show run vs. ongoing troupe

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show run vs. ongoing troupe

Postby beardedlamb » April 24th, 2011, 10:29 pm

what do you prefer as an audience member and as a performer?

- a specially casted show in a limited run
- an ongoing regularly rehearsing and performing improv troupe
- some kind of hybrid
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Postby KathyRose » April 25th, 2011, 12:57 am

As an audience member, I'd say "hybrid." I'm most likely to buy a ticket (and bring friends to see a show) when I know that I like the troupe, or at least some of the players in the show. Familiar troupe members mixing it up with new players every now & then is (a) really fun to see for a change and (b) a great way for me to discover new "favorite improvisers."
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Postby Chuy! » April 25th, 2011, 2:03 am

Chicken Fried Steak and all that...
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Postby Deano » April 25th, 2011, 11:22 am

As a performer, hands down, show runs. With a show run you prepare like a small army and then get many chances to re-experience the night. I find with troupes there isn't nearly as much preparation taken to make the show a success.
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Postby ejbrammer » April 25th, 2011, 1:48 pm

As a performer, I actually like both. I like the excitement and transitory nature of a show run, with its definite end as a perameter, getting to work with new people, getting to focus on a style and a goal, and its theater-like nature. And those types of shows I don't think it would be interesting to keep them alive forever.

That said, I do think there's something really awesome about a group that changes their style together, that likes working together, that gets to know each other intimately over the course of many years together, that grows and almost thinks together. There's something really cool about watching The Frank Mills, PGraph, ColdTowne, etc who know each other in and out and still have fun playing.
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Postby sara farr » April 25th, 2011, 2:04 pm

I think it depends on the group/show.

    Some groups don't do rehearsals -- they've been playing and hanging out with each other for so long that they are both experienced and connected. I'll go see these shows any day.

    Some groups don't do rehearsals -- because they just improvise for fun. This is their hobby and they're not taking their performance seriously, because that would not be fun for them. These shows can be fun, but often times are just silly. I usually don't want to go see these shows.

    Some groups rehearse -- because they are working on skills and trying to get connected. The shows are "tests" for their rehearsal process, to see if they can retain what they are learning and overcome their own issues. I don't really want to see these kinds of shows.

    Some groups rehearse -- because they are trying to elevate their already elevated craft. I'd go see these shows bc the group is strong to begin with.

    Some show runs are really new and experimental -- and they're not sure if it's going to work. They rehearse and try to make it work, then the shows start. Some shows may work, others may fall flat. These shows are a gamble, and are not my first pick. Usually I wait to hear what the other people say about it to decide if I want to pay to go see it.

    Some shows runs leverage subjects they know work, or at least they know they work in other entertainment media -- and on top of that, they rehearse. These shows are usually hits because they are already starting from an entertaining base. I'd go see this type of show before an experimental show.

I've been teaching "Introduction to Game Design and Development" this semester. It includes curriculum devoted to teaching students what is FUN. I think designing video games has strong ties to creating films, amusement parks, and improv shows. The number one rule is to find out what makes the game FUN or entertaining, and then get rid of everything around it that may cover up the "fun". Instead, you want to heighten, expand, and exaggerate the things that help raise that FUN factor. If you're trying to design a show that is going to ENTERTAIN an audience, think about the thing that is entertaining and get rid of anything in the show that would distract or cover up that fun thing. Instead heighten and extend the things that help elevate the FUN factor.

My 2 cents.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 25th, 2011, 2:33 pm

as a performer, i agree with Liz...i'm a fan of both. Being in a troupe to me is like being in a play and rehearse and evolve together and there's a drama and mythos and language that develops that's unique to that group and it's an intensely unique experience.

but then being in a limited run show is like being cast in a play. all of that energy is condensed into a microcosm of time and you start developing instant connections and a tiny little "bubble family." and there's something delightful and doomed and wonderful and sad about that as well...

as an audience member...well, with the exception of a few troupes, i honestly don't care. because at that point, sitting in the audience, it's rather indistinguishable. there are certainly some people i like to watch perform, but i'm far more interested in seeing different formats and ideas play out. and as far as that goes, there's no appreciable difference between the two from an audience perspective. for all i know, as an outside observer, False Matters could be a troupe that performs every week. the Starter Kit could be the cast of this limited run of shows. and i wouldn't know or probably care...i'd just enjoy the heck out of both shows and if i happened to see the name pop up again, i'd want to go and see it again. ;)

with that in mind, i'm way more interested in seeing an interesting or experimental format than my umpteenth montage or Harold. unless you're doing a really interesting or experimental montage or Harold. ;)
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Postby Brad Hawkins » April 25th, 2011, 3:48 pm

