Announcements Galore

cincinnati comedy

Magnificent IC Community,

A veritable plethora of announcements follows. Some say too many. To that we scoff haughtily. 

BEHOLD

Update from Jon and Colin - In case you missed the annual update. Read it here.

Help a Friend - Kurt Lindemann is a wonderful human being and a veteran computer programmer. He was recently let go from his job and is seeking new employment. His specialty is C#.Net. Can you or someone you know help him out? Reply to us if so.

Second City Workshops and Smash Up Show - A new Second City show at Playhouse in the Park means Chicago improv vets are in town. Two cast mates are hosting a workshop on improvised spoken word/storytelling. Sign up here. We're also doing a special smash up show this Friday at 11pm with performers from IC, Second City, and OTRi. Note: Because it's a specialty show, student comp tickets won't apply. Learn details here.

Give Back with Improv(e) Cincinnati - The next event is Feb 23 at FreeStore Foodback. Come give back to the community and work side by side with fellow IC'ers. Note: You must register ASAP via the FreeStore page to attend. Officially register hereFacebook event. If we don't get enough registrants by Feb 5 we'll be ineligible to participate - so register now.

Diversity Scholars Update - Last round's showcase revenue and donations were enough to sponsor three diversity scholars this round. Thank you for making a difference!

Kickstart IC? - To celebrate IC's three year anniversary and to fund upgrades at CPT, we'd like to run our first ever Kickstarter campaign - and we need help. Are you interested in helping or leading this process? We'll need someone with organization skills and creativity. If that's you, reply to this email.

For IC Students

January Mixer - Mark your calendars for 1/27 at 7pm at Chamelon. Meet other students, play silly short-form games together, eat enormous pieces of pizza. What's not to love?

Town Hall and Auditions - Share your thoughts on how things are going with IC and/or audition to be on a house team. Save the date for March 3. See those events and more at IC's new public calendar.  

Help Out - Volunteering at IC shows is a great way to A) set yourself apart in the community and B) see shows. Our illustrious House Managers, Cait and Erica, have created a new way to sign up. Find it here.

Gratefully, 

Jon and Colin

Founder’s Message

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It’s already 2019!? These years really do keep going faster and faster.

We wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year that was, as well as to give a few ideas of what’s to come.

A few fond memories from 2018:

  • Clifton Players allow IC to use Clifton Performance Theatre full time!!

  • Massive IC community turnout to walk aside Ferris Bueller-themed float in the Northside 4th of July Parade

  • New students team program. These allow Core Curriculum graduates the opportunity to play on a coached improv ensemble and perform at IC shows.

  • Performances in the Dam Good Improv Festival and Improv Festival of Cincinnati

  • Creation of Diversity Scholarship funded by showcase proceeds and donations. The scholarship provides additional opportunities for individuals with unique voices and perspectives to take improv class.

  • Impact!

    • 45 classes

    • 148 students took Improv 101: Fundamentals (formerly Level 1)

    • 35 students completed Improv 501 (formerly Level 5), thus graduating from IC’s Core Curriculum

    • 51 shows and nearly 2000 attendees

    • 9 Diversity Scholarships awarded

The Community in Action…

We also refined our values this year. And while values are nice, they’re nothing without action. Naturally, the IC community really stepped up to model them:

Embodying Yes And:
When Clifton Performance Theatre became IC’s new full-time home (thank you, Clifton Players!), the IC community STEPPED UP! Countless volunteers helped pack and move existing costumes, set pieces and props to Clifton Players’ new home. Sean Dillon led an effort to paint the back room and even provided the paint. New shelves and organization systems were installed. The bar was relocated and spiffed up. Sparkling lights now adorn the performance space. Heck, someone even donated the money to buy new LED color-enhanced lights! We are flabbergasted!!

IC’s House Managers are a delight! Not only do they recruit and manage volunteers, make sure show attendees are warmly greeted and served, and take care of the myriad show prep and clean up activities – they do it voluntarily! Furthermore, they’re always finding new ways to do it more effectively! We are the luckiest!

It seems every time we turn around Nathan Mendel is volunteering more time for IC. He has put in 30+ hours to program a custom class registration system for our website – and also has put in the time and research necessary to help us add and upgrade the theater’s equipment. What a guy!

