Thursday, July 31, 2008

Un-Scripted on the Web

Here are some places Un-Scripted has popped up on the internet lately:

From the Blog The Snail Shell, the author writes about seeing us perform as part of the SF Improv Festival during his trip to the Bay Area:

- An improv show. Two sets, one by some people I don't remember much, one by the Un-scripted theatre company who asked the audience for a (non-musical) playwright, then improvised an hour-long musical in the style of that playwright. For our show, it was Oscar Wilde. It was really slick. And there were only three of them!

From the Daily Californian article about the San Francisco Theatre Festival: "Un-Scripted was lively, energetic and quite impressive"

And a scene from last summer's Shakespeare: Un-Scripted appeared on YouTube. I was in this scene and I'm not sure I can follow what's going on. Stage improv does not translate well to the screen. Just remember that this scene is from a long-form and that some us play more than one character, as delineated by our hats.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dress Rehearsal!!

Wow, now we've got the added pressure of being the Best Theater Company in the Bay Area on top of opening Thursday. In many ways it's unfortunate that we win Best Theater Company right before opening the most traditional improv show we've done in years. The timing would have been so much better to win it right before Three or Theater: The Musical.

I was suffering from generalized nausea inducing stomach bug which left me extremely low energy because I hadn't really eaten much all day. So I didn't really do much. The dress rehearsal section I was in... well... Let' just hope this is a moment of "in like a lion out like a lamb." The second dress rehearsal section that I watched was much better.

I think this show will come together, but it might take a show or two for it to find it's legs. Come! Definitely come! Just realize we're still working out the kinks. Or maybe that's just the nerves talking. When I used to direct shows, I never wanted my cast feeling perfectly comfortable going into opening night. I always wanted them a little worried. That kept them engaged.

Best of the Bay!!!

We won Best Theater Company in the Guardian's Best of the Bay poll!!!
Here's what they said about us:

The Un-Scripted improv troupe elevates comedy from one-liners and shtick to full-fledged theatrical productions with a talented cast and eccentric sensibilities.


Our next show Un-Scripted: unscripted opens this Thursday! Here's when I'm playing:

Thursday, July 31
Saturday, August 2
Thursday, August 21
Friday, August 22
Saturday, August 23
Thursday, August 28
Friday, August 29
Saturday, August 30

Get tickets here:
Read all about the rehearsal process here: Something Like a Chicken Sandwich

Monday, July 28, 2008

Improv Festival Shows!

Thursday Christian and I did a two-man Shakespeare Sci-Fi about a hero marooned on a desolate planet where he finds love with the local queen. Together they restore the planet’s water supply and return it to its past glory.

Friday we did a two-man Becket Mafia story about two bank robbers who first have to take out a $1 loan so they can make change to feed the meter for the get away car. They rob the bank, and get jobs!

Saturday Mandy joined us for a Three-ter the Musical. We got Tennessee Williams and did a wonderful little story about a man who seduces his brother’s wife and steals the deed to his house. That’s some uplifting musical theatre!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two-Man Show this Weekend

Christian and I will be performing a two-man show as part of the San Francisco Improv Festival this weekend. The format will be something akin to Theater: the Genre. We'll get a playwright and a genre and then combine them.

The other half of the show will be USC's Second Nature who will feature a different guest monologists each night, including DANIEL HANDLER on Saturday!!!

For tickets or info go here.

Here's the skinny on Second Nature's guest monologists:
Thursday July 24th Guest Monologist:
An educator and columnist on adventurous sexuality, she's also the author of "The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage", "Master Han's Daughter" and "Wild Side Sex: The Book Kink". Midori travels the world presenting to universities, education events, organizations and media.

She's known for her humanistic, humorous and warm classes that help people to spice up their sex lives and encourage self-discovery and personal growth.

Friday July 25th Guest Monologist:
Andrew Leland
To all accounts, Andrew Leland dropped out of college to become the managing editor of The Believer, a national monthly literary magazine based in San Francisco that stresses the interconnectivity of books to pop culture, politics, art, and music. He also serves as managing editor of the magazine's imprint, Believer Books. His writing has appeared in BOMB magazine and SF Weekly. Mr. Leland has served as a Judge for the Jackson Phelan Tanenbaum Literary Awards.

Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
Saturday July 26th Guest Monologist:
Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket
Daniel Handler is the author of the literary novels The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, and, most recently, Adverbs. Under the name Lemony Snicket he has also written a sequence of books for children, known collectively as A Series of Unfortunate Events, which have sold more than fifty-three million copies and were the basis of a film starring Jim Carrey. His intricate and witty writing style has won him numerous fans for his critically acclaimed literary work and his wildly successful children's books.

Born and raised in San Francisco, Handler attended Wesleyan University and returned to his hometown after graduating. He co-founded the magazine American Chickens! with illustrator Lisa Brown (with whom he soon became smitten), and they moved to New York City, where Handler eventually sold his first novel after working as a book and film critic for several newspapers. He continued to write, and he and his wife returned to San Francisco, where they now live with their child.

