Posts Tagged ‘alan fessenden’
“The Butterfly Effect” is the newest installment of The Director’s Series, a 5-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month Megan Gray (Magnet Artistic Director, Junior Varsity) and Alan Fessenden (The Weave, Hello Laser) team up to bring you The Butterfly Effect. We sat down with them, via email, and asked them why they chose to direct this form.
MAGNET BLOG: What is The Butterfly Effect? Why are you directing it?
MEGAN: “The Butterfly Effect” is an improv long form that borrows from Close Quarters (which was developed in Chicago by Director Noah Gregoropoulos at Second City) and Tracers (which was developed by Kevin Mullaney at the UCB in NY). Based on the suggestion of a location and a time of day, the cast creates a series of scenes that are all happening at the same time. It’s almost like a combination of Monoscene Eventes.
This form requires a great attention to detail and a pretty sharp memory. I first saw it performed at a Del Close Marathon in 2004 and was blown away. The entire piece took place in a mansion with all these secret passageways. The cast remembered every piece of information and kept it really fun. Since then, it’s been a form I’ve been wanting to develop for a Director Series. I was talking to Alan Fessenden about it and he mentioned that he also wanted to work with Tracers. So we decided to direct it together.
ALAN: When I first saw Tracers at the UCB years ago, it was amazing and looked semi impossible, so I wanted to try and recreate that impossible feeling. Additionally, I was working with Matt Antonucci and a a few others in this style and I thought, we need to need to put this up, and I want to do it soon. We were having so much fun.
MAGNET BLOG: What is your favorite type of improv?
MEGAN: I like to watch improv that has a lightness to it. The performers are having fun, making interesting choices and connecting with each other. This may sound stupid, but I love to watch improv that looks improvised — not like the performers are just saying things they’ve been writing in their heads on the backline. I want to be surprised by improvisers making discoveries in the moment.
ALAN: I like it fast, I like it slow, I guess it depends on my mood. But really I like improv where people are really making discoveries in the moment, so the audience, the actor and maybe even the characters are all figuring something out together.
MAGNET BLOG: What is the future of improv?
ALAN: Structured plays with stock characters where all the dialogue is improvised, only now it will take place in a virtual reality and the actors will be able to digitally enhance the world as they create it. Probably.
The Butterfly Effect plays every Thursday in May at 9pm.
Take five of NYC’s sharpest improvisers, add a dash of Youtube, and stir well with the nimble fingers of a trusty Research Assistant in the tech booth: you get Search Engine, the newest innovative improv cocktail to hit the stage at the Magnet Theater. With improvisers hailing from 4Track, Mother, and Hello Laser, Search Engine promises to deliver knowledge that you didn’t even know you had to know.
Alan Fessenden, Jesse Falcon, Matt Evans, Alex Marino
If you’ve ever found yourself fixated on some absurdly detailed and equally useless bit of information – like the decomposition cycle of a whale, the Bristol Scale, the Catholic Church’s categories of demonic possession, or the political platforms of republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum – then you’ve already got something in common with the stellar cast of Search Engine. With shared roots and experience dating back as far as The Deconstruction and 4 Track, they’re guaranteed to provide you with one of the most invigorating, entertaining and downright fun hours of your weekend – specifically at 8:30pm on Friday, January 13.
Starting with a suggestion from the audience of anything you wish you knew more about – perhaps Lepufology – Search Engine will go to work sharing what they know. Meanwhile, the Search Engine Research Assistant in the booth – that’s right, they’ve got a Research Assistant! – will be searching the web for a relevant YouTube video. The discussion and the video will inspire a series of scenes, occasionally punctuated by pertinent wikipedia entries, related trivia, more videos, or other information discovered by the Research Assistant throughout.
Search Engine has assured me that each member of the cast is either chock full of trivial but true information about the world, or naturally able to be confidently and completely wrong in their assumptions. Chances are good that you’ll leave knowing at least as much as you did when you arrived, with laugh-induced soreness in your abdominal region.
Search Engine debuts at The Magnet Theater on Friday, January 13 at 8:30pm. Reservations are highly recommended.
Catch the debut of the Magnet Theater Touring Company tonight in “Playhouse” at 8pm—a great start to Thursday Night Out!
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)