Posts Tagged ‘alexis lambright’
Alexis Lambright is a writer, storyteller, and cast member of Magnet ensembles The Wrath and The Cast. Alexis also hosts The Griot Show, in which she brings together a range of black performers and storytellers together around a specific theme! In anticipation of this Friday’s edition of The Griot Show, we spoke with Alexis about storytelling, “edutaining,” and pooped pants.
What makes a compelling story?
For me, the thing that makes a story compelling are the details. This is in no way profound, but I’m drawn to stories with a lot of details. Someone could be telling me about the time they pooped their pants in public, and I wanna know which city they were in, the surroundings, the time of day, the temperature, what they wore, what they ate earlier that day, and of course why they pooped their pants in the first place. All of those details allow me to see it happening (that’s not to say that I am obsessed with envisioning someone pooping their pants, I was just using that as an example). Anyway, I’ve heard some very detailed stories that made me feel like I was actually there.
How does your background as an improviser inform your style as a storyteller?
I think my improv background has allowed me to be able to recall stories pretty quickly. I’ve done shows were I had to come up with a story from an audience suggestion, which means going through my mental Rolodex of related stories. In the case of The Griot Show, I might have a story prepared, but maybe something from one of the performer’s stories sparks an idea that leads to a better story!
Your show features a variety of performers from different experiences and performance styles. Aside from improvisers and comedians, what other people have performed at the Griot Show?
Over the past three years, while I started out trying to keep the format to a traditional storytelling show, I’ve found that the show is really great when the performers tell a story through other mediums. I’ve had a video artist on who showed a piece that he directed, in which Harriet Tubman and other slaves were doing interpretive dance to Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U”. There have been poets who have shared stories through their work, a few performers have incorporated music into their pieces, and I’ve even projected illustrations from a book I wrote at the tender age of six about slavery. Yes, 6 year-old me wrote a book about slavery. One of my absolute favorite guests on the show was Mr. Dabney Montgomery, who served the U.S. Army Air Corps as one of the Tuskegee Airmen. When I tell you it was an honor, privilege, and just an absolute DREAM COME TRUE having him bless my little ol’ show, I am dead serious! He was phenomenal!
What inspired you to produce this show?
I was approached by Beth Newell (former Magnet Sketch Program head) about creating a show that would bring some diversity to the Magnet stage. I brainstormed some ideas and finally decided on a storytelling show for Black History Month. The first two times went so well, that people came up to me and said “have you ever thought about having the show more than just once a year?” The next show was on Juneteenth for its historical significance to African Americans, and eventually I did the show every other month. I’d like to make it a monthly show, but I need help either producing or hosting it.
You’ve been hosting the Griot Show for a while now. How has the show changed over time since you first started hosting it?
As I mentioned before, it’s been a little over three years since the show debuted. In the beginning, it didn’t have a specific theme- I just wanted to get more black people performing at the Magnet. Now, I will try to come up with a theme for the show, like “Juneteenth Edition”, “Pride Month+Loving Day Edition”, etc. Also, because I love it when a show is “edutaining” (educational and entertaining), I try to do black history or theme-related trivia questions with the audience. There are prizes, too!
Check out The Griot Show this Friday, August 18th at 7pm!
Magnet All-Star performer, ALEXIS LAMBRIGHT, chats with us about The Wrath’s 4-year anniversary, representation in improv, and her various hilarious scripted shows. You can see Alexis all around the Magnet performing with The Wrath on Megawatt, with The Cast on Saturday nights, as host of The Griot Show, as a member of The Stank, and with Rebecca Robles as the soul-singing duo Cocoa Dreamz. This week, she sits down with host Louis Kornfeld to talk about all manner of things related to comedy and we’re excited to have her as a guest!
With The Wrath’s 4-year anniversary having just passed, Louis inquires as to what makes The Wrath work so well – why is this team so amazing? Alexis talks about the team’s dynamics and the importance of having her ideas justified and embraced right away. Louis says that he often references Alexis as an example of someone who plays with their own style yet is never hindered by it. Pretty cool, right?
Stemming from their discussion on The Wrath, Louis and Alexis talk about the pressure she feels to represent not only woman, but also people of color, when she’s performing. This leads into a discussion on diversity in improv, Rita Chin’s recent essay, and some of the things Alexis came to expect as she began improv classes. She stresses the importance of having all voices be heard (and accepted) and answers the question, “Do you work on your own stuff or do you keep trying to fit in [to the theater system]?”
