dubstep remix
Skip to Content

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

Posts Tagged ‘Director’s Series’

Monday December 30, 2013, 11:00am - by WillyAppelman

OneHitWonder_475x273

The Director Series is a monthly improv installation wherein a director picks a new form and sets it on a new cast. This month, Michael Lutton is directing “One Hit Wonder”. We chatted with Michael via email to discuss the form.

1. What is ‘One Hit Wonder’?
One-Hit Wonder is a new form that Jon Bander and I came up with. It’s a narrative that follows the story of a band: how it was created, how the group became famous with their number-one hit, the band’s downfall and where the band members are now. I wanted to direct it because I think it has a lot of fun possibilities. Everyone is familiar with “Behind the Music” and biopics about recording artists, so there is a lot to play with, and with that simple story arc the improvisers will have a lot of room to find patterns and develop characters.

2. How does this differ from normal Musical Improv?
This form uses documentary-style interviews to bookend scenes, and since the story arc is one that is already familiar, the cast members are free to focus more on character dynamics.

3. What is your favorite one hit wonder?
The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia by Vicki Lawrence is one of the best story songs of all time, and I will fight anyone who says different. Physically fight them.

4. What is the future of musical improv?
Musical improv is usually narrative, which is a lot of fun but also very challenging. Moving ahead, I think groups will find new ways to tell stories. Our musical program is relatively new and still growing, but we a have a few veteran groups that are doing interesting things with form and genre, and starting to test the limits of what you can do with a musical. I’m very excited to see what happens next!

‘One Hit Wonder’ premiers Thursday, January 2nd at 9pm and continues Thursdays at 9pm in January!

Wednesday November 13, 2013, 11:47am - by WillyAppelman

large_thewake

During November, Alex Marino directs the latest installment of The Director’s Series, The Wake. Every Thursday night at 9pm, The Wake takes you on an adventure inspired by an obituary. I interviewed Alex via email to discuss The Wake and his inspiration behind the form.

What is The Wake and why did you choose this form?
The wake is a form I started thinking about when i was taking classes in LA. I was feeling kinda frustrated because we had been working on the invocation, which I found really interesting, but a lot of my classmates were really dismissive–they’d roll their eyes if they didn’t think the suggestion was cool, they seemed a little bit mocking of improv itself. It was LA and they were just too cool for it. So I started trying to think of a way to approach the invocation that would force performers to at least have a little bit of respect for the suggestion… and I figured “what if you had to do an invocation of a person who had just died… in a room full of people who loved them.” So it kinda stayed in my head gestating for a while. Then when Magnet first opened I was approached by a practice group, it was one of the first groups I’d coached in New York, and that was Louis Kornfeld, Megan Gray, Charlie Whitcroft, Jon Bander, Corey Grimes, and Kelly Buttermore. And after working with them for a little bit I asked if they’d like to experiment with this form I’d been thinking about and they were totally game. What we arrived at was a modified invocation of someone in that day’s obituaries, inviting them to come into the theater and share their story before they go. I heard, and this may be apocryphal, that the practice of holding wakes came from a period in Ireland where they disinterred a lot of old graves and found scratch marks on the inside of the coffins. They realized that something like 1 in 10 people were being buried alive. So they decided to leave the dead out in for a period of time after they passed to give them one last chance to wake up. So the Wake seemed fitting as a name for the form. I kinda liked the notion that this show is one last chance for the dead to come back.

I chose it for this Director’s Series because it had been a while since I’d seen it done and I wanted to work with the original cast again. A couple years ago I taught a class in The Wake, and those bozos have been asking me when they were gonna get to do it again, so I thought I’d invite them along too.

What do you find funny?
All kinds of stuff. Smart stuff, dumb stuff. Deep stuff, light stuff. Lots of things are funny. To me, the funniest thing to think about is that we’re all just a huge biological accident that learned how to wear clothes and comb its hair. That shit is hilarious to me. We’re a mostly bald, mostly flimsy, slow moving animal, with small, dull teeth and worthless claws. We can barely climb, we can’t fly, or hold our breath very long. We have bad backs and lethal allergies to peanuts and shellfish–but not all of us, so you don’t even know if someone is allergic until they just almost die. We eat and drink through the same hole we use to breathe and speak, and somehow we’ve survived long enough to figure out space travel, novelty t-shirts, iPhones and art that goes on your fingernails. It’s incredibly funny to me just how we spend our time.

Do you find death funny?
Death is not funny, no, but everything around death is funnier because of it. Death is the ultimate straight man. I think to have laughter there needs to be a break in tension, which means there needs to be tension to begin with. The more the tension and the bigger the break, the more satisfying the laugh. The uneasiness people feel when they’re faced with death is a great primer for laughter, and that kind of laughter makes it easier to live with death.