Thank you to everyone who embodies a Yes, And mindset – and extra special shout outs to Sean Dillon, Cait Riley, Erica Bauman, Nathan Mendel, Mary O’Connell, Tone Branson, and our anonymous LED lights donor!

Fostering a fun, inclusive, and friendly community filled with meaningful and supportive relationships:
Sean Dillon’s monthly Mixer exemplifies this value in every way. Everyone feels welcome, included, and safe, and Sean carefully curates the themes and games in a way that helps blend novice and experienced improvisers without either group feeling outside their skill level. We’re also excited to see the game nights, D&D groups, and karaoke nights that have popped up. The community is easily our favorite part of IC, and we can’t wait to see how we grow and support one another in 2019.

Equipping students and performers with the skills to succeed, the opportunities to try, and the freedom to fail:
We may be an improv theatre, but our scripted seasonal shows are outstanding! Tom Schmidlin and Ed Osterman’s Hogwarts parody “Luna” (directed by Cait Riley) was hilarious and wonderful. Mary O’Connell’s spectacular “Twi-Lit Zone” was deliciously weird and stylish, and sold out well before opening night. Both production casts were jam-packed with IC students. It’s our hope they grew artistically and had experiences as unforgettable as their performances.

In 2018, we were also lucky to welcome legendary improvisers, Matt Donnelly and Rich Talarico. Each taught terrific workshops and were hosted by our friends at Rebel Pilgrim.

Improving our theater, our community, our state, our country, and our world:
We’ve mentioned all the work that has gone into CPT, but did you know about Colette Lindemann’s community service group “Improv(e) Cincinnati”? They’ve already volunteered at Freestore Foodbank, made scarves for people in need, and distributed food for Community Matters. We’re excited to see what they’ll do next...

Looking Ahead

We have a bunch of cool things planned for 2019:

Second City Workshops - In January, we welcome our friends at Second City Tourco who will have a month-long residency at Playhouse in the Park. The cast will offer exclusive workshops to IC: “Creating Original Works with Improv, Freestyle Poetry, and Spoken Word” with Asia Martin and Terrence Carey and “Staying Grounded In Your Insanity” with Chuck Normant.

Regular performance schedules are being created and will be implemented in January. This will allow all student and house teams to have recurring predictable schedules. For instance, Veracity (improv inspired by true stories) will perform the third week of every month and Hot Mic (full length improvised musical) will perform the fourth week of every month. Find out more on IC’s calendar soon.

Meeting days - In 2019 we’ll be consolidating auditions and several meetings onto key days. The first is Sunday March 3. More info to come on this. Make plans to be there!

New scripted show - This summer expect a new musical parody of the Star Wars universe, which may or may not involve Ewoks. Tone Branson will direct and Tom Schmidlin and Edmund Osterman will again pen the script.

Additional theater improvements are planned, including a new audio system, a new projector, and a camera system to record shows.

Thank you

2018 reinforced yet again that Improv Cincinnati is more than just a theatre. It’s a community and home for lovable weirdos. We move into 2019 with a passion for great improv, a desire to improve people’s lives, and a love for the students and performers who make this place special. Thank you!

Gratefully,

Jon and Colin

Have a surprising story? RISK! is coming...

 
cincinnati comedy
 

RISK! is coming to town in February, and they’re seeking stories! Check out the message below:

Hello,

My name is Brad and I am looking for storytellers in your area to pitch true stories from their lives for consideration to be in the RISK! live show that is coming to CINCINNATI on 2/8/19 @ LUDLOW GARAGE

Theme: SURPRISE

(Please note: while RISK! like to offer a theme as a launching point for storytellers to brainstorm around, we are much more interested in great stories than we are stories that adhere closely to said theme. Alternate theme ideas might be "What was I thinking?" or "Secrets.")

I am reaching out to you because I found your contact information while looking up storytelling and comedy organizations in your area. I am hoping you can encourage the storytellers, comedians and performers in your community to pitch us their stories for the chance to perform in our live show.

