#!/usr/bin/php Bovine Metropolis Theater

From Colin Stanley

March 21st, 2014


The only picture I could find of SWARM. I have no idea of what this scene is about.

The only picture I could find of SWARM on stage. I have no idea what this scene is about.

Endings are times of sadness and celebration. Last night my improv team SWARM performed for the very last time. I’ve been performing with SWARM every other Thursday night at the Bovine Metropolis Theater in Denver for about a year. I feel profoundly lucky to have been able to play and get weird with these amazingly talented improvisers. I also feel proud for sticking through the growing pains that the team experienced and I feel that our last few shows count as some of my all-time favorites.

SWARM started as an improv MEGATEAM. It was massive in size, I think 16 players at the start. This proved hard to manage, and our form became the focus of most rehearsals. Our first shows felt awkward and overwhelming given the large cast. Soon team members started dropping out and the cast dwindled, and we continued to struggle. SWARM seemed to lack a “group mind” and often before shows, cast members would ask each other for a reminder of how to execute our form. Our form consisted of four quadrants, each containing a separate scene, which would eventually converge on a common phrase and signal us to break out of the quadrants and continue long form improv scene-work inspired by our common phrase. Got it? Good because we sure didn’t. Instead of playing and having fun, we were wrapped up in our heads about doing the form “right”, or at least I was. Needless to say, we had some less than stellar performances. I think our quadrant divisions on stage is a good metaphor for our division in group mind, or not, I’ve never been good at metaphors.

My time with SWARM was taking its toll on me. Until that point, my improv career had been mostly full of good experiences and now I was feeling frustrated with my own and my team’s performance. I didn’t get into improv to feel frustrated and stressed, I got into improv to have fun and do weird things with weird people on a stage in front of strangers. It was during this time that I was considering leaving the team and focusing my creative efforts on other projects. The only thing keeping me from quitting was my fellow cast members whom I adore. I didn’t want to abandon them.

We got an email in January letting the cast know that SWARM reached its run limit as a house team at the Bovine and would be disbanded in March as per theater rules. At that same time, something changed with SWARM. We stopped trying so hard to “fix” SWARM and started to just take advantage of the stage time we had left. We started to have fun. We started to play. We started to have killer shows!

I don’t know if it was the knowledge of our imminent demise that led to SWARM finally clicking, or if it just organically correlated with that news. Either way, I’m glad it happened because it taught me a wonderful lesson. Your stage time as an improviser is limited, so don’t spend it thinking about form. Form is impersonal, cold, and unemotional, which is everything that good improv isn’t. Focus on your teammates, because they are the interesting part of a scene. Audiences come to see people with passion and bravery; they didn’t come to see people standing in quadrants.

I was blessed to improvise with the cast of SWARM and I will look back fondly on my experiences on stage with everyone involved. I’m sad that it’s over, but so happy that we ended on a high note.

Remember, it’s never too late to start having fun!

Colin

What Kind of Improviser are You?

August 21st, 2013

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

– Henry Ford

One of my students years ago gave me a book called “Mastery: The Keys to success and long-term fulfillment”.  It is a short book and great. It talks about the 5 different types of learners. The Dabbler, The Obsessive, The Hacker, The Expert and The Master.

The Dabbler starts strong. They are into it 100%. When they meet their first challenge (or a great one) they decide that this is not for them and try something else.

The Obsessive want immediate success.  They throw themselves into whatever they are doing. They push themselves and everyone around them to go past their limitations. They want to be great from the first class. The obsessive makes great strides followed by great falls and then plateaus until they start obsessing again. They can burn out or burn the people around them out.

The Hacker just wants to do it. They want to play and get on stage. They are not interested in improving and they are fine with the status quo of their performance. They might even fool themselves into believing that they have peaked and reached the best they can do.

“Expert” is a code word we use at the theater for someone who can’t be taught. It is usually someone who had a class in college and thinks they know everything about  improv. They are not here to better themselves. They are not here to learn. They are not here to improve. They take classes just to get into shows or to “show off” their skills. We can’t get through to them, therefore we have nothing to offer them. They are done on their journey even though they might not think they are. The expert will also argue and correct the teacher and the other students in class. They believe they are right, everyone with something new to say is wrong.

The person striving for mastery (the Master) still is learning. They read books, take workshops, study, and discuss their passion. They know that they don’t know everything. They are trying to become better and learn and hopefully add to the art.

