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Posts Tagged ‘Character’

Sunday May 5, 2013, 12:27pm - by WillyAppelman

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“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.

MEGAN: Thunderdome.

The Butterfly Effect plays every Thursday in May at 9pm.

Thursday April 11, 2013, 9:15am - by WillyAppelman

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“The Sleep Over” is the newest installment of The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form. This month Kevin Cragg is directing “The Sleep Over.” We conducted an interview with director Kevin Cragg via email about the show.

1. What is The Sleep Over?
The Sleep Over is largely a mono-character improv form that was developed in the early 2000s by then Harold Team Mother. Over the duration of the current Sleep Over incarnation, Kevin Cobbs, Megan Gray, Will Quinn, Amie Roe, Jamaal Sedayao, Emily Shapiro, Caitlin Steitzer, and Kristy Wesolowski introduce us to eight characters and take us on a journey through the world they inhabit.

2. Why are you directing it?
My interest in the Sleep Over stems from the long history I have had with the form. I was lucky enough to be present to watch Mother workshop the form at a tiny storefront theater and it has been one of my favorite forms ever since. By directing it, I have a reason to gather eight of my favorite improvisers and let them loose on one of my favorite forms.

3. What is your favorite type of improv?
Since I have performed improv for quite some time and I have watched improv even longer, I would have to say the type of improv that is my favorite is that which surprises me. For four Thursdays in April, I will be watching my favorite improv.

4. What is the future of improv?
Another realm for product placement.

The Sleep Over performs every Thursday in April at 10pm at The Magnet Theater. The cast features Kevin Cobbs, Megan Gray, Will Quinn, Amie Roe, Jamaal Sedayao, Emily Shapiro, Caitlin Steitzer, and Kristy Wesolowski.

Thursday May 17, 2012, 12:33pm - by catherinewing

The second show of the Magnet Theater’s sketch company-in-residence, “America!” will introduce you to characters that will take you on a journey through our national psyche, and explore the people and things that define and inform our American-ness.  Like baseball.  And Ira Glass.  And immigrants.

So unfurl your flags and crack open a cold Sixpoint beer: opening night of “Company 29: America!” is coming your way this Friday, May 18th, at 7pm at the Magnet Theater.

Dedicated to producing new and original sketch comedy shows on a continual basis, Company 29 consists of the Magnet’s strongest writers, performers and directors. The goal of Company 29 is to create character-driven, thematically cohesive sketch shows with a unique voice.

Sponsored by: Sixpoint Brewery

These are the writers and performers of America!:

Written By: Paul Barker (Horses, Dumbkowsky), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Tim Eberle (Brick, Alchemy), Amanda Hirsch (Think Improv), Beth Newell (Kiss*Punch*Poem, Dumbkowsky), and Jamaal Sedayao (Brick, Turboner Bigote).

Featuring: Mike Barry (Lead McEnroe), Kevin Cobbs (Listen, Kid!), Ruby Marez (Aquarius), Lauren Olson (Chet Watkins), Christian Paluck (Chet Watkins), Justin Peters (Chet Watkins), Rachel Rauch (Leviathan), Jamaal Sedayao (Brick), Jason Scott Quinn (Silver Fox), and Ross Taylor (Aquarius, The Wrath).

Directed By: Nick Benaquista (Lead McEnroe)

Showtimes:
Fri May 18th, 2012, 7:00pm
Sat May 19th, 2012, 9:00pm
Sun May 20th, 2012, 8:00pm

The Magnet Blog interviewed Company 29 Head Writer, Tim Eberle, to get the inside scoop on Company 29 and how the group prepares for their shows.

Head Writer Tim Eberle with the cast of Company 29

Magnet Blog:  How is Company 29 structured differently from how sketch groups are usually structured?

Tim Eberle:  Company 29 is really structured more like a resident theater company than a sketch group; we’re made up of a writing team, performance, troupe, lighting/sound designer, and directing team. The idea behind the group has always been to bring all of these different aspects together to create full, unique, and cohesive sketch shows, based around a single idea or theme. The scripts are generally character-based and written for specific performers, who work with our director and tech team throughout the rehearsal process to bring the scenes to life in the most engaging way possible. It leads to a “the whole is greater than the total sum of its parts” situation, and really showcases the different talents floating around the Magnet.

MB:  Do the actors write, or the writers act?  Are directors part of the group, or do they rotate/change for each show?