RISK! Is a live show and podcast “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public” hosted by Kevin Allison, of the legendary TV sketch comedy troupe The State. RISK! has featured people like Janeane Garofalo, Lisa Lampanelli, Kevin Nealon, Margaret Cho, Marc Maron, Sarah Silverman, and regular folks from around the world, dropping the act and showing a side of themselves we’ve never seen before. The RISK! podcast gets over a million downloads each month. Slate.com called it “jaw-dropping, hysterically funny, and just plain touching.”

RISK! is not like other storytelling shows. It’s “where people tell true stories they never thought they’d dare to share in public.” We encourage our storytellers to step out on a limb, be brutally candid and emotionally raw. This is an uncensored show where taboos are tackled and people talk about things they ordinarily might not share in mixed company, but might save for their therapist.

To hear some of our stories, go to: http://risk-show.com/listen

For more information about what we look for in story pitches and how to submit, go to: http://risk-show.com/submissions/

Send us your pitch by: 1/4/19 to be considered! pitches@risk-show.com

Please let the performers in your community know about this exciting opportunity as soon as you can, and let me know if you have any questions!

Thank you,

Brad

On The Importance of Object Work

originally by Micah Philbrook

July 3, 2018 14:00

I remember watching youtube videos late one night on improv and object work (yeah, I’m an improv nerd). In this one video*, there was a clip with an improvisor from Barcelona, I believe, who described improv, and specifically object work, as “creating in the minds of our audiences”. That has stuck with me ever since. It’s a powerful concept and one that I think gives improv artists a responsibility for this often forgotten aspect of improvisational theater.

Just in case there happen to be any readers of this article that are not improvisors, that have not devoted time and money to this art, that have not watched or performed in countless shows, dissecting and analyzing them late into the night with friends, then allow me to explain what object work is before I go any further.

In Improvisational theater, “Object Work” (a.k.a. “Space Work”, a.k.a. “Environment Work”) is the act of manipulating negative space to create imaginary props, costumes, and set pieces that help create the world the scenes inhabit. In short, it’s make believe cups and suspenders. It’s very different than what we improvisors call “finger props”, i.e. a thumb and forefinger gun or the Inspector Gadget phone. It’s closer to mime than perhaps many improvisors want to admit, but that is a useful comparison for any non improvisors reading this. If you are still confused, I encourage you to do a google search for the term “object work” and watch any one of the hundreds of youtube tutorials that will turn up, each professing to offer some useful tips and tricks to interested viewers.

But this article isn’t simply on what object work is, but on why I feel it’s important in our craft, perhaps one of the most important aspects, that is sadly often overlooked or completely abandoned.

For Us
First and foremost, I believe object work to be extremely valuable for us as creators in this art form. By existing in our environments, we uncover details that can inspire us and lead to powerful discoveries about our characters and the environment. Simply using the items that would normally exist in a space, say a kitchen, can tell us so much about the character we are creating. How does this person make coffee? Where do they keep the cups? Do they know where the filters are kept in this kitchen? How am I going about this process, am I relaxed like I’m in a home? Is it my home? Or am I being professional or guarded like I am in a work environment? The answers to these questions, uncovered in real time, will tell the improvisor who they are playing and give hints towards their awareness and comfort within this space. If we are open to these discoveries, we as improvisors will find endless material from which to create nuanced and believable characters free from forced or unknowing choices.

For Our Partners
Secondly, I believe that a concentration on object work provides our scene partners similar inspiration about the relationship our characters are in, their character’s relationship to us, their relationship to the environment, and their own ability to exist in the world. Using my kitchen example again, if my scene partner reaches for a cup but doesn’t know where they are kept, do I? And if so, why? And if they are making coffee, perhaps I can get out that tray of pastries in the fridge. What are the pastries even doing in the fridge? And if we’re both preparing food related items, do we work here? Are we setting up for something specific? Or are we merely getting our breakfast together? Is this a special occasion or our normal routine? By being aware of our partner’s choices and actions, often called “moves”, we are allowing for discovery. And if my partner’s moves can lead to discoveries for me, ipso facto, my moves can provide the same fertile ground for my partner.