Masters Practice. They put the time in to keep their skills. They play. They focus on strengthening their weak point and pushing their strengths. They spend time trying different techniques and skills.

Masters Surrender. They give up being the expert. They trust their teacher. They absorb the book. They are open in discussion. They know that they don’t know everything.

Masters are intentional. They know that the things in the mind become real with visualization.  In sports this might mean seeing the putt in your head before swinging the club,, but in improv this meas that we see the space objects on stage. If we are supposed to be in love, we believe it and don’t question it. We know that the reality of the stage is real.

Masters are always pushing themselves to the edge. They are putting themselves in situations that push their skills and even their physical nature. They are always stretching how far they can go, thereby increasing how far they can go.

What kind on improviser are you? Are you in the process of mastery? Is this something that is a journey for you. Something that you are fascinated by and understand that you are not so much a part of it as it is a part of you? 

 

I am still learning.

 – Michael Angelo age 90   

Wellness: Comedy as Medicine

May 16th, 2013

This is an article that was on the 5280 Magazine website.

We couldn’t agree more!

Wellness: Comedy as Medicine

Come and laugh!

The Bovine.

 

Act, jump, call.

April 20th, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zkTf0LmDqKI

An Open Letter to The Bovine Community

January 11th, 2012

The Bovine Community is embarking on a great experiment.  You will decide which teams play on Friday nights and which play on Thursdays.  It is in your hands.  The people are what make this community: the students, players, coaches, teachers, etc., you are The Bovine.  So you decide.


It’s up to you to see groups, laugh, learn and find the positives in every group.  Go and see all the groups and enjoy them all.  If a group has a bad night, go and give them a second chance.  Have fun, see improv, make The Bovine better.


It’s up to you to decide which groups uphold the values that you decided were the important to create a fun environment at The Bovine (see last blog).  It is up to you to decide which House-Team:

Inspires you and pushes the art form.

Creates the most fun atmosphere at the Bovine.

Is the most supportive on and off stage.

Embodies the concept of Group Mind.

Is consistent and yet constantly improving.

You have 2 months to see all the groups.  Watch all the groups and vote this March.

You are the community.  You are The Bovine.

You decide!

Sincerely,

 

Eric Farone
Artistic Director
Bovine Metropolis Theater
303-758-4722

The Constitution of Bovine Metropolis Theater House-Teams

January 6th, 2012

 

 

We The People of the Bovine Metropolis Theater shall strive to create unique performances that are FUN for the Audience and for the Players. At The Bovine, group mind means more than individual performances, where truth creates laughter, and where connection is valued above comedy.

 

The mission of the Bovine Performers, Coaches and Producing Team is to positively influence their immediate communities and the world through connection, acceptance, being present in every moment, and having FUN!

We value FUN — fun for our Players, fun for our Audience, and fun on and off stage.  All rules and guidelines are designed to reinforce the value of FUN as decided by the members of Bovine House-Teams, Coaches Council and Producing Team as of September 2011.  FUN can be had by all, through embracing the core values of the Bovine Metropolis:

The Bovine Metropolis’ 6 Values

1) Group Mind: The concept that the group is more important and powerful than the individual. That as individuals we are in service to the art of improvisation and the group;

this helps us discover something larger than the sum of the Players.

Group Mind is demonstrated by:

Showing up to rehearsals and shows on time

Willing and ready to have fun

Being positive and accepting

Enjoy being a part of the group

Valuing and listening to the input of all members equally

Supporting each individual in the group and helping them succeed

Promoting the idea of Group Mind

 2) Coaches: Individuals who provide an objective eye, an insight to individual development, and help foster an environment where group mind can flourish.

Coaches can demonstrate this is by:

Showing up to rehearsals and shows on time

Willing and ready to have fun

Teaching and mentoring improvisers

Communicating effectively in person and in writing

Committing to the individual and the group’s improvisational development

Being accountable and keeping high standards for the group

Focusing on the success of the Bovine Metropolis Theater

3) Creativity and Improvisational Development:

Being committed to surprising yourself and your audience with your choices, actions and improvisational forms.  Individuals who push themselves and the art form in an effort to expand the art while entertaining the audience.

Teams and individuals can demonstrate this by:

Creating and performing new forms

Taking chances and pushing themselves on stage

Inspiring other individuals and groups to push the art form

Produce shows that are surprising, yet still enjoyable and understandable from an audience prospective.

