Posts Tagged ‘Second City’
Mail’s here! Jon Bander (Aquarius), who is performing full time on one of the Second City Cruise Ships, just sent a letter to us here at the Magnet to give us a glimpse of his travels:
Greetings from beautiful “the sea”! Though I miss New York and all you lovely people, I’m really enjoying my time aboard the ship. Things are really different on the ship from New York. For example, I can afford to eat dinner and drink beer in the same day! Godlike, I know. Life is really fun when you can afford it!
It’s amazing how quickly things become routine on the ship. New crews board on Sundays, a few days later we do our shows, and by Thursday we’re being aggressively booed until we dock again Sunday. The shows have been great. We do sketch shows in a theater that holds around 1000 people! Usually the house is packed, unless we’re in any port at all, and then it’s empty. I mean, we’re funny, but we’re not DRY LAND funny.
We rehearsed in Chicago for a week, where we drilled sketches over and over until they were in our bones. Second City treated us very professionally, giving us an excellent director, producer, and support from their entire staff. I felt incredibly well taken care of. They even got me one of those hot dogs with a pickle on it! Eh.
It’s pretty amazing rehearsing on that same stage where so many of my heroes have played. We get to watch the old reviews on DVD, and it’s amazing to see both how comedy has evolved and see people I now know in their original SC revues. Plus they all had hair!
We’ve been to some really beautiful places. Bermuda, Aruba, and Barbados to name a few. But even though we’re far away, it’s still easy to feel like I’m right back in America. For examples, I still avoid the sun. And everyone hates me!
We’ve done some pretty great activities on and off the boat. We’ve been to breathtaking beaches. I had monkeys running around on me, macaws on my shoulder, and a woman hated a bit I did so much that she said, “You guys still here?!” in a contemptuous tone. So it’s all my dreams come true.
Life on the cruise ship can best be described as a combination of summer camp and college, minus the shows. Our cast really gels well and hangs out all the time, which makes things much easier. It’s the first time in close to a decade I’ve had a set group of friends that I do everything with. We eat together in the cafeteria, we hang out together, we cry together. It’s like family! We’ve become fast friends with the other performers, especially the dancers, who make us feel self-conscious at every beach. The nice thing is I get to snuggle with Ross Taylor every night and feel good about myself.
In all seriousness, it’s been a completely fantastic experience so far. I’m very grateful to Second City for giving me the opportunity, and to the Magnet for the training and support that allowed me to get this job. I do miss you, Magnet, and all your wonderful people and shows. I especially miss seeing my Phookas and playing with Aquarius! I miss doing and seeing the great work we all do so much, and I can’t wait to come back to see and play with you all. You’re all my best friends, colleagues and inspirations! So keep it up.
See you in the new year! Check Facebook for occasional photos through which I will try to make you jealous.
Magnet performer Amanda Xeller (The Flood) reached out to one of our performers currently abroad, Ross Taylor (The Wrath, Aquarius). Ross is performing full time on a Second City Cruise Ship. Amanda sent Ross our address and he sent us a lovely update from afar…
Oh how I miss you—your faces and your energy and yes, even you bathroom!
Life at sea is fantastic! Being paid to perform comedy is a gift from Del, and there are so many
ancillary benefits as well.
It all starts with a week of training in Chicago, where the people at Second City treat you like a
real professional and make you feel like a part of the family. All your heroes are on the wall and
you play on the same stage they played upon and the feeling is probably akin to taking batting
practice in Yankee Stadium.
Life on the ship is like living in a luxury bubble, especially compared to the grit and struggle
that NYC requires—food is taken care of, alcohol is ridiculously cheap for crew, and everyone
knows who you are. The sketch shows are usually a packed house of a thousand and the material
works flawlessly. The improv is very different from what we’re used to, of course, but a quick
reminder that it’s providing my livelihood is all I need to sleep well at night. After the first crazy
week on board, rehearsals are few and all in all it’s a pretty light workweek. The passengers are
mainstream America, likely trending a little older, so they aren’t impressed by “improv moves”
but they are pretty good audiences if you give them jokes, which they consume like so much
Aside from work, I get a ton of downtime that I use at the gym, in the sun, reading, writing,
playing music, and hanging out with the rest of the cast and crew. The other performers are great
fun and the crew is pretty friendly. We port every few days and in the first four weeks I’ve gotten
to visit Bermuda, St. Thomas, St. John, Barbados, Caracao, Aruba and Mexico. I’ve zip-lined,
gambled, had beers in the ocean and gotten several layers of sunburn. I’ve chased an iguana and
grabbed a fish and got wifi in the middle of a pack of roosters.
Rooming with Bander is great—I’m somewhat shy at heart, so having a comrade throughout this
experience has made me feel comfortable very quickly. I couldn’t ask for a better cast in that we
all like each other and work well together on and off stage. I’m only a month in, so it’s possible
the turn into cynicism is just around the corner, but thus far I would call it a life-changing
experience and couldn’t be happier to be here.
That said, I miss NYC and the Magnet terribly. The work we do is incomparable and I miss my
teams enormously. The world has a habit of spinning on without you, so I hope that everyone
still remembers me when I return and I look forward to coming home and resuming God’s work
on that stage of ours. All my love to you Magnet—I’ll see you in February!
The Wrath & Aquarius
“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.
Second City Theatricals is seeking actors for ensembles on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. A ship-specific audition will be held at The Magnet Theater Training Center in New York City on Thursday, May 16th, 2013. Auditions will be completely improvised. Performers should be a graduate of a conservatory-level program (such as Peoples Improv Theater, Upright Citizens Brigade or Magnet Theater).
Interested performers should email a headshot and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org ON Tuesday, April 30th or Wednesday, May 1st. Please include “Second City Theatricals – NYC – May 16” in the subject line of your email. On May 15th, there will be a Q&A with Second City Director of Talent, Beth Kligerman, at The Magnet Training Center from 4:30-5:45. Callbacks will be held on Friday, May 17th.
Second City performers are contracted for 4 months at a time.
The Second City was founded in Chicago in 1959 as a hub for sketch and improvisational comedy, and has held a contract with Norwegian Cruise Line since 2005.
This Thursday Sept. 6th at 10pm marks the debut of The Magnet Theater’s 8th Director’s Series! This month, Neil McNamara directs Deep Dish, a long form improv show interspersed with character monologues, a staple of Chicago-style improvisation. In Chicago, McNamara has worked with Second City, The Annoyance, iO and Boom Chicago. Fresh to New York, McNamara is bringing a Chicago staple to the east coast, DEEP DISH!
Featuring Peter McNerney, Beth Newell, Nick Kanellis, Julia Hynes and Neil McNamara.
Every Thursday at 10pm in September! More Info HERE.
This Saturday at 11am at The Magnet Theater, Megan Gray will be moderating a Q & A with improv legends Susan Messing and Christina Gausas!
Messing is a director and actress living in Chicago. Best known for her work with Second City, iO and The Annoyance Theatre, she is well revered in the NYC, Chicago and L.A. improv and acting communities.
Christina Gausas is an actress, writer and director living in NYC. She has appeared on 30 Rock, Delocated, Important Things w/ Dimitri Martin, and Late Night w/ Conan O’Brien. Christina was named one of “The 10 Funniest New Yorker’s You’ve Never Heard Of” by New York Magazine. She is also directing “The Subject” at The Magnet Theater, opening Thursday May 3rd at 10pm and running until May 31st!