What is the future of improv?
I dunno. At some point enough people are going to complain loudly and correctly enough about not getting properly recognized and compensated for content they improvise for commercials and movies… so probably a union will come out of that. And you’ll see “additional content improvised by” in the credits of films which will be good, but things will be weird… or maybe they wont. Maybe the improviser union will be chill. Eventually there will be an improvised show that is so undeniably good that it will get a run on Broadway. Eventually there will be an improvised show that wins a Tony. Some people will be upset by that… or maybe they wont. Maybe Broadway will have relaxed a bit by then. Someone is going to bring a true and honest, disinterested study of improvisation with all its techniques, history, and various applications to the university level, build a curriculum around it, and just like performance studies and jazz you’ll be able to get a college degree in improvisation. I would like to think that degree in improv would be worth more than getting a degree in performance studies or jazz, but it probably won’t be… and after four years, it definitely won’t make anyone a better improviser than performing in every black box and bar that will let you… but, no matter how much actual experience you may have in the field, you’ll need to have a degree in improv to be able to teach improv at the university level… So that will be a nice little scam.

The Wake plays every Thursday in November at 9pm. Make Reservations Here!

Monday October 8, 2012, 1:26pm - by WillyAppelman

The Director Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form, is presenting it’s GREATEST HITS!  This month, your favorite shows are coming back!  The Monoscene (10/11), The Movie (10/18) and Evente (10/25) will make appearances with completely different casts during the month of October!

“The Greatest Hits” starts this week with The Monoscene directed by Alan Fessenden!  The Monoscene is an improvised form that takes place entirely in one location with no edits of any kind. Like an improvised one act play we get to see the different stories and relationships that inhabit a single location.

Featuring: Megan Gray, Sean Taylor, Quinton Lodder, Maddy Mako, Emily Shapiro, Angela Demanti, Jason Scott Quinn and Matt J. Weir.

More Information Here! 

 

Wednesday August 8, 2012, 9:23am - by WillyAppelman

The latest installment of The Director’s Series, directed by Rick Andrews, opened last Thursday to a loving Magnet audience!  The Weave, the 7th installment of The Director’s Series, is a “rule-less” form that encourages organic improvisation in two parts.  The cast did a wonderful job of incorporating the suggestion into a string of organically found scenes.

The show started with a trio taking on the mythical tales of “Ernesto”, a mysterious wise old man.  It then transformed into a physical game, in which two brute doctor’s are trying to save a man’s life. The scene continues until they were transfused into an entirely different set of circumstances from the other trio.  The six players found themselves onstage, slowly dying from a gas leak.  This quickly became a scene about a love triangle which transformed into Olympic Gold Medal winners.

The show continued, weaving (sorry) in and out of different scenes, only to call back what was necessary.  It ended, like all shows should end, with a backflip.

The Weave continues this Thursday at 10pm at The Magnet Theater, and continues every thursday at 10pm for the month of August.  Make sure to catch a performance before it’s took late!


Wednesday February 22, 2012, 3:39pm - by WillyAppelman

 

No screenplay.  No budget. Yet  it’s a film worthy of an oscar nomination.

But if you’re not there you’ll never get a chance to see it ever again.  On Thursday Feb. 23rd at 10pm, The Movie will have it’s last show as part of the new ‘Director Series’ at The Magnet Theater.  A stacked team of seasoned Magnet performers fill the stage to create a filmic masterpiece. Spielberg can suck it.

Directed by Ed Herbstman, this improvised movie is better and cheaper than anything out right now and it’s actually in 3-D for real!  Make a reservation, turn your cell phones off and please don’t talk back at the screen. Because there is no screen. They are real people. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

Tuesday January 31, 2012, 10:45am - by WillyAppelman

Growing up it was a bi-monthly event in my family.  We’d drive 45 minutes to the nearest movie theater, go out for Chinese Food and then go see something.  Something big.   But starting this Thursday my bi-monthly childhood treat will become a weekly one…

“The Movie” is coming to Magnet Theater!  This improvised long form will leave you a bit breathless.  It’s an entire improvised film, complete with cuts, pans, zooms, helicopter shots, and maybe even some prohibitively expensive CGI.  And if we’re lucky, we may get some Chinese Food before (but probably not).

It might be a heart-warming coming of age picture, or a tear-jerking sports hero battling cancer sort of thing.  Or maybe a sci-fi horror ‘stuck on a planet battling a monster (but the real monster is their own inner demon)’ sort of movie.  Maybe a combo of all three.  Doesn’t matter though.  I’ll be there.

“The Movie” is the first installment of The Directors Series, a 4-week series of performances wherein a Director selects a cast and presents a different form.  This month Ed Herbstman is directing Fiona Mallek, Jamie Rivera, Louis Kornfeld, Peter McNerney, Chet Siegel, Nick Kanellis, Christian Palluck, Woody Fu, Elana Fishbein and Alex Marino.  Every Thursday at 10pm in February!

Oh, and it’s part of Thursday Night Out – you get to see the whole night of shows for one $7 ticket.

–Willy Appelman