Blog

Anniversaries, both happy and sad

photo by Sally Foster

December will always remind us of when the theater first opened, but it will also always be the anniversary of when beloved HUGE teacher, performer and director Samantha Pereira passed away.

We remember you, dear friend, on this day of your passing and this month of your birth. It has been three years and we miss you every day. 











HUGE announces new Managing Director

HUGE Improv Theater Names Sean Dillon As New Managing Director

Sean’s involvement with HUGE began with the first Throwback Night in 2012, and since that time, he has gone on to perform with a variety of groups and shows here, including The Score, Yes Anderson, The Away Team, Nimblicity, Neutrino, Dilly Dally, and others. He has taught at HUGE for the past five years, co-directs the show Off-Book, and served as the theater’s volunteer Accessibility Coordinator since 2015.

Outside of improv, Sean is a stage and film actor, writer, and director, the founder of horror theater company Oncoming Productions, and a wildly improbable hand model. In the past, he has worked for arts non-profits Springboard for the Arts and the Stella Adler Studio, and has worked most recently as a Disability Services Advisor at Capella University.

“I am so excited for Sean to come aboard in an official capacity – he’s always been such a proactive and positive member of the community, in many ways he’s already a leader so having him part of our artist-led company only makes perfect sense,” said Butch Roy, Executive Director of HUGE Improv Theater.

Dillon will begin as Managing Director in mid-November, just in time for HUGE’s Improvathon on November 15. Previously this position was held by Molly Chase, who did noble service since March 2011 as HUGE’s first managing director.

Throwback Auditions open now!

Use this form to request an audition for and/all of the following groups:
The Harold – Directed by Lauren Anderson & Lizzie Gardner
Rehearsals :: Sundays 10am-Noon (First 3 rehearsals at location other than HUGE)Armando – Directed by Jill Bernard; Assistant Director – Liz Council
Rehearsals :: Saturdays 2-4pClose Quarters – Directed by Hannah Wydeven; Assistant Director – Alexis Camille
Rehearsals :: Saturdays 12-2p
AUDITION TIMES will be scheduled:
Saturday 10/13 from 10am-5pm
Monday 10/15 from 4pm-7pm
Options will be removed as time slots fillPERFORMANCES
Throwback Night will run Fridays at 8pm in January and February at HUGE Theater

REHEARSALS
Please check to make sure you are able to make the scheduled rehearsal times for the show(s) you would like to audition for – rehearsals will run 8-10 weeks (approximately end October-early Jan with breaks for the holidays), cast are expected to miss no more than 2 rehearsals.
The Harold -Sundays 10am-Noon, late Oct – early Jan
Armando – Saturdays 2-4p, late Oct-early Jan
Close Quarters – Saturdays 12-2p, late Oct-early Jan

If you don’t see the form below please CLICK HERE

We want to see you all of you there. Yeah, even you. And you! And also you.

 

Systems new and old

Some Updates, some new News and some old News you may not have known!

One of the strange upsides to big internal changes – like bringing our new Artistic Director on board and up to speed – is having to explain our systems and what they’re meant to do.

It gives us a rare chance to stop and look at many of the systems we’ve put in place over the years, take a really good look at how we do things and ask ourselves if they still make sense or if there’s a better way to handle show proposals, communicating with artists, the flow of information to producers and more.

We also uncovered some areas where we’ve put systems and internal policies in place that aren’t flashy or newsworthy on their own, but artists (or other theater companies – some of whom ask to use our policies as a template) might like to know about!

One of the most immediate changes is whom to contact about things!

THEN:  Butch had been a frequent point of contact for artistic matters only because he is one of the only full time staff and is always online to field questions more quickly.

NOW:  Rita is the person to contact about all artistic matters –  show proposal questions, auditions, ideas you would like to discuss, changes to your show proposal or upcoming run of shows – Basically, if it appears on stage or is part of getting your idea ready for the stage : Rita.

Butch will still head up logistics questions and production support – things that require revisions to the website, about staffing or technical needs for your shows – Basically, the building, staff, website, ticketing system or all the invisible bits of production support would go to Butch.

If you’re still not sure where to send your question, idea, concern, etc – please feel free to email both Rita and Butch and we can help!  
Always feel free to ask

Rita@hugetheater.com  – and / or – Butch@hugetheater.com

Show Proposal changes

As Rita posted recently – the Show Proposal system has changed!
THEN:  The show proposal form stayed open at all times to capture the fully-formed pitches for productions looking for a stage, crazy new ideas that might need some help to bring to life and everything between – which created a constant backlog and left lots of people waiting and we sometimes ended up following up on ideas that people had moved on from, forgotten about or from groups that no longer existed.

