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

Posts Tagged ‘community’

Wednesday November 18, 2015, 7:00am - by Magnet Theater

Armando Diaz Podcast 66 Subscribe with iTunes

Magnet Theater co-founder and all around improv know-it-all, ARMANDO DIAZ, sits down with us to talk about film, improvisation, and what he thinks of the “guru” label. It’s not everyday we get to hear so intimately from one of the greats of improvisation, but Armando stopped by to chat with host Louis Kornfeld and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Who knows – maybe this will be one of many? What we do know for sure is that this episode is not one to be missed.

Our conversation with Armando Diaz begins with the moment he gave up on the film industry. Both he and Louis had forays into the film industry and neither of them particularly liked it. However, it was this rejection of film that steered Armando toward improv. These two encyclopedias of improv and film discuss how improv keeps people more honest than film, how it strips away pretentious defense of art, and how Louis learned more about scene structure and motivation through improvising than attending film school. You need the laboratory of improvisation to learn and grow, says Armando.

Louis notes that, when teaching, Armando talks a lot about culture and art, so he asks Armando where he finds inspiration these days. In giving his answer, Armando opines on the need for art and culture to become local again. They talk about the dual importance of experiencing something together with a group of people, as well as the value of truly having time alone with your own thoughts – time devoid of entertainment and third party interference. In this part of the interview, we find out how many children Armando has! You’ll be surprised.

Tying in Armando’s notion of communal art with David Shepard’s goal of The Compass to be a popular theater, Louis asks how those ideas can be transposed into the improv of today. Armando tries to recall the first improv he saw that set the bar or made a big impression on him. For him, it’s always been about exploring the unknown. If for a period of time you can transcend yourself, those are the best moments. Where does such deep water lie for improv these days? Louis and Armando talk about challenging audiences in a helpful way and how we need imperfections and flaws.

If you came for the good stuff, look no further than Louis asking Armando about the status of his name. He talks about what it means to him to be “Armando.” People will think whatever they want, so he keeps himself grounded in real interactions with other people. He also tells use why he doesn’t love the idea of gurus and relates how the burden of experience can get in the way of trying to learn something new. Not wanting to watch people who have a list of rules in their head, Armando has developed his teaching methods to focus on inspiring students rather than correcting them.

Among a bevy of talk on improvisation, Louis asks Armando why he’s such a reluctant improviser and Armando talks about what it’s like to play with his frequent duo partner, Christina Gausas. Finally, Louis reminds us of this wonderful quote from Elaine May: “The only safe bet is to take a risk.” Amen.

Monday March 16, 2015, 12:05pm - by Magnet Theater

polaroids scattered 10years

Hey Magnet Community!

In case you didn’t know, our beloved Magnet Theater turns 10 years old next month and we’re hoping to celebrate in a big way. We are hoping to put together a collection of as many photos and videos as possible so that we can scrapbook a decade of memories. And we need your help! Do you have photos of Magnet shows, rehearsals, or classes?  We want them! And the older, the better! If you can help us, please email promo@magnettheater.com with files, links to Dropbox/Drive, or physical drop off requests. However you want to get us your memories, we want your help!

Chrissie & Evan

Magnet Promo Team

Wednesday April 11, 2012, 5:22pm - by WillyAppelman

In a city of over 8 million strangers, it’s incredible to find a place that feels like home.  Yet, in it’s 7th year, the Magnet Theater continues to do that for many improvisers, actors and comedy addicts.  The Magnet’s supportive atmosphere focuses on  following your gut and “yes and”-ing in a grounded and personal way.  There is no fast track, improv is like anything else, it takes time to master.  At the Magnet, there is no pressure to be anybody other than yourself.  Much of that comes from co-founder Armando Diaz, who dreamed that the Magnet would “facilitate people making comedy and meeting each other.”  I sat down with Armando Diaz and inquired about this very important milestone:

Willy Appelman: What was the first show in the Magnet Theater space?

Armando Diaz: I was teaching an Evente class and we had our first show in the theater.  The stage wasn’t finished.  It was an experiment for all of us.  We (Ed Herbstman and Alex more