For Our Audience
It is in this area that I feel the object work skill of an improvisor can be the most profound, even as I admit it’s almost more of a side effect. Our artform of improv is almost entirely unique in the world of the Theatrical Arts (capitalized for importance and pretension) in that we allow for this sort of make believe material creation. I am not aware of any other theater where the actor can create props out of negative space without first explaining what is going on to the audience. It is taken for granted in this medium (sadly, sometimes even by the improvisor) that the actors will be using pantomime to create whatever items and pieces of the environment are needed at the exact moment they are needed. If you consider a broadway production, with their elaborate sets and detailed costuming, it is almost laughable to imagine actors in those shows curling their fingers around an imaginary cylinder and beginning to move their arms like they are using a broom. It would look out of place and therefore the item itself wouldn’t be remotely believable in any way other than as if the character was pantomiming. In improv, the characters are not pantomiming, they are using an actual broom. And since there is that unspoken agreement between audience and artist, I think we have to take this very seriously. But more on that later. What does good object work do for the audience of an improv show? Well, I’ll go back to the first quote I referenced at the start; we are creating in the minds of the audience, in their imagined reality of the world on stage. Every bit of pantomimed object work we create is filled in by the audience. That coffee cup is given shape by the improvisor, but it is given color by the audience member. That tray of pastries is given dimensions by us on stage, but it is given it’s contents (at least initially) by the audience member’s imagination. And as we create more imaginary items, the audience creates even more. If we mention that we are in a kitchen, the audience has already begun defining that space, coloring the walls and creating the counters, using their own experience with kitchens. When we make the motion of sweeping or using a shovel, the audience is calling up their own memories of the same items, allowing their imagination to give color and life to an otherwise make believe situation. And therefore, when we create these items that an audience fleshes out, we need to take that responsibility seriously. They are willing to go along with new developments to their perceived world, but a particularly jarring one, caused by an improvisor not remembering that they are holding a cup or forgetting to open that door as they exit when they closed it as they entered the scene, can throw the whole world into momentary disarray. The effects may only last a second, or perhaps for the rest of the scene. Will it cause them to stand up, exclaim their disapproval, and storm out? I hope not. But it can take them out of the scene and therefore could potentially ruin the experience for them. And even if it transports them out of it for one scene, collapsing their suspension of disbelief, isn’t that enough of a reason not to do it?


SOME NOTES FOR THE IMPROVISOR

Dear improvisor, please don’t get lazy with your object work. Maintain a sense of realism so that you don’t work harder to justify your laziness. What follows are some tips I tell my students and actors when we’re dealing with object work.

Object Work Is Important
Often I see improvisors ignoring object work to focus on character work and dialogue. Sometimes, they focus only on dialogue, letting character work fall away as well. I think this is because in our world of make believe, our words seem like the most tangible thing, ironically. We have to be the kind of artists that can utilize all areas of this art to create. And for reasons I have mentioned above, object work may be the strongest way we can draw our audience in to the experience. By forgoing or forgetting object work, we’re giving our audience (and ourselves) only a small portion of what they could be getting. And we are missing out on some brilliant discoveries in our scenes.

Objects Come From Some Place and Go To Some Place
In that oft repeated improv phrase, there is a lot of simple truth. That cup you’re drinking from can’t just magically reappear in your hand. Remember to set it down and remember where you put it. Your phone doesn’t just start in your hand, you have to fish it out of your pocket or bag. That computer desk doesn’t disappear when you need to stand up, that car door doesn’t close itself, that office door has to be opened to leave the room... You see where I’m going with this.

Avoid Cartoon Eating
When an improvisor is doing some rote action (i.e. stacking boxes) that becomes mindless to them, they will often lose the basic realism of the activity. The same box gets moved to the same point in the other stack over and over again. I call it cartoon eating after the way animators saved time by drawing their characters taking the same bite of food again and again. Instead, make every action real by seeing each box and where you put it. Even in this area, discoveries can be made that will drive the scene forward or create new aspects of character and relationship.