NOW:  The form will open twice per year to cover the upcoming “season” with enough time to get shows booked and confirmed, schedule auditions (if needed) and make sure artists and HUGE have enough time to properly promote upcoming shows
Every proposal will get a confirmation email from Rita and the seasonal schedules will be posted when they are booked and confirmed – shows will need to re-submit each season they would like to be considered, which will give HUGE a clear idea of which shows are active and ready for the season ahead and give producers and artists a clear, timely answer so they aren’t left waiting on HUGE when they could be looking at other venues or opportunities.

:: One system that we’ve had in place for years is designed to manage conflicts of interest and avoid nepotism in our pipeline process, being an artist-led company we knew this would be an issue early on –  which is why no member of the HUGE management is allowed to book their own groups or shows for our stage. Those productions must be approved independently by another member of the management team.

This policy remains in place and extends to shows by/featuring any performer currently or previously in a relationship with HUGE staff – to make sure our process is serving our community with an even hand as well as protect artists by preventing anyone from being able to extend or withhold consideration inappropriately  ::

Info to/from producers and casts

This is an area that many people may not know about as well as something we’re working to expand – As part of our efforts to make sure we’re hearing from the artists we serve about their experiences at HUGE, we’ve had a policy of asking for feedback from shows.

:: we ALWAYS encourage everyone to reach out and contact us if there is a concern, question or something that just doesn’t feel right – please – at any time, using whichever channel you feel most comfortable using ::

THEN: After the close of a show, Breanna would send a Google Form to the director/producer/point of contact for the show and/or Facebook group about the run of the show – those answers would be collected and shared with the Artistic Director and Executive Director and show directors.

NOW:  We now ask for names and emails for all cast members so we can send the feedback form directly to cast and follow up directly if needed.
We’ve also added another round of feedback to HUGE productions (and are trying to find a good way to coordinate with outside productions as well) in an effort to hear concerns sooner so we can have conversations and make adjustments while the show is open rather than waiting until it is too late to hear about things that could’ve been addressed – that will be collected toward the end of the rehearsal process so we can hear about rehearsals and how the cast is feeling heading into opening of a run and then again at the close of the show.

All the feedback is seen by the Artistic Director and Executive Director – feedback that is meant for the Directors will be compiled and shared with them via email and/or in person to ask any follow up questions to help us all improve the process and experience of performing, producing, directing and being directed at HUGE.

Reporting from Directors: We’ve added language to make sure directors are letting HUGE know about issues within their casts, even if matters are discussed and handled to the satisfaction of everyone involved.
Every complaint from a cast member about another cast member, regardless of severity or outcome, must be documented with theater management.
We are looking for patterns of behavior across shows and over time.

Auditions and Casting

One of the most sensitive areas there is – also one we’ve quietly made some changes and put systems in place and continue to look at for ways to make the experience more welcoming, rewarding and transparent.
The biggest changes over the past years have been focused on inclusion. We have been making sure (as best we can based on scheduling needs) the auditioning groups are more diverse by making sure no one is ever “the only” in an audition group, i.e. the only female-identified performer in a group of men, or the only person of color with a group of white performers.

Likewise, the expansion of the audition panel to make sure we have a variety of eyes and ears and voices included in the process of casting – In addition to increasing representation among the decision-making in an audition process, we hope this increases the chances that an auditioner will see someone who looks like them “behind the table” in theater jargon.

We hope this representation means there will be someone in authority to help recognize and call out problematic situations that come up in audition scenes, in hopes of removing the burden from the auditioned.

:: Our conflict of interest policy explicitly covers auditions as well – not only are HUGE staff  prohibited from making casting decisions about someone that is a conflict of interest, they will not be present for those auditions – this has been the case for some time and has worked invisibly and silently as audition rosters list conflicts and staff members remove themselves from the audition space for the duration without any action required from the person auditioning ::

Producer Info Packets

Some smaller things that we hope will get info to the right eyeballs is the revision of show info and creation of a central place to find it – from our Show Guidelines to HUGE’s current payment model for shows to image specs for both HUGE and social media – this is where the information will live and will be updated.
If you visit the HUGE Performer Pages – the top button on the right will direct you to this information – as does the newly-revised “Your Show Is Booked” packet that is emailed to every show when they are booked and confirmed.

Thanks for reading
– Butch

2018 Family Dinner Cast Announced

I know directors always say this, but seriously, I was astonished by the auditions this year. Not only by the sheer number of people that showed up, but by what everyone left out on that stage. It was an excruciating decision to narrow it down to this small list but even with that, I was so heartened by this process. Eeep, we’re a lucky town.