Actively pursue opportunities to learn about the art through workshops, classes, and discussions

Actively creating opportunities and times to play with others.

 4) Enthusiasm for Bovine House-Team Performances:

By encouraging people to see Improvisation, we grow the art form, increase the energy in any given show, and we show pride in our efforts, team and the Bovine theatre community.

Teams and individuals can demonstrate excitement by:

Positive and joyful participation

Promoting shows and events through social media

Word of mouth

Email, posters, postcards, etc.

 5) Support of the Individual, Team & Bovine Community:

Creating and maintaining a safe and supportive environment helps builds trust on and off stage.  Fostering a sense of play encourages more risk taking during performances.

Teams and individuals can demonstrate this by:

Fully participating in shows, rehearsals, and warm-ups

Attending Improvisation shows when not playing

Having “mistakes” on stage become golden gifts

Being positive and professional before, during, and after a show

Serving as an example to outside groups

 6) Being a Part of the Bovine Community:

Having the opportunity to grow as a Player and a group, to learn from each other by being part of a larger community. Having a shared language, rituals and understanding.

Teams and individuals can demonstrate this by:

Understanding you are a member of the larger Bovine Community

Sharing experiences and insights with individuals

Positively supporting all groups whether you are a member or not

Be excited to attend events at the Bovine Metropolis Theater

Exude love for the art of Improvisation

 Article I.

The Bovine House-Team Community

Section 1.  Bovine House-Team Players 

Players must be cast on a team by audition

Players must attend 4 out of 6 rehearsals

Players must attend 4 out of 6 shows

Players must follow the theater/show’s rules and guidelines for play.  If they are asked not to play one night by the producer of a show (for any reason), this affects their overall attendance

If a Player can’t change performance nights with their team, the Player will be assigned a new team on the same night or asked to re-audition at the next cycle.

We want Players who are dedicated to improving as performers, are happy to be performing at The Bovine Metropolis Theater and are excited about their group. Playing on a Bovine House-Team is a privilege, not a right.

Players may ask their Coach for a Hiatus.  A Hiatus is a period, of no less than 2 weeks and no more than 6 weeks, where the Player is taken off “Active Player” status, but still a member of the Bovine House-Team.  On Hiatus, a Player may not perform with the Bovine House-Team.   Before a Player is taken off Hiatus they must attend at least one rehearsal before performing with the Bovine House-Team again. The team’s coach will determine when a player returning from hiatus has attended enough rehearsals and is ready to join the Bovine House-Team on stage.

All Players are responsible for holding up the standards of the theater, including but not limited to knowing and applying the following living documents:

WELCOME TO A BOVINE HOUSE-TEAM : http://www.bovinemetropolis.com/improv/bovine/view=BOVPage/PageContentID=58

BOVINE METROPOLIS : ETIQUETTE FOR PERFORMERS: http://www.bovinemetropolis.com/improv/bovine/view=BOVPage/PageContentID=53

BOVINE METROPOLIS: DRESS CODE FOR CASTS & BOVINE HOUSE-TEAMS: http://www.bovinemetropolis.com/improv/bovine/view=BOVPage/PageContentID=56

BOVINE METROPOLIS: LANGUAGE & CONTENT GUIDELINES: http://www.bovinemetropolis.com/improv/bovine/view=BOVPage/PageContentID=60

 

Section 2. Coaches

The function of a Coach is to be dedicated to rehearsals, shows and giving effective notes in an effort to advance the players and the team.

Coaches:

  • Communicate with the performers regarding scheduling of rehearsals and performances
  • Communicate with the Producer for your show, about scheduling issues, and known absences
  • Run rehearsals, making sure that 4 out of 6 are lead by the assigned Bovine House-Team Coach.
  • Attend shows or make arrangements to watch, and give notes on 4 out of 6 shows
  • Give notes that are focused on increasing the fun for every Player on the team
  • Be the primary disseminators of information from the Coaches Council to the Active Players
  • Participate in auditions to fill open slots for your team, when needed
  • Make sure all Players follow the rules of the Bovine and the show in which they are performing
  • Run the day to day business of their team without having to go through the council
  • Build Group Mind through being positive and accepting
  • Support the Bovine Community by attending shows and being active outside the Bovine House-Team
  • Foster an environment of support through being enthusiastic and giving honest, immediate feedback.
  • Help promote and generate enthusiasm for groups, shows and the theater in general
  • Push Improvisation skill-building through the teaching of technical skills, proficiency, and taking risks on forms and new ideas
  • Coaches are selected by the Bovine’s Executive Producer in tandem with the Artistic Director.  The basis for selection is willingness to enact the principles and guidelines set down in this document and the evaluation of the prospective coach in their abilities to create and foster a fun and supportive team, group mind and to aid individuals in their growth of the art form.
  • Each Coach chooses the form for their team based on the cast or personal vision.  Each Coach determines, based on their own vision and on Players available, how large their team will be.  Teams need to be at least 1 Player and no more than 16 Players.
  • Each Coach keeps records of the member’s attendance, determines what constitutes a Quorum to have a rehearsal, and is authorized to compel the attendance of absent members or ask them to leave the Bovine House-Team in an effort to create Group Mind.
  • Each Coach casts their Bovine House-Team.  The Coach may ask Players to transfer to a Bovine House-Team that plays on the same night if, in their determination, the individual Player is not contributing to group mind because of play styles, skill set, or other factors.  If a Player is not contributing to group mind because of attendance to rehearsals or shows, then they will be dropped from the team and asked to re-audition.
  • A Coach is an outside observer to give objective feedback to the group, for that reason Coaches must not perform with the team they coach. Coaches may play on a Bovine House-Team on which they are not the Coach.

 

Section  3. Coaches Council

The Coaches Council is made up of all the Coaches of active Bovine House-Teams.  Their goal is to improve the quality of play on the Bovine stage for all troupes, across all shows and to have the best teams and Players be rewarded with more playing time. The Coaches function as a group focused on increasing fun.

The Coaches are the most direct way in which the Bovine mission of teaching and mentoring improvisers is achieved. The Coaches Council enthusiastically takes on the responsibility of fostering an environment of creativity and collaboration, where improvising individuals learn to build group mind in order to create mind blowing performances.

The Bovine is a “teaching theater” where improvisation skills, etiquette, and professionalism are all taught by example and experience.  The Coaches Council serves as the leading example for other Bovine improvisers.

The Coaches Council members are responsible for all aspects of Bovine House-Teams, including, but not limited to, casting, coaching, team creation and re-evaluations of team fit. The Coaches Council meets each Quarter to look for ways of improving the Bovine House-Teams.

The Coaches Council runs all auditions for Bovine House-Teams.  Coaches who are looking to expand their cast must do so through the audition process. No players may be added without auditioning.

 Any problems arising between Coach and Players or between two different Bovine House-Teams or between Bovine House-Team and The Bovine must be addressed by the Coaches Council.  If no resolution can be reached by the Coaches Council, the Producing Team is asked to resolve the matter.

 

Section 4. The Bovine Metropolis Theater Producing Team

The Bovine Producing Team includes the Executive Producer and the Artistic Director.  They may include any advisors or employees they want to add to the group who will serve in the best interest of The Bovine Metropolis Theater.

The Producing Team has a fiduciary responsibility to the Bovine Metropolis Theater.  They serve the needs of the theater, keeping in mind that the Bovine Metropolis Theater is set on creating an atmosphere of fun, trust, encouragement, development, and pushing the art of improvisation in a sincere aim to make the world a better place. This is accomplished by fostering collaboration through the fun, study and practice of improvisation.

 

Article II. The Bovine House-Teams

Section 1.  Bovine House-Team Creation

Bovine House-Teams represent and reflect all the values of The Bovine Metropolis Theater. They are the heart of the theater.  They make the Bovine a fun place through the practice and implementation of The Bovine Metropolis’ 6 Values. 

Coaches be the starting point for all teams.  If someone wants to coach they need to let the Bovine Metropolis Theater Producing Team know that they would like to be considered for a coaching position. When a Coach is approved and joins the Coaches Council, they start the process of creating a new team. They go to the next scheduled audition as a Coach and cast their team.  With few exceptions, new teams are given first choice for Players.

Bovine House-Teams be are given a night to perform and put on a standard performance rotation.  All newly formed, re-named teams will start on an off night.  Once the team is cast, they will be given a 3 month rehearsal process before being put in the standard rotation of performances.  After 6 months of its inception (3 months of performing), and after at least one more round of auditions, the team will be “set”.  All active Players on the team at this 6 month mark will be considered “Original Members”.

Each Bovine House-Team is given an 18-month run, with the following exceptions:

1.        A team that is moved to a “premier” night by Election, continues the duration of its original run or 12 months, which ever is longer.

