Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

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Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby BrettWeaver » April 14th, 2014, 2:53 pm

Hello everyone!

I have been studying the collective here in town and was wondering, do any of the groups here in town work like UCB, Second City, or The Groundlings?

I ask this because I don't know how the three mentioned develop their revolving casts.

Thanks!
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby happywaffle » April 14th, 2014, 4:26 pm

BrettWeaver wrote:Hello everyone!

I have been studying the collective here in town and was wondering, do any of the groups here in town work like UCB, Second City, or The Groundlings?

I ask this because I don't know how the three mentioned develop their revolving casts.

Thanks!


No, I don't think so. None of the Austin theaters have "house troupes," and I don't know of any troupes that have revolving casts, either.

Hell, it's rare for a troupe here to even have auditions; it's usually just a bunch of friends who decide to play together, and maybe (very occasionally) invite a few people to rehearse with them and feel out the chemistry. (There are exceptions—Asaf recently held an open audition for a troupe he wanted to pull together.)

Of course there are *shows* which are a different animal entirely, and do have auditions. But that's just for the run of the show.
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby Spots » April 21st, 2014, 5:07 am

Depends. Which 3 theaters are you referring to?
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby happywaffle » April 21st, 2014, 9:51 am

Spots wrote:Depends. Which 3 theaters are you referring to?


He meant "UCB, Second City, or The Groundlings."
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby Spots » April 21st, 2014, 5:38 pm

My understanding is that That Groundlings is historically the most exclusive in LA.

The story being that there are 30 rotating "Groundlings" at any given time. But seeing as how the demand in Holllywood must be insane, I cannot imagine those 30 slots are the only opportunities at the theater. The 30 thing certainly applies for Groundlings mainstage shows.


That's my hazy understanding of Groundlings. Maybe someone has read a book on this subject or knows.

UCB and New Movement are fairly similar in their troupe casting.

I believe UCB holds auditions after a certain class level, first in order for that student to continue taking classes, then to cast that student in a house troupe.

This structure is fairly common, yeah? Improv Olympic and Annoyance too? Not certain but Im pretty sure about UCB.

Brad Temple, is that accurate?


New Movement has troupe casting for students who have reached level 3. A theater wide email goes out to all students for this casting call. "If youre level 3 or higher come audition for our newest house troupes!"

Troupes are assigned coaches and troupmates. But theres no audition process for taking higher level classes. I think thats a byproduct of high demand at UCB.


Would also love to see more information side by side.



Youll notice that practically everywhere, any mainstage show includes members of that school's faculty. Megaphone and Asssscat no exception.
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby happywaffle » April 22nd, 2014, 8:49 am

Spots wrote:Troupes are assigned coaches and troupmates. But theres no audition process for taking higher level classes. I think thats a byproduct of high demand at UCB.


Yeah, with plenty of improv-learning options in Austin, there's no scenario where auditioning for higher classes would be a good idea. Though Hideout is apparently unveiling a "Level 7" master class; I still don't think there'll be auditions, but it could *hypothetically* be selective in its enrollment. As time moves on, that practice could spread amongst the AIC, but none of the five families have a UCB-style cachet such that they could pick and choose their students.

Spots wrote:Youll notice that practically everywhere, any mainstage show includes members of that school's faculty. Megaphone and Asssscat no exception.


Well, TIT and Merlin Works have a regularly-scheduled faculty show, but the other mainstage shows in town are open casting, with no special consideration given to faculty.
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby bradisntclever » April 22nd, 2014, 10:59 am

Spots wrote:I believe UCB holds auditions after a certain class level, first in order for that student to continue taking classes, then to cast that student in a house troupe.

This structure is fairly common, yeah? Improv Olympic and Annoyance too? Not certain but Im pretty sure about UCB.

Brad Temple, is that accurate?

At the UCB Theatres in New York, there are three levels of house improv teams: weekend teams, Harold teams (perform Tuesdays at UCB Chelsea), and Lloyd teams (they also perform Harolds, but on Wednesdays at UCB East). The Artistic Director controls the rosters of Harold and Lloyd teams. Ideally, the best performers on Lloyd Night eventually get promoted to Harold Night, which clears up space for more new performers on Lloyd Night. Exceptional Harold teams graduate to a weekend slot, where they gain control of their own roster and are no longer bound to do Harolds. Weekend teams looking to add new members will have some of their favorite Harold Night performers sit in on shows and, if they are a good fit, eventually invite them to join the team.

One of the main differences between UCB and iO is that iO lists something like 32 different Harold teams and those teams perform on various nights of the week. UCB has one dedicated Harold Night, and as a result, a maximum of eight Harold teams. Lloyd Night is even smaller - it started with four teams and a fifth was added back in May last year. UCB also likes to stick with eight people to a team, which is less than the 9 to 11 you'll see on a standard iO Harold team.

So, how do you get onto a Harold or Lloyd team? The main route is through auditions, which happen twice a year. The Spring audition is open to any UCB student cleared for the Advanced Study program who has taken a class within the last year. Last year, over 550 people auditioned in the Spring and about 28 were added to teams. In the Fall, there is a round of invite-only auditions. Teacher recommendations, overall performance in past classes, good past auditions and more factor into who gets an invitation. Last fall, 48 people auditioned and 4 were added to teams. UCB Los Angeles doesn't have a Lloyd Night. They also only have six Harold teams.

I mentioned Advanced Study in the last paragraph. UCB has four levels of core improv classes - 101, 201, 301, and 401. Upon completion of 401, students can apply for admission into the Advanced Study program. The Academic Supervisor looks at the student's notes from previous classes, what the 401 teacher thinks and a few essays the student writes for the application. If rejected, the student is encouraged to retake 401 and apply again or some four-week classes tailored to work on problem areas like listening or game. If accepted, the student gets into the equivalent of UCB's grad school, where classes are more elective-based and it's an opportunity to work with top teachers on subjects that interest them.
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby Spots » April 22nd, 2014, 3:50 pm

happywaffle wrote:
Though Hideout is apparently unveiling a "Level 7" master class; I still don't think there'll be auditions, but it could *hypothetically* be selective in its enrollment. As time moves on, that practice could spread amongst the AIC, but none of the five families have a UCB-style cachet such that they could pick and choose their students.



I appreciate exclusive student opportunities. You mentioned Hideout. I love seeing Hideout student show postings. But there have been master classea before.

TIT has its Clubhouse yeah?

I just remember whipping up a terrible graphic for Asaf and the master class over at Institution. My gut is telling me Noelle Welles of SNL was part of it.

Exclusive student opportunities get harder and harder to manage the bigger an entity gets. I always point to the Dunbar Number as the limiting factor. Thats a good goal for number of people an entity could realistically please or manage. Just as my own ideal.


Dunbar's Number:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkeysphere
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby happywaffle » April 23rd, 2014, 8:27 am

Spots wrote:TIT has its Clubhouse yeah?

I just remember whipping up a terrible graphic for Asaf and the master class over at Institution. My gut is telling me Noelle Welles of SNL was part of it.


Uh maybe? It's not an ongoing thing, anyway. Maybe it was on for a little while.



Funny you mention, I wrote a sketch about Dunbar's number for This American Live. A girl reached her max number and had to decide which friends to eject before making a new one.
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Re: Question about the Improv Companies here in Austin.

Postby PyroDan » July 8th, 2014, 5:00 am

I would have to say that both the Groundlings and Second City are run far differently than most improv theaters around the US as they do/teach improv for the purpose of writing sketch material.
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