Don’t let this be anyone’s last audition. You are great.

Here is the 2018 Family Dinner cast:

  1. Alexis Camille
  2. Anna Tobin
  3. Ellie Hino
  4. Emily Townswick
  5. George Keller
  6. Janay Henry
  7. Jen Scott
  8. Justin Betancourt
  9. Katy Kessler
  10. Lizzie Gardner
  11. Maureen Tubbs
  12. Michael Renner
  13. Michael Rogers
  14. Mike Fotis
  15. MJ Marsh
  16. Sam Baker Harris
  17. Sam Landman
  18. Seniz Yargici Lennes
  19. Siri Hellerman
  20. Tom Winner

 

*Family Dinner is an M Ritchie Production

New Show Proposal Process

Ok! So to keep a fresh and current cycle of show proposals going, we’re going to try to open the form only twice a year for a limited amount of time.

We schedule most shows 3-8 months out, (though we hold a few programming slots open to have greater flexibility to schedule 1-3 months out).
To start this experiment, we are going to:
– open the Show Proposal Form now and keep it open for two months.
– open it again March 1st for one month.
– Moving forward we will open the form on September 1st and March 1st, to accommodate for each half of the year.
We’re leaving it open a little longer this first time to get adjusted.

We want to encourage performers to re-submit each cycle if it is still a current group or if it is still an idea you are passionate about.
You will receive notification once your Proposal is reviewed and you will be notified, one way or another, if your show will be included in the next scheduling cycle. If it is not, try again!
We’re excited about your ideas and want to make sure you stay excited about them too.
Let us have it!

Improvathon 2018 Announcements and FAQ

Improvisers at HUGE Improv Theater are taking the stage — and not giving it back for 28 hours — to raise money for the the non-profit artist-led improvisational theater. It’s a one-of-a-kind fundraising barnstorm that coincides with Give to the Max Day, November 15, an annual event when Minnesotans display their generosity by celebrating and donating to local nonprofits through GiveMN.org.

REGISTRATION
Improv Performance Request: https://hugetheater.formstack.com/forms/iat18
Iron Audience Contender: http://tinyurl.com/iat18IRON

There is an Improvathon Kickoff Meeting at HUGE Theater – October 7th at 6pm – click the image for the Facebook event!

Come ask questions, get more info and meet your fellow contenders as we gear up for GTMD2018!

 

 


SCHEDULE
The Improvathon gets underway on Wednesday night, November 14, starting at 8PM, leading up to the official Give to the Max Day start at midnight on Thursday, November 15.
A succession of more than 125 local improvisers will lead audiences through 28 hours of spontaneous, unrehearsed, improvised theater. The program will end at midnight Nov. 15.

The goal of HUGE’s 28-hour Improvathon is to raise funds for the LynLake-area theater and support improvisational theater in the Twin Cities. In addition to producing 500+ shows a year, HUGE teaches 400+ students annually, and supports the education and career development of performing artists.

Admission is pay-what-you-can, with a suggested minimum donation of $10. HUGE is located at 3037 Lyndale Ave. South near Lake and Lyndale in Minneapolis.


GENERAL FAQ

What is Improvathon?
Improvathon is a 28-hour improv marathon fundraiser benefiting HUGE Improv Theater. It is timed to coincide with GiveMN.org’s Give to the Max Day, an annual statewide day of giving, on Thursday, November 15, 2017.

What is the schedule?
Starts: Wednesday, November 14 at 8:00PM
Ends: Thursday, November 15 at 11:59PM

So that’s it? 28-hours of improv and fundraising?
Basically! But it ends up being much more. It is a chance for the larger community – students, performers and audience — to get together. In years past, the Improvathon has been the impetus for brand new groups to form. It is also an important opportunity for many students and performers to get on stage and show their friends and family – inside and outside the Twin Cities — why improv and HUGE are important to them.

Also, there are amazing people who sign up to be Iron Audience contenders and watch 24-hours of improv. These intrepid souls form the backbone of the audience, especially at 3:30 in the morning, and support performers.

Why does HUGE schedule this to coincide with GiveMN.org’s Give to the Max Day?
Give to the Max Day (GTMD) is an important arts and nonprofit awareness tool that makes a big impact statewide. By participating in GTMD, we are part of a much larger event, and are supporting fellow Minnesota nonprofits.

In addition, HUGE will be eligible to win $1,000 – $10,000 extra dollars based on incentives from GiveMN.
2018 Prizes include
– a $500 Golden Tickets every 10 minutes
– two “Power Hour” challenges – each worth $10,000
– hourly $1000 Golden Tickets
– the final $10,000 Golden Ticket !
Every donation through GiveMN on GTMD is an entry to win those prizes.