TE:  We definitely have a couple of writer/performers in the group, especially Jamaal Sedayao and Kevin Cobbs. They’re great because they know how to write so well for themselves as well as the other actors in the group. And Jamaal can pull from his Brazilian (I think?) background to give the show some diversity. We have one director (Nick Benaquista) who directs all the Company 29 shows. It’s a big asset having Nick direct multiple shows because he’s developed a great sense for the different writing and performance styles we have, and he can use that when he’s working to build beats and work on characters in rehearsals.

MB:  What is the writing process?

TE:  When we first start working on a new show, the writers will get together to pitch ideas for a theme or structure to the show (like setting the whole show in the world of a public school, as we did with PS2012). Once we’ve settled on the theme, we’ll starting pitching sketch ideas or looking at sketches that people have that could potentially work for the show, and discuss which actors would be the best to play which parts. Over the next few we’ll work as a group pitching jokes, editing the sketches, and tweaking the material to make it work for the actors. So it’s collaborative in that sense, but the onus is really on the individual writers to own their material. We don’t write too many sketches together as a group, but we all work together to make sure the sketches work for the show we want to put on. Once we have enough material, we’ll choose the sketches we want to use in the show, put together the running order, and all that good stuff.

MB:  What’s the timeline of putting a show together, from conception to show time?

TE:  Usually about 2 months. We like to have about three weeks to write and edit and then a little over a month for rehearsals, since scheduling rehearsals for a cast this big and this busy is obviously difficult, and we want to have enough rehearsals for each sketch.

MB:  Was there anything you learned In the process of putting together the first Company 29 show, that you decided to do differently for this upcoming show?

TE:  We’re not going to do the character bits that we did with PS2012 this time around.  They were funny as character pieces in the last show, but they disrupted the flow of the whole piece.  This time, we’re following a more standard sketch revue structure.

MB:  Will there be rolling auditions/submission invitations for folks who are interested in joining Company 29?

TE:  We’ve had the same cast for the last two shows, and they’re fantastic.  We don’t have any plans to hold big auditions in the near future, but we’re always looking to add people here and there. We brought Justin Peters on for this show because we needed someone to play a racist ex-minor-league baseball player, which seemed right in his wheelhouse. We’re bringing on a couple of new writers for the next show as well, and are always looking for more sketch-writers who like the style of sketch that we do.

MB:  Why “America!”?

TE:  The idea really came from the fact that for a little while we thought about doing a political theme for the next show. The more we batted the idea around, the more sketch ideas came up that centered on general Americana, beyond just politics. It seemed like a really fun and relatable theme to play with, so that’s where we went. We ended up with sketches about Ellis Island, Johnny Appleseed, Ira Glass, Kenyan marathon runners, and, interestingly enough, nothing about politics. Which is probably for the best. I don’t think anyone really likes political sketch comedy. Not enough silly voices.

Thanks, Tim!

The audience enjoying the show and the Sixpoint brews.

Company 29 is proud to be sponsored by Sixpoint Craft Ales. Based in Brooklyn, Sixpoint is an innovative craft brewery that makes bold and delicious beers. It is also committed to supporting local creative endeavors, and Company 29 is thrilled to have them as a sponsor. For all you craft beer lovers, Sixpoint is having beer specials at the Magnet for opening night on Friday. Drink up and enjoy the show!

Photos: M.Woody Fu

Saturday March 3, 2012, 5:12pm - by catherinewing

The opening night of Company 29’s show, PS 2012, played to a sold-out crowd last night. Under the directon of Nick Benaquista, the show ran smoothly, with top-notch performances by some of the best performers at the Magnet, and effortless transitions between sketches. This was a great start for Company 29, the Magnet Theater’s very first sketch company-in-residence. more

Wednesday February 29, 2012, 5:03pm - by catherinewing

This Friday, 3/2 at 8:30pm marks a historic occasion at the Magnet Theater. It is the opening night of “PS 2012,” the inaugural show of the Magnet Theater’s very first sketch company-in-residence, Company 29. Set in and around a public school, PS 2012 will introduce you to characters from the school bus to the schoolyard and the academic beyond.

Dedicated to producing new and original sketch comedy shows on a continual basis, Company 29 consists of the Magnet’s strongest writers, performers and directors. The goal of Company 29 is to create character-driven, thematically cohesive sketch shows with a uniquely Magnet voice. more