The struggle of casting

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The struggle of casting

Postby Asaf » March 10th, 2008, 11:14 pm

So it seems like every once in a while we have this stretch where it becomes hard to get a full cast. This last one was tough. Luckily by the end it worked out and we had 13 players. But it was a struggle to get the last 7 of that.

I know there is a lot going on but we have more troupes than ever so why do we have a smaller pool to pull from? Are there reasons why people might be keeping away from Maestro? (I know I kept away for a while because one show a night was plenty and it wasn't working to do two. Now I keep doing Maestro because of a need to plug in holes.) Is there something missing from Maestro that you are pulling back from signing up for it.

Also, are there more troupes that might want take over one night of it. It was fun to have the Improv For Evil theme for one night. Would like to see that happen with more troupes, ESPECIALLY ones that are more affiliated with Coldtowne. I would like to see what a Look Cookie Maestro would be like.
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Postby bilbo » March 11th, 2008, 12:27 am

oh, hell. a look cookie maestro? i don't think ANYONE really wants to see that...
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Postby Justin D. » March 11th, 2008, 1:03 am

I think SXSW might have had a lot of influence on this past weekend's casting. I said I'd be in the show if I didn't make it into one of the movies, but I did.

I'd also love to see more ColdTowne people take part in the show. I remember a few ColdTowne-trained people telling me what fun they had in the Maestro portion of the Same Year's Eve show.

When we have these dry spells in casting, I notice there's usually a reoccurring event that could be a potential cause. The extremely late cast calls is a problem, and it's been brought up before. A few weeks ago, it seemed like people were fighting to get into Maestro. Then, we had a week where the cast call didn't happen until Friday morning. Immediately, the drop-off in participants happened, and I seriously doubt that's a coincidence. Whoever is directing that week should have the cast call up by at least Monday afternoon. Hell, myself and other many others have said multiple times that we'd be for the cast all going up even before that. It's also good to have the cast list announced earlier. I've seen a cast call go up on Monday and more than enough people have signed up for it by Wednesday morning.

Also, because no one gets paid for these shows, a little incentive would be nice. Nothing big, but maybe at least let cast members mention their troupes when introducing themselves if they want to. This happened during Same Year's Eve and Out of Bounds, and I thought it was a great, simple, smart move.
Last edited by Justin D. on March 11th, 2008, 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby winwin » March 11th, 2008, 1:46 am

Shana's 301 class just did their first Maestro on Sunday (yesterday).

Some of us might be willing to give it another go. Pm me if you want me to check.

~ Aisha
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Postby Aden » March 11th, 2008, 9:23 am

I know that I've been staying away from Maestro personally because it's been a lot less fun for me since Rich Ross was here. I enjoyed having him here, but the attitude around Maestro in general (since he left) has been a lot less playful. I don't like to hear words like "work" right before a show... and it seems like I keep hearing directors are really wanting to "work on" this or that... so it's just not that enjoyable for me.

When those who sign up to play walk away feeling like they had fun, they encourage their improv friends to play and casting isn't an issue.

I'm not opposed to work as a general concept, I just like to view shows as fun time, and I'm not yet intellectually evolved to the point where I can tell myself that work is fun, or that when one imp says 'work', I'm really hearing the word 'fun.' Instead I like to be encouraged to be wacky, wild and free. I'm too serious as a general rule, so if someone doesn't give me a kick in the pants to have fun... it doesn't occur to me I guess.

There's my twenty cents worth.

Here's what I would like to hear before a show: "Go out and make the funnest choices on stage that you can. Do what's fun for you!"
And that's the whole point. Isn't it?
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Postby HerrHerr » March 11th, 2008, 10:14 am

Maestro needs to be a professional, organized show with directors and cast set in advance more than just a few days before the show.

The notes are virtually pointless and run too long. Back when I first started playing, I wrote down notes in a personal journal. I haven't seen many of the newer people doing this. So, why have them? I am not opposed to notes, but I keep hearing a lot of the same notes from show to show. How the hell are we going to make the games, especially the more difficult ones, work if people don't really put in the effort to improve?

Maybe we need a Maestro board...

The hodge podge nature of the how the show is run drives me nuts. The scenes within the show are improvised, the entire structure of the show and who plays and directs each week should not be improvised. Also, we need to find a way to warm up for more than just twenty minutes before the show starts. This is the only connecting time many improvisers have with each other.

I think the idea of having a troupe play is a fun novelty from time to time, but ultimately it defeats the purpose of the show. 12 random, mostly nameless, numbers out to to battle with each other. I think having a troupe perform sorta defeats this purpose. Not totally opposed to this, just,please, do it sparingly. Work on the dynamic of how the show can be run more professionally before trying to fix things with gimmicks. Sparingly have other themed shows too.