What are some easy ways I can participate?

Come watch some shows – Bonus points if you make a donation to HUGE via GiveMN.org at home and then bring a printout to HUGE.

Be an Iron Audience Contender – If you are comfortable with staying up for 24-hours (midnight to midnight), this could be a great option. If not, just come out and watch some shows! A lot of us will be there, and it will be fun. (See Iron Audience FAQ below for more details.)

Volunteer – We’ll need 30 hours of box officers, tech booth operators, help with food, general tidying, massage therapists (?), you name it! A volunteer sign-up sheet will be posted in October.

Encourage people to contribute before they come to the theater – Our goal is to get donors to donate online and bring a printout w/ them to HUGE. It’s faster/easier for them and for the box office.

Offer or find a Matching Grant – GiveMN has piles of research that says projects with Matching Grants receive more donations. A Matching Grant can be as small as $100 to be effective. Contact butch at hugetheater dot com if you’re interested.

Donate! – Back one or more teams of your choosing, don’t be shy.

Spread the word– Word of mouth is incredibly important to HUGE, not only for the Improvathon, but for all our shows. If you haven’t reviewed HUGE on Google, consider doing that.
Sincere, great reviews are among the most valuable gifts you can give.


FAQ FOR IMPROV PERFORMERS

How many performance slots are there, and how do I sign up?
There are approximately 42 timeslots available, about the same as last year.  The link to the form to request a performance time is: https://hugetheater.formstack.com/forms/iat18.

**registration does not guarantee a spot as an Iron Audience or in the schedule as a Performer – though we will do our best to accommodate requests**

Can I be in more than one group that performs?
Of course! We just ask that you consider how thin you are spreading yourself in terms of time and energy, but also your ability to contribute to each groups’ fundraising goals. Also know that there are a lot of improvisers who want to participate, and so try to leave room for others.

Is there a prize?
Yes. The performer/group that raises the most funds will receive a custom coaching session from a special guest, either in March or during Twin Cities Improv Festival in June. In addition, the group will receive their name on the wall, bragging rights, and HUGE hoodies (within reason).

Pro Tip: Finding matching grants for your group are a great strategy if you want to win the top fundraising prize, but also is a great thing for people that want to give before Give to the Max Day. It is a great way to get the word out and start fundraising right away. At present, we don’t have a matching donor set up. You could get one for your own group. Or ask your work if they donate to 501c3 nonprofits like HUGE.

I’m uncomfortable with fundraising, but I want to perform. Can I just sign up for a performance time?
Not really. Improvathon is HUGE’s biggest annual fundraiser. We are asking each performance time to try to raise at least $500. In years past we haven’t specifically asked groups to fundraise as part of this event, but it is very important to sustaining the theater. Part of our hope and vision that Improvathon could raise $100,000 or more for HUGE this year. (It sounds like a lot, but that’s about two month’s operating expenses.)

We will do our best to make fundraising easy for you – and there are a lot of tools to do that, through GiveMN.org’s online donation site and through tips and samples we will provide. Keep in mind, this isn’t about cold calling strangers. You’ll be asking family and friends who know you, and are asking them to support a nonprofit cause that’s personally important to you.

If you are truly uncomfortable asking friends and family to donate, please choose another way to perform at HUGE. Everyone is welcome to Space Jam each week, or to enter the Improv A Go Go lottery, or to take a class and perform in the showcase, or to submit a show idea, or all of the above. And those are just the opportunities at HUGE, there are many more in the Twin Cities. All to say, this is not just a performance slot, it is a chance to financially support a nonprofit theater with a mission to support the improv community.

Cool, I will renew my Membership that day for part of my fundraising goal!
Oh, gosh, you guys. Members and Memberships are ALWAYS very much appreciated but administering this has grown too complex to sustain. Last year we enacted a rule that memberships — while enormously appreciated — will not count toward Improvathon team goals nor will it count toward the final tally of what is raised during Improvathon.


FAQ for IRON AUDIENCE

Every year, around 11-25 people sign up to be Iron Audience contenders, which means they plan to stay awake to watch 24-hours of improv (midnight to midnight).

Does having an Iron Audience really help?
Performers are grateful for the Iron Audience, and the tremendous boost their presence gives. In return, performers work hard to create the best show possible for the audience, even at — or maybe especially at —  3AM. Beyond that, Iron Audience helps HUGE by posting on social media and, of course, and by raising funds.

What does an Iron Audience contender get?

