Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rehearsal #1: Getting to know you


We had our first rehearsal for Un-Scripted Un-Scripted last night. The exact punctuation of the title is still up in the air, so until it gets set, I’ll refer to it that way. I like the title. It reminds me of “pizza pizza” from the old Little Caesars ads, or the Circus Circus casino.

It’s a short form show, which we as a company haven’t done in over a year and I personally haven’t done in almost 2 years. I’m really looking forward to stretching those muscles again, especially with the cast Dave’s assembled. Unfortunately it looks like Derek might not be able to do the show after all, but even without him I think it’s a strong group.

Last night we worked mostly on basic exercises, word-at-a-time stories, I am a tree and genre freeze tag. Then we moved on to playing some moving bodies. That game really does show you all the different physical things you could be doing in any scene if you weren’t so focused on the words.

Many improvisors don’t realize this, but most games where developed to help build skills for regular scene work, but they were so enjoyable in their own right, they became used in performance. Moving bodies lets one person focus entirely on talking and another focus entirely on movement. The result is very eye opening for both. One thing we noticed, for instance, was the scenes had more head petting than we’ve ever seen in a regular scene, but there’s no reason not to do that in regular scenes.

Then we moved on to 4-way dubbing, which builds your listening skills as well as teaches you to have reactions to things. Since you can’t speak for yourself, you have to react and hope the person doing your voice gets it. Or, you have to react to justify what they just had you say.

Rehearsal #2 is tonight. I think we had a solid beginning.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Auditions!

The Un-Scripted Theater Company is looking for experienced improvisors for our upcoming improvised show: Un-Scripted: unscripted.

Show Description:
To heck with formats! This August, Un-Scripted breaks down the walls between us and the audience, bringing you . . . whatever we want! Short scenes, songs, musical instruments, things we did long ago and want to bring back, things we've never ever tried before and always wanted to. It's a shortform show that will seamlessly flow along without breaks for introduction, sweeping the improvisors and the audience on a ride of improvised possibility. Fun, huh?

Auditions will be Monday and Tuesday, June 16 & 17, 2008. They're group auditions, so you should plan to be there from about 7pm to 9:30pm. To sign up, email the producer Mandy (rhymes with Gandhi) and let us know whether you prefer Monday or Tuesday. Mandy will send you a confirmation with your date, the location (still TBA), and your handy-dandy audition paperwork.

In order to give you the best opportunity to show us your improv skills, we try to keep our auditions as light and low-pressure as possible (more like a workout or improv jam than a normal theater audition). We'll even email you the audition paperwork ahead of time, so you can fill it out in the comfort of your own home and bring it with you. We want our auditions to be fun and stress-free, so you can just come and play with other improvisors who love improvising as much as you do.

If you'd like more information about the audition and rehearsal process, and what we might be looking for when casting, you can visit the auditions page of our website. We offer a stipend of $50 for the run of the show.

Rehearsals will begin around June 24th and continue on Tuesdays until the show is over. The show performs Thursday-Saturday, August 2 - 30 at 8pm, at the SF Playhouse Stage 2, 533 Sutter St. in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reviewed!

We got a great review last week in the East Bay Express. Of course the show is over now, but still:

Meanwhile in San Francisco, the Un-Scripted Theater Company is improvising full-length stage musicals in the style of the non-musical playwright of your choice. The group has done fully improvised musicals before — notably The Great Puppet Musical and the holiday show Let It Snow — but this is the first go-round for Theater: The Musical. Over the month of May a rotating cast of actors has been coming up with two-act tuners in the mode of David Mamet, Samuel Beckett, Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Woody Allen and Neil Simon. (Simon wrote Sweet Charity, but rules are made to be broken.)

The night we saw the show it happened to be an all-female cast and the playwright chosen from audience suggestions was Lillian Hellman. (No one uses her book for Candide anymore, so it's easy to pretend she never wrote musicals.) Usually five out of the pool of ten actors perform, but this time six women quickly whipped up the characters and story arc on the spot and belted out improvised lyrics to the spontaneous keyboard compositions of David Norfleet.

More melodrama than comedy, the plot that emerged was somewhat inspired by The Children's Hour in exploring fear, loathing, and sapphic suspicions at a girls' boarding school. Susan Snyder became the new teacher, Mandy Khoshnevisan the snobby establishmentarian, Karen Hirst the spiteful gossip, Tara McDonough the awkward nerd, Debra Shifrin the budding idealist, and Laurie Glapa the absent-minded dean.

Some songs were meandering, others remarkably catchy, but on the whole what emerged was often quite funny and more solidly constructed than some scripted musicals that have passed through the neighborhood. (Lestat comes to mind.) When there were long pauses, especially when things were still taking shape, the actors used the awkwardness as a character choice.

Because each performance is an entirely different show than the last, you could see three completely new musicals in the one weekend remaining, each never to be seen again. Theater: The Musical isn't just subverting musical theater by making it look easy — in a particularly immediate form, it's what live theater is all about.