Handler has worked intermittently in film and music, most recently in collaboration with composer Nathaniel Stookey on a piece commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, titled The Composer Is Dead (the book with CD will be released in 2008). An adjunct accordionist for the music group The Magnetic Fields, he is also now a member of the post-punk combo Danny & the Kid. He is the screenwriter of the film Rick, a revamp of the Verdi opera Rigoletto, and the film adaptation of Joel Rose's novel Kill the Poor. He is the author of Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Biography, The Beatrice Letters, and Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid. Handler has also written for The New York Times, Newsday, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Believer, Chickfactor, and various anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2005.

He was crowned last year at the prestigious Literary Death Match at Litquake for not only his literary prowess but his mean small basketball toss. In other words, Daniel Handler is the MAN.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finding the Game, Literally

You’ll often hear improvisors talking about “finding the game” of a scene. We took that concept a little further last night by actually playing improv games within scenes without setting them up or even agreeing amongst ourselves before the scene what game we were playing.

This made for some interesting scenes and some funny moments. People would go out on stage with the intent of playing one game, only to have it morph into another. Max, for instance, wanted to start a silent scene, which Tara then turned into Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, and Laying Down. Unfortunately Max never really caught on to the fact that that was the game.

The scene was funny on its own, but anyone in the audience familiar with the game would have enjoyed it on a second level as well. I wouldn’t want to do a whole show this way. I’m a big believer in not hiding anything from the audience, but doing it this way allows for some wonderfully playful discovery leading to scenes you would get no other way.

I knew as soon as we started the exercise that I wanted to start a spit-take scene internally. I kept my water bottle with me at all times, slipping it my pocket when I’d go onstage, not only so that it would be handy, but so that my fellow improvisors wouldn’t suspect anything like they would if I suddenly grabbed a water bottle before heading out. I casually took a drink of water every time I was about to out and start a scene, just in case. The first several times I did that, the scene moved off immediately in another direction so I just swallowed my water and played whatever game had come up, but one time…

I went out with Christian and sat for a long time with out speaking, while he stood for a long time without speaking. When he finally said something, I spit in shock and surprise and then pulled my water bottle out of my pocket. Ah, the effect was beautiful and launched us into a fun spit-take scene.

My other highlight of the night was Mandy and I playing “The Feables”. I’m sure Dave intended for us to sing (did I mention we had David Norfleet at rehearsal and sang a bunch?) when he went out onstage and said “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you The Feables”. Instead we played really old people telling an inane joke as if we were on a seventies variety show. So fun.

Only one more rehearsal left and then we open! Woohoo!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rehearsal #5: Acting

Last night we worked on our acting skills by doing some scenes in the style of playwrights. Actually that’s not entirely true. We started by practicing scenes wherein the characters follow along their own trains of thought rather than reacting specifically to what someone just said. This is hard to do, but produces scenes that feel like they’ve come from a play rather than improvised. We’re taught to Yes And so much and listen so attentively that scenes are way more linear than real life. To do it well though, following your train of thought requires a lot of Yes And-ing and listening.

Then we moved on to scenes in the style of Woody Allen and then onto Neil Simon. I did a really fun Neil Simon scene with Tara, Christian, and Dave as bumbling bank robbers.

Next, we practiced scenes that let into duets. We’ve been singing in rehearsal to a guitar, and it’s really interesting the difference between improvising to a guitar and improvising to a keyboard. I think I like the guitar better, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s that the chord progressions are more predictable. Maybe it just fits my range better. Not sure.

Finally, in the remaining time, we practiced the format, doing a series of short scenes and games. Not sure what we’re doing tonight, but I’m sure it will be fun!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Intros and Transitions

Dave’s vision for this show is for it to be seamless in such a way that it doesn’t seem like an “improv show.” To accomplish that, we had to develop ways to get suggestions and set up scenes without just coming out on stage as an imporvisor to do them.

So, last night, we worked on ways that characters can interact with the audience organically in order to get their suggestions or participation and set up scenes. I’ll admit, when Dave first said were just going to spend some time just doing scene intros, I had a hard time envisioning how this would be helpful, but once we started I dove right it. We had such a fun time coming up with new and inventive ways to seamlessly interact with the audience. I can’t wait to try it out in a show.

Then we worked on transitions, or really, we worked on running little chunks of the show to see how each scene could flow from the next, using what we’d just done with intros. It worked really well. The show is shaping up quite nicely.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rehearsals #2 and #3

Rehearsal #3 was last night, but I wasn’t there.

Rehearsal #2 was last week, and I can’t really remember anything specific about what happened. That’s me falling down on the job. I remember doing scenes and singing and having a really good time.

Rehearsal #4 is next week and I will be there. I’ll also blog about it! Crazy, I know.