2.        A “premier” night team that receives top honors in voting at the end of its 18-month run is given its own weekly show with time, day and run-duration determined by the Executive Producer.

All Bovine House-Teams will be retired at the next audition date after its 18-month run.

Run-times begin on the date of a team’s on its first performance.

Section 2. Bovine House-Team Maintenance.

When vacancies happen in a team, the team must wait until the next audition cycle to fill out its ranks through audition.  If a team falls below 50% of its Original Members it is renamed, moved to an off night, and allowed to add new players from the next audition cycle.  The new team finishes the original team’s 18 month life cycle.  If a team falls below 30% of its Original Members it finishes out their scheduled run for the quarter, and at the next audition it is retired.

No Bovine House-Team may cancel more than 2 rehearsals in a scheduled 6 rehearsals time frame.  A Coach canceling rehearsals due to schedule conflicts with the Coach, low attendance in rehearsals, etc. (exceptions include emergency performances, recognized holidays, Acts of God, etc) results in one of the following actions as deemed appropriate by the Couches Council:

Expanding the teams members through auditions

Redistributing the Active Members on the team

Replacing the Coach

Retiring the team

At least half of all Active Players on any Bovine House-Team must be at any and all performances.  If less than half of Active Players are at any given performance, the team may still perform that evening, however, when a Bovine House-Team has 2 performances in any quarter where less than half of the Active Players perform, the matter will be brought to the attention of the Coaches Council.  The Bovine House-Team in question is either sent to an “off night”, expanded by audition, or retired, whichever is deemed appropriate by the Coaches Council.

Each Bovine House-Team must keep notes of its shows, rehearsals, and ‘Ah-ha moments’, and on a set rotation, each team is required to publish insights, ideas, and opinions on the Bovine web site blog.  These blogs may be written by the coach or by an Active Player as selected by their team. Blogs should inspire, give insights, and opinions that could help the Bovine Community or Players with the art of Improvisation.

A Bovine House-Team can request a new Coach if they find that their Coach is not providing the leadership, accountability, focus, standards, time, communication, and vision that the group requires.  At least 80% of the group must agree that a new Coach is a necessary action.

The Bovine Producing Team can remove any Coach or Player for cause at any time.  Cause being defined as someone who is not adhering to this document, or is in some way creating a hostile and/or unsafe environment at the theater.  In addition, if he/she fails to support the individual, the team, or the Bovine Community in its effort to improve improvisation, create fun, and build the community, is also cause for removal as decided by the Bovine Producing Team.

If a coach leaves a team, the Coaches Council must look at the options available to determine. Whether the Active House Team should be assigned a new Coach or be retired.

Section 3. Casting

We believe that auditions are a seminal part of our beliefs at The Bovine.  Auditioning is the only way an improviser may become a member of a Bovine House-Team.

Casting will be done at least 2 times a year once during the Winter and once during the Summer, with extra auditions scheduled as required with a 2 month advance window as determined by the Coaches Council.

Players must audition every time they want to be considered for a new team, with one exception:

Players who are Active Members of a Bovine House-Team may ask for a lateral transfer to a different team.  Players can ask to move from one team to another team playing on the same night at any time.  They will then be placed on a Bovine House-Team without the need of a re-audition, as determined by the Coaches Council that would be the best fit for the player, teams and the theater.  Players who ask for a lateral transfer to a different team on the same night, may also not have a team to go to if due to Group Mind, size limitations, etc a good fit cannot be found on the same night and then would have to re-audition.

Players who are on a team which has been retired must audition to be placed on a new Bovine House-Team.

A Player may audition for both a “premier” night and an “off” night.

Section 4. Selections

There are multiple nights for teams to play.  The Bovine Metropolis Theater wants to ensure that the Bovine House-Teams that are doing the best work get rewarded with the most play time.

Bovine House-Teams move from “off” nights to “premier” nights and back based on a vote held every 6 months. The vote is polled from the Bovine Community (current students and active regular performers in Bovine produced shows that are not Bovine House-Teams), Bovine House-Team Members, The Coaches Council, and the Producing Team.  Elections are held in the spring and fall, and apply to the next quarter schedule.