I don't know! Someone cast me in a show and I can find out!
The silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe. A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee. She says "My body is the life; my body is the way." I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride's bouquet.
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Postby vine311 » April 25th, 2011, 4:38 pm

I love being in a long standing troupe that rehearses regularly and performs regularly. Trouble is, that doesn't happen much anymore. There are a very tiny handful of troupes that perform regularly these days. You've either got to own your own theater or already be on the short list of troupes that have regular show slots to make that happen. Getting regular, consistent stage time is pretty scarce these days for plain old "troupes".

So, that leaves limited-run mainstage shows. I love them too but it seems that just as the ensemble is starting to gel and the run hits its stride, the run is over. "Showdown" was an exception because I felt we had a strong ensemble pretty much from day one. That was an exception to the rule though. Usually, those things take time.
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Postby Roy Janik » April 25th, 2011, 6:33 pm

vine311 wrote: You've either got to own your own theater or already be on the short list of troupes that have regular show slots to make that happen.

Or hit up a bar, a coffeeshop, a dance studio, or the storage closet behind a video store to make it happen yourself.

I ain't sayin' it's super easy, but it's certainly possible.
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Postby Spots » April 25th, 2011, 7:48 pm

Funny Roy, I was just reading this post from 2007:
York99 wrote:Post part 1:

Allow me to make a prediction about how the AIC, nay, the improv scene in Austin, will change in the future. Right now, the troupes hold a lot of power. There is a relatively small number of troupes and a relatively large number of performance slots.

As the number of troupes increases, so will competition for show slots. The schedulers will then enjoy the power shift. Troupes will be forced to step it up. There will be added pressure to REALLY market yourself because if there isn't an audience or shows are not up to par, the schedulers will have the power (and desire) to not schedule said troupe as much.

This, my friends, is the way of the world... and it's not a bad thing. Competition is good. It raises the bar. The best thing to happen to Coca Cola was Pepsi.

From this thread>>> ... c&start=90
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 25th, 2011, 9:53 pm

i should also mention my love for the hybrids. i love long running troupes doing limited runs of different formats. 8)
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Postby sara farr » April 25th, 2011, 10:58 pm

Roy Janik wrote:Or hit up a bar, a coffeeshop, a dance studio, or the storage closet behind a video store to make it happen yourself.

I ain't sayin' it's super easy, but it's certainly possible.

I definitely agree - it ain't easy. The jump from "performer" to "producer" is a big one. However, if driven, you will do it. I am producing/directing a 1hr 40min PIP show in Sept/Oct at the DAC that I hope can attract non-improvisers. I recommend the DAC for those trying this, but you got to get on their calendar a year in advance. And you can't pay the rent with the ticket sales -- you have to invest up front.

It definitely gives me a great appreciation for all the lovely people who've held the role of producer/director on an improv show.
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Postby mpbrockman » April 26th, 2011, 8:17 am

Hey, I like both. I've been with GGG for what - 4-5 years now? I still enjoy doing musicals with those ladies.

However, I don't think there's any rush quite like when I play with new people and it just gels.

The example I like to hold up of that was when I played for the first time with Jill Bernard at a LAFF (I think) show doing Drum Machine. I was just going to sit there and watch this person I'd heard so much about but never met. As she starts her show she turns to me and asks if I'm playing. I said "Well, that wasn't the plan, but sure."

I can still sing "Workin' on a Gun Line" from that little impromptu bit of magic.

As solely an audience member; I don't think I'd make that demarcation, Jeremy. I think (for me) it revolves around cast. I could watch a long-standing group like Pgraph or Brave New Workshop do just about anything and enjoy it because the players are of such high caliber; but I could say the same of any specially-casted limited run show provided the cast was of similarly high quality.

Elitist b*stard? Eh, possibly.
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Postby jillybee72 » April 26th, 2011, 10:38 pm


As for myself I like being in one of each under ideal circumstances, because I have assorted itches that need scratching.

In reality I have no time to rehearse anything so I don't get to do anything that requires rehearsal. I should fix that, that's a nice goal, to get to do one rehearsy show some day soon.
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