Alexis began taking class at Magnet in late 2008 and she tells us about what brought her to improv in the first place. Her first formal improv training was a weekend-long Second City workshop which she took after being inspired by watching SNL. Louis talks about new students’ ability to convert fear into power and asks Alexis how The Wrath has managed to keep the romance alive after 4 years. Hear about how they’ve spiced it up recently and what Alexis has to say about their foray into musical improv!
Going further back, Louis talks to Alexis about her family, moving around as a child, and where she feels most at home. He also asks about her friendship and artistic relationship with Rebecca Robles. As Alexis puts it – they’re like the Odd Couple. Although they maybe have different energies, they have very similar work styles. She talks about their act Cocoa Dreamz, which is a Motown-era singing duo, and how that show allows her to channel her mother and aunts. On an unrelated note, Louis talks about finding inspiration in sad people and taking what you don’t like about someone and choosing to make it what you love about them.
Finally, they wrap up the episode discussing Alexis’ one-woman-show, The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity, which has enjoyed runs at Magnet, NY Fringe, and Hollywood Fringe. They talk about the origins of the show and the writing of it, as well as the attention it received as a result of an NY Post article, which wasn’t without its compromises. Louis opines that coping with scary things allows you to move forward and become who you are. We think he’s probably right.
Enjoy this episode. It’s great listening.
- alexis lambright
- Cocoa Dreamz
- Emily Shapiro
- fringe festival
- Griot Show
- hollywood fringe
- improv classes
- Louis Kornfeld
- magnet theater
- magnet theater podcast
- magnet training center
- musical improv
- new york
- new york city
- ny fringe
- NY Post
- one-woman show
- Rebecca Robles
- Rita Chin
- Second City
- The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity
- The Stank
- The Wrath
Magnet performer, Alexis Lambright (The Wrath) is heading to The Hollywood Fringe Festival this week to perform her one woman show, “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity”. In the show, Alexis is on a mission to find a cure for individuals suffering from Chronic Virginity… starting with herself. Through stories, songs, and videos, this live telethon will present awkward moments from her life, in hopes of achieving her goal. If you’re planning on checking out Alexis’ shows, look no further than RIGHT HERE! Congrats Alexis!
It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! Giddy all day and full of glee like a kid who has spotted an array of presents under the tree left by Santa – this was the excitement I felt last Saturday for the first ever Ladies’ Night at The Magnet Theater! An evening dedicated to showcasing the improv and sketch comedy talents of women from around the city.
The energy from the performers and audience was palpable, the seats were sold out, and as one of the many performers who watched shows from the side, I was craning my neck to see everything I possibly could onstage.
Those who couldn’t get a seat or view from the side, had their own jolly good time in the lobby drinking homemade wine spritzer and vegan cupcakes – baked by Megan Gray and sold to raise money for Gilda’s Club, a cancer support community created after Gilda Radner, who is many women’s comedic hero.
That night I watched female improvisers take the stage who normally don’t have an opportunity to perform together. Out of these unlikely groupings, some of my favorite improv scenes happened. Seriously, if a version of AFI’s Top 100 Improv Scenes existed, several of them would have to be knocked off the list to make room for the performances from last Saturday night! These ladies urged me to stand up, cheer, and clap thunderously alongside Maggie Morris and others. (Her clap rivals Binu Paulose’s laughter on the decibel scale.) There was a perfect balance to the evening with some new lady improv groups, some lady groups that have been around the block, mix em ups with female improvisers who have never played together, sketch, a tease of burlesque and a lady mixer at the end allowing women who hadn’t played at all that evening to play with people from the prior shows.
One of the greatest feelings in the world is laughter. Even better is when it’s your friends making you laugh. Even better than that is when your onstage performing with friends and fellow improvisers and laughing so hard you forget that you’re onstage and supposed to be performing!
The best thing about Ladies’ Night was not only seeing all the female talent out there, but also that it was filled with bold, hilarious, kickass improv…all of which happened to be from females. It wasn’t just funny female comedy; it was a night of badass improv highlighted by the fact that it surged from a spring of female talent!
I’m just grateful I was one of the many who was asked to grace the stage that night, and honored to share the lineup with the likes of Megan Gray, Kelly Buttermore, Christina Gauses, and Shannon O’ Neil (four women I have adored and watched for years as they continuously blow my mind with their no holds barred improv). I, and all the other women that evening, were truly delighted to play with such funny people…all who happened to be women. Yes, Chrismukahkwanza came early this year and hopefully it comes again more frequently in 2012! A sentiment felt by not just the ladies, but also by the fellas. Hubba, hubba.
a published book of essays featuring a story of mine that I wrote is available for purchase here! http://www.amazon.com/What-Brought-Back-Birthright-Taglit-Birthright/dp/1592642896/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1