The voting-share break-down is as follows based on current, active members:

Bovine House-Teams:        30%

Bovine Community:            30%

Coaches Council:               30%

Producing Team:               10%

Elections are based on The Bovine Metropolis’ 6 Values that the Founding Bovine House-Teams have deemed crucial for creating a fun, creative, and exciting environment in which to perform.  Each Bovine House-Team Player, Bovine Community Member, Coach (as part of the Coaches Council), and member of the Bovine Metropolis Theater Producing Team gets one vote for each role in which they actively participate.

Ballots consist of 6 measures, one measure for each of The Bovine Metropolis’ 6 Values.  Voters vote for the top three Bovine House-Teams on each measure.  The votes are tallied and percentages apply.  The Bovine House-Teams that receive top honors will moved or stay on a “premier” night.  Teams that do not receive top honors are placed on “off” nights.

The results of the election with regards to the Bovine House-Teams, who garnered top honors are published on the Bovine website.  The Coaches Council is given full voting details in an effort to encourage, build, and remediate teams.  Feedback on each Bovine House-Team’s strengths will help the Coaches build and encourage Bovine House-Teams.  The results will be given out on an individual basis, if asked for; however in an effort to create a more positive environment, the complete voting tallies will not be published.

In the event a ‘Premier Night’ Bovine House-Team dissolves, has to be moved (due to low performer attendance), or is retired in the middle of an election cycle, the Bovine Producing Team selects a team to move to the premier night, until the next election.

Section 5. Bovine House-Team Rehearsal and Play

The Bovine Metropolis will do its best to provide all Bovine House-Teams with rehearsal and performance space.  If a Coach and the Bovine House-Team prefers to rehearse outside of the Bovine Metropolis Theater they need to get permission from the Executive Producer. The Bovine will try to provide as much infrastructure as possible to provide allow the Coaches and Bovine House-Teams to focus on fun.

If a Bovine House-Team desires to perform outside the Bovine, the following guidelines must be followed:

The team’s Coach must ask the Executive Producer for permission to play outside the Bovine.  In general, teams will only be allowed to play at another theater when the Bovine is dark, or in special circumstances (i.e. an approved fundraiser, Improv Festivals, etc.)

Teams must consist of the current Bovine House-Team members only

If someone plays with a Bovine House-Team who is not currently on said team, they are listed as a Guest Player or a Special Guest

Teams must be identified the following way: “House-Team Name’ a Bovine Metropolis House-Team”

If more than 50% of the Active Players of a specific Bovine House-Team are playing together, it is considered a Bovine House-Team performance and the above guidelines must be followed.  Teams not adhering to these guidelines will be sent to the Coaches Council for action.

 


 

Active Bovine House-Teams at Ratification January 1, 2012

“Alpha Squad”

Joshua Kirk: Coach

Tim Camarillo

Matt Fogel

Jim Gaffney

Jessie Hanson

Miko Khan

Lannie Pihajlic

Dayna Scott

Carrie White

“Ball Pit Popcorn”

Dee Morgenthaler: Coach

Meredith Badler

Haley Driscoll

Brandon Ehrhart

Lindsay Giachetti

Jessie Greaves-Smith

Jessie Hanson

Tom Hobelman

Allison Schnettler

Micah Smidt

Andrew Smycheck

“Factors”

Kat Bond: Coach

Asa Erlendson

Chris Gropp

Michelle Marlowe

Laura Miner

Carla Steckman

Jeanette Cerami

Samantha Provenzano

Connor Duffy

Robert Rosenthal

Nick Trotter

“Blood and Mints”

Carl Anderson: Coach

Reid Fenlaw

Liane Houseman

Danny Kolendowicz

Jaimie Kulikowski

Jared McBain

Lauren Von Englen

Arash Zedeh

“Have A Nice Play”

Eric Farone: Coach

Sam Gallaher

Erika Gonzalez

Brian Kaplin

Natalie Kilkenny

Macy Matarazzo

Spencer Reedy

Cheryl Pack

Jean Schuman

“Dungeon Cave”

Eric Farone: Coach

Kat Bond

Asa Erlendson

Liane Houseman

Scott Piebenga

Joshua Robinson

Spencer Rybacki

Kent Welborn

“The Fillers”

Keith Rains: Coach

James Clark

John Everett

Deb Hultgren

Josh Kirk

Kim Kutt

Christine Lederman

Jason Metter

Rollie Williams

“The Contestants”

Matt Fogel: Coach

Emma Myers

Holly Jackson

Kelly Calderon

Nicole Nelson

Tony Nguyen

Travis Grant

Meredith Young

David Schultz

Brian Lampert

“Platypus Surprise”

Spencer Rybacki: Coach

Suzanne Crawford

Tim Doran

Brandon Ehrhart

Asa Erlendson

Natasha Gleichmann

Chris Gropp

Doug Johnson

Will Nuessle

Robert  Rosenthal

Lannie Pihajlic

Andea Rutherford

Andrew Smycheck

Michele To

 

Things to do in Chicago when your unemployed.

