the process of building, writing, and staging the show through improvisation and workshopping pieces of it. They say it took at least six months of work to even have an idea of what the show would look like!  It’s an incredibly interesting and wonderful process. They discuss embracing subtlety and avoiding the temptation to spell it all out for the audience. They talk about characters left on the cutting room floor and some of the jokes that didn’t make it in. Louis floods the episode with compliments and they’re all warranted. He also asks, “What’s the next step?” They talk about promoting and producing the play and where else they might be able to take it. Also, they give a nice hat tip to Locke & Key, a graphic novel series which has inspired them all. PLUS – They ALL do a Serious Scene Opposite A Jar of Pickles. (And no, it wasn’t Evan’s idea!) Huzzah!