Leave Space For The Broomstick
Whenever I am using an object, like a broom or a shovel, something I close my hand around, I will leave space for the object. It seems like a small thing (and it might be depending on your hand size), but the action allows my brain to continually perceive the object as real. I have seen many improvisors use a closed fist while sweeping and invariably the realism is lost and their hands move out of sync in a way that no one sweeping ever does. Unless their broom was broken or had some sort of odd hinge. This concept can be applied to almost any object, but essentially you’re allowing your brain to do a lot of the work for you by telling it this is not just imaginary space but an actual item you’re holding. By maintaining that encapsulated negative space, you create a bit more reality for you and allow for even more discovery.

Lastly, I want to leave you with a quote from Viola Spolin, the woman who created (modern) improvisational theater, whose son went on to found The Second City. Spolin has a wonderful saying about object work and our individual approach to it. I’m paraphrasing here, but the quote is “If it’s in your head, we can’t see it. If it’s in space, we can all play with it”.

I take this to mean if you really believe the object is real, then it will be real for us all. But if you are only playing make believe, then it will be invisible to everyone. You have to believe it or no one else will.

Is there some aspect of object work that I have left out? Do you have any thoughts or a response to what I’ve laid out above? Let me know in the comments or DM me.

*I can’t for the life of me find that video with the Barcelona improvisor again, so if you know to which one I’m referring, please post it in the comments or DM me. I’d like to link it and give the artists’ credit.

Improv(e) Cincinnati's next volunteer project: Scarfing It Up!

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Date/Time: Saturday, November 10, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Location: Clifton Performance Theatre

We're going to gather at CPT to create great heaping piles of easy, no-sew fleece scarves for a local shelter to distribute to people in need of warmth. If we have time and fingers, we'll also make a few blankets.

No crafty skills? No worries! No skills are necessary for this project. All you need are a pair of scissors and some moderately functional fingers. Here's a video that shows exactly what we'll be doing:
https://youtu.be/vnJEFDiulMg

We will provide some of the necessary materials, but it would be especially helpful if you're able to bring some, as well. Here are the things we'll need:

Fleece fabric - 
Various colors and patterns to appeal to different tastes.
1 yard of fleece will make 4-6 scarves.
4 yards of fleece will make 1 blanket.
Fleece can be obtained at most places that sell fabric (JoAnn, Walmart, etc.).

Scissors - 
Fabric scissors are great for this, but regular old scissors will work just fine.

Folding tables for work surfaces - 
I have a couple I can bring, but we might need a couple more as well.

That's it! It's about as easy as it gets.

We'll make as many as we can from 10am until 1pm, then we'll clean up and maybe go grab some lunch.

Sound good? You can RSVP to this Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1125059867658679/

Or, if you don't use Facebook, you can let Colette know you're coming at cdmarine@gmail.com.

Auditions: The Twi-Lit Zone

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Improv Cincinnati is proud to announce auditions for The Twi-Lit Zone: A New Dimension of Holiday Tales, an original Christmas-themed parody of “The Twilight Zone” by writer Mary O’Connell. Auditions will be at Clifton Performance Theatre on Saturday October 6th from 11am - 2pm. Sign up for an audition slot in the form below…

Rehearsals begin Oct 14th (generally on Sunday and Monday evenings); Performances are December 7th, 14th, and 21st.

Characters:
Frost Whirling, narrator
‘Nezer Scrooge, redeemed misanthrope
Jay Marley, deceased business partner, now guardian angel of Nezer
Bubba Ratchet, simpleton employed by Nezer
Tiny Tubs, spoiled pet dog/cat of Bubba
Frank, obnoxious nephew of Nezer
Accountant, wasteful spender of Nezer’s money
Partygoer, disorderly guest who adds to chaos
Ghost of Christmas Past
Ghost of Christmas Present
Ghost of Christmas Future
Talkin’ Tracy, life-sized doll that always tells the truth
Mom, perfect TV mom, hiding secret “truths”
Dad, perfect TV dad, hiding secret “truths”
Sally, perfect TV daughter who loves Talkin Tracy
Johnny, perfect TV son who wants to be good at Fortnite
Candy Landis, reporter
Red Barry , reporter and old friend of Candy
Lie Detector Scientist
Rudy Brown, beneficiary of Santa’s gifts
Gingerbread Man
Santa
Mrs. Claus
Elf

Name *
Name
Phone
Phone
Choose an audition slot...