November 12th, 2011

I loved my time in Chicago.  When you are unemployed there are still a ton of things you can do to have fun and keep positive.  Unemployment itself sucks.  But combine it with the mid-west winter and no sunshine for 4 months and it really sucks.  Many years ago I was broke and unemployed in Chicago and still kept it positive.  Here are some tips from me to my friends who are moving or have moved who are looking for work or just trying to save money or just trying to keep positive.

First, join a gym or a yoga class or an aerobics class or a TM group find a church group that meets everyday.  Do something you love.  Something that is good for you mentally and physically.  If you can, make it happen first thing in the morning so you have to set your alarm, you have to get out of the house and you start each day off with something positive.  You may have to pay for this, but if you find a gym or classes that have a monthly charge and you are going everyday, you are getting your monies worth.

Free Stuff.

There are free improv sets at The Second City on main stage after each performance of the main stage show.  This means going down to The Second City on a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday night at 10 p.m. to watch a half hour or 45 minutes of free improv, but what else have you got to do?  Plus, this is a great place to meet people with jobs who might know who is hiring.

The Art Institute is free to Illinois residents on the first and second Wednesdays of every month.  GO!  It is the most amazing way to spend 3 hours and not spend a dime and you will never tire of visiting it.

The Library.  The library has DVD’s, CD’s and books.  If you are going to spend time in a cozy coffee shop you will need something to read while your electronic device is charging.

Downtown Bars on Fridays.  Downtown bars usually have free happy hours as a way to bring in the working people of downtown Chicago.  Some suck and are just chips and salsa and some are amazing! Get dressed up in you business attire and go down to a bar keep looking for the good ones and eat for free.  Get a water and tip the server.  Also bring a copy of your resume with you, because you already look like your working and you never know.

Get the Chicago Reader.  It is a free paper and is a must read every week.

Go see live music.  Yes you will have to spend money, but going to a bar that hold 300 people to see a band like “The Killers” live working on new material is oh so worth it.

Go to the grocery store on the weekends.  A) So you can cook meals at home and save money and have home cooked food in your tummy.  B) They have free samples around noon on Saturdays, so it acts as a meal replacement. C) You can create some childhood favorites.

Stock up on your favorite warm drink.  Nothing is better on a freezing cold day blizzardy day when everyone else has to go to work than to cuddle up with your favorite hot beverage and read a book and watch the people outside your front door fighting the wind and blowing snow while you are cozy and warm.

When the Cubs start playing again, go down to Wrigley 30 minutes after the game has started.  Scalpers are still out there and you can usually get tickets for $5 or less.  Also, go to some of the bars around Wrigley, there are always people going to the game that have an extra ticket that they might hand you as they are walking out the door and into the game.  It is not unusual for the bartenders to have extra tickets or know who does.  And if the creepy guy gives you a ticket, you don’t have to sit in his section!

Unemployment is what this moment has for you.  Enjoy it.  You will be working again soon and for the rest of your life, so relax, keep positive, get out and do stuff and enjoy Chicago!

Audio Blog

November 9th, 2011

Hi Faithful Reader,

The other night I got to do an audio blog with Rollie Williams and James Clark about me and Denver Improv.

Listen to it if you want: http://denverimprovpodcast.tumblr.com/ but if you do put your headphones on, I am drinking and swearing.