I have 101 thoughts on Maestro, but I'll stop short right now. I do like Maestro a lot. It can be a lot of fun. A total blast. But it is a show where a person may wind up only being in two scenes and done for the night. I don't mind this, but other people are starting in improv within a troupe and not within Maestro (like I did). Why bother playing in a show like this when you can have more scenes with a troupe show? I do it because the energy in Maestro is awesome. When things are smokin', they are hot.
Sometimes it's a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.
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Postby Aden » March 11th, 2008, 10:59 am

Reading Ceej's post got me thinkin'

I think there should be auditions for a Maestro cast that runs for two or three months. The cast could be around 20 people with a rotating schedule and room for guests; and as people are interested in playing they could be rotated in, as others who burn out are rotated out. Notes would then be meaningful and the same notes would not need to be given every time as Maestro player's improved their performance.
And that's the whole point. Isn't it?
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Postby kerri » March 11th, 2008, 11:18 am

i dont know about the rest of look cookie but i wouldnt mind trying more maestros.
i wouldnt mind doing a couple of mock games before the show. in the same way doing some mock scenes before the show can sometimes get the junky stuff out, and also to help get familiar with players you havent worked with beyond just from warm up games.
although like i have said i have only done it once so i dont really know much about it.
i just finished tom bookers advanced class, i bet a bunch of the people from that class would like to do maestro, theres a few people who have done them before like kristin and ann. we all liked working with each other. i'll feel around and see how many people are interested in doing a night.
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Postby kaci_beeler » March 11th, 2008, 1:42 pm

I like to play once or twice a month, but recently I've done some maestros that make me think, "this is the last time I do this show for awhile," because
a) the scenework in the show is mediocre
b) the show goes too blue too fast
c) the players have a manic energy that shows in their rushed side support

I love that maestro is a fun and playful show and I love getting to side-support scenes and games, but I don't love it when the improv content and style is sacrificed because it gets a laugh. We can still do good and funny scenes without having to lower the bar - and I think there are a multitude of ways in which we consciously and subconsciously lower the bar.

Maestro is an awesomely accessible show that often sells out. Players with varied levels of experience can take part and the show can be really sweet, but it all takes WORK.

Before you can play, there needs to be focus, so that that play has a purpose and a desired result.
Players need to know how to play the games. Directors need to have everything prepared beforehand, not 10 minutes before the show starts.

Mostly, I don't want maestro to be the place where we think we can get away with bad improv.
We can still use our skills and give the audience a good time. Being playful doesn't mean having a "I'm just going to do whatever on stage!" attitude. We owe it to that audience to give them a good show and we owe it to ourselves to do work we can be proud of.
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Postby LuBu McJohnson » March 11th, 2008, 4:05 pm

Personally, I just don't have enough Saturdays free to attend Maestro regularly, so it's not that I hate Maestro or anything, I think it's pretty bitchin', and I definitely think that SXSW had an effect on your performer attendance. That being said...

I'm more in line with Aden's way of thinking, that the players should just worry about having a good time, and be fun and silly and wacky and not have to worry too much about things. My bastardly conscience, on the other hand, tugs at my sleeve and tells me that Kaci makes a good point: that the audience paid money for a show and that they should come away feeling like they saw something that was worth a damn.

I would like to marry these two idea(l)s and put much more responsibility in the hands of the director, like other people have been saying. What I took away from Rich Ross' workshop is that yes, there SHOULD be more work. For the director. If a scene is getting out of hand, the director should ground it. If someone tries to do a walk on as a monkey or whatev, the director should have that person smote (improviacally). If it looks like the cast isn't focused, the director should say beforehand "here, try these warm-ups, and take a look at these list of games that we're gonna do for the show."

Now the cast won't feel like they've GOT to do awesome scenework (thereby intimidating newer players), and the audience won't feel like they had just ended up seeing what I like to call "Masturbation-stro." The director is there, for the cast and audience, to hold them by the hand and say "Whoa-ho. relax. We're gonna get through this. And it'll be great."

So yeah, someone should know that they are directing maybe two weeks beforehand, and they should see the Maestros in the weeks before their own, and they should craft a sweet, non-repetitive game set. I mean, if you're REALLY that worried about Maestro, that is.
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Postby Aden » March 11th, 2008, 4:20 pm

Maybe I should clarify. My great hope is that imps are doing lots of work on their skillz outside of show time. In show time I want to be able to let go of the work, quit thinking and start playing. Isn't improv about getting out of your head after all?

To me the show is the reward, where I get to stop concentrating on my technique, and instead listen to the funny things coming out of people's bodies and faces, and try to find a way to add to that.
And that's the whole point. Isn't it?
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Postby sara farr » March 11th, 2008, 4:23 pm

I like the idea of a run with a consistant ensemble:
- director(s)
- core players (keeping a few player slots open for drop-ins)
- tech imps
[- host/scorekeeper]

PLAYING as an ensemble provides an opportunity to:
- build a safe space to take risks
- enhance the theatricality (presentation & shape) of the show
- give ensemble quick & meaningful notes (which results in better scenework/show production value)
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Postby Jeff » March 11th, 2008, 4:33 pm

Last edited by Jeff on October 24th, 2011, 1:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby kbadr » March 11th, 2008, 4:33 pm

I think it's been generally going well. We just need to make a better effort to have the cast and directors decided earlier.

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Postby LuBu McJohnson » March 11th, 2008, 4:35 pm

Aden wrote:Maybe I should clarify. My great hope is that imps are doing lots of work on their skillz outside of show time. In show time I want to be able to let go of the work, quit thinking and start playing. Isn't improv about getting out of your head after all?

Oops, I might have misrepresented what you said. I just mean to say that in a show like Maestro, where you are throwing in with a bunch of people you aren't used to playing with, you're gonna have a hard time if you are worried about the work.
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