Yours Truly,

Eric Farone

“Improv”ing: The Game

November 1st, 2011

So many people want to get better at Improv (one of the ironies of improv is that you never get better until you stop wanting to be good and just play).  I believe that all expertise comes from getting deep into a subject.  I also think that it is easier when you are playing games and having fun.  With that in mind I have made up “Improv”ing: The Game

Your goal is to get the most points in a week.  You can play by yourself or against friends.
You may not score more than 5 points a day.
Here is how you score points:

Performing in an Improv Show                           = 5 points
Improv Classes                                                      = 4  points
Rehearsing for an Improv Performance            = 4  points
Watching an Improv Show                                  = 3 points
Reading an Improv Book                                     = 3 points
Talking about Improv                                          =  3 points
Watching Improv on Video/YouTube                =  2 points
Immersing in Pop Culture                                    =  1 point
Watching a popular TV show, Movie, Etc          =  1 point

Getting drunk                                                        = 0 points
Going to a sporting event                                     = 0 points
Going on a date                                                      = 0 points
Watching a favorite TV show                               = 0 points
Weekly activities i.e. Dodge Ball, Karaoke, etc. = 0 points
Visiting with relatives                                           = 0 points
Doing Laundry, Cleaning, etc.                              = 0 points

SCORING:

25+ points a week = Winner!  Great Job!  I hope you are having the time of your life, because if you can keep this up you may be doing this for a long, long time.  You obviously love improv and you must perform.  You go see other shows, you are performing, rehearsing, studying, discussing and thinking about improv more than 5 days a week! You are getting better and having more fun each and every week.  You might not see it, but you are growing by leaps and bounds.  Have a blast!

20-24 points a week = Really Good Job!  You must love this stuff.  You must be playing and rehearsing, but you can never watch enough Improv. Go watch some more and deconstruct it, until you see every choice, feeling and reaction.  At this rate, in a few months you will be playing at a different level.  Keep it up!  It’s a lot, but it beats watching TV every night.  Soon you will be surprising yourself on stage every time you get out there.

16-20 points a week = Good job. It is hard to get the big points without performing a lot.  Form another group and find someplace to play more.  Go see more improv.  Talk about what you saw and not just evaluate it, but figure out what it was that made it fun or horrible. Go to see all the shows.  Be a fixture.  You are doing incredible and you should be having more fun each and every week at this rate.

11-15 points a week = Okay.  You are into Improv, duh.  You may even play, but are you getting better? Are you always out of your head?  Are you part of the Improv community? Do you want to?  Time to ladder it up a little.  At this level you can get better after years of play, why not jump up the commitment a bit and cut that time in half?

6-10 points a week = You have got to get out more to see improv.  Talk Improv with the people at the theater.  Talk with folks after it.  Take a class (or another one).  Form your own group.  If you want to get good at something you have to do it at least 3 times a week.  You are close to something wonderful, keep going!

0-5 points a week = You may be able to enjoy Improv and even understand it more than most, but you are never going to be a great improviser at this rate.  Time to re-double your efforts or pick something else to be passionate about and just be content watching and laughing.

That’s “Improv”ing: The Game.  I hope you have fun playing!

I am a member of the Improv Community

July 19th, 2011

What is a community?

I think we all agree that a community is made up of a group of people with common goals, ideas or needs.  This commonality can be location, spiritual or interest oriented.  The community can not be centered around one person or just one thing or it is just a cult.  It must be something broader that transcends the here and now.  It must be big enough that many different people can find a value of coming together under the umbrella of the community.

Communities are also inclusive.  They bring in everyone and welcome everyone.  They support and encourage everyone at every level of commitment to the community.  If the community stops being patient and starts ridiculing others, it stops being a community and starts being a club or a clique.   Without this idea of supporting and encouraging people to take the next step deeper into the community it fails.

According to the Oxford Press:

The word “community” is derived from the Old French communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (’cum’ = “with/together” + ‘munus’ = “gift”), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.

So community is not only a group of people with a commonality, but a group of people in service, or with a duty to each other.  So community means we are in service to the others in the community.

We in the improv community need to remember to be in service to each other.  Each next level needs to reach out to the level before it and encourage, support and help.

Improv players need to encourage each other.  At the Bovine when we go out on stage the last thing we say to each other is “I got your back”.  We need to act on that on stage and off. Not just to other players, but we also need to reach out to the current students and newbies and encourage them to keep going and keep having fun.  There are no cliques in an improv community, because cliques are divisive, mean and exclusive.

Coaches and teachers need to encourage each other and support each other.  We need to mentor the people who want to coach and/or teach.  We need to encourage the new players and coach the current players to support each other on and off stage.

During classes and rehearsals we need to remember that there are no good players and bad players.  There are only people who want to be a part of this community and we need to encourage and support them.

Simply put, community’s are inclusive, bring everyone up and are about service.

As always, due to the huge amount of spam we receive,  if you please make sure you include the word “improv” in any comments you leave, we will make sure that they get added to the post.  Thanks!