Those who watch 24 hours of improv (midnight to midnight) get their name on HUGE’s wall and a badge, plus an Improvathon T-shirt. Beyond that, HUGE does what it can to make Iron Audience contenders welcome and comfortable.

This year, the Iron Audience contender who raises the most funds will receive a Golden Ticket to HUGE, good for a year of free shows, and a HUGE Theater hoodie. All Iron Audience contenders that complete the 24-hours will get their names on HUGE’s wall, plus a T-shirt and badge.

What are the Iron Audience rules?
The rules are based in the honor system — the idea is to be in the theater watching performances, and no performances can be skipped. Sleeping through shows and/or being absent from the theater are outside of the spirit of the event. That said, people need to take breaks for bathroom and snacks, and may want to step outside under the awning to get some fresh air. It is also possible a person might doze off here and there. All of these things are acceptable.

The Iron Audience portion of the event runs for 24-hours and begins promptly at 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 15. There is a kick-off reception and four hours of improv prior to that (starting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night) that you are of course welcome to attend. But it’s not part of Iron Audience.

What if I change my mind, or get sick, or get called into work?
This is a low-pressure, low-stakes event where your health and peace of mind are top priority. For that reason, we reserve the right to discontinue any person’s participation in Iron Audience, including in concern for health, safety or comfort. If at any point you’re feeling sick and/or just need to take a break or go home, you should! We will never stop being grateful for all you do.

I’m uncomfortable with fundraising, but I want to be an Iron Audience contender.
Can I just show up and stay?

Not exactly. You are certainly free to come to HUGE and watch as much improv as you’d like! To participate as an Iron Audience contender, though, is to participate in an important part of the fundraiser. This portion of the event is arguably the most “a-thon” part of the whole Improvathon. We are asking each Iron Audience contender to sign up by November 5 and to commit to raising at least $100 for HUGE as part of the event. (Registration link is here: http://tinyurl.com/iat2018IRON.)

We will do our best to make fundraising easy for you – and there are a lot of tools to do that, through GiveMN.org’s online donation site and through tips and samples we will provide. Keep in mind, this isn’t about calling strangers. You’ll be asking family and friends who know you, and are asking them to support a nonprofit cause that’s personally important to you.

I don’t see the answer to my question here – who can I contact?
Feel free to send questions to butch at hugetheater dot com.

What were those registration links again?
Improv Performance Request: https://hugetheater.formstack.com/forms/iat18
Iron Audience Contender: http://tinyurl.com/iat18IRON

A brief history of the Throwback forms for 2018

Improv is, by definition, unscripted. The mechanics, devices and aesthetic that help a performance hang together are called the “form”. Every year we celebrate some classic forms from the 80s and 90s as part of our Throwback Night, Fridays at 8pm in January and February.

This year features Close Quarters, the Armando, and the Harold.

Close Quarters debuted at Second City ETC in 1997. Formed by Peter Gwinn and directed by Noah Gregoropoulos. It explores scenes with heightened characters that exist more or less simultaneously in adjacent spaces.

The Armando form grew out of an ImprovOlympic Chicago show that started in 1995. Created by Adam McKay and Dave Koechner and directed by the legendary director/teacher Del Close, the form involves scenes inspired by a monologist, originally improvisor Armando Diaz himself.

The Harold is the original long form, created by The Committee in San Francisco in the 1960s and honed at iO Theater in Chicago in the 1980s as a collaboration between Del Close and Charna Halpern. It weaves together three threads into a single piece.

If you would like to nerd out further, The Improv Resource Wiki has extensive descriptions of many forms here: https://wiki.improvresourcecenter.com/index.php?title=Category:Improv_Forms

A note from the cast of Show X!

Show X was founded in 2010 by Eric Knobel, M Ritchie and Andy Kuhlmann of the legendary improv group Splendid Things. It was an opportunity to bring together improvisors who admired each others’ work but never got to play together, drawn from Brave New Workshop, ComedySportz and the then-itinerant HUGE Theater. The show was on Monday nights to accommodate the schedules of working improvisors. The original cast was Lauren Anderson, Jill Bernard, Fred Beukema, Joe Bozic, Mike Fotis, Eric Knobel, Andy Kuhlmann, Nels Lennes, M Ritchie and Butch Roy.

In the years since, through no fault of our own, the show has been touted as “The Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young” of local improv, “a bona fide supergroup”, an “all-star squad” and “the best of the best”, “venerable” and “impactful”. The show moved from the Bryant Lake Bowl to HUGE Theater when it opened in December 2010. In 2013, Eric Knobel passed over production of the show to HUGE Theater, without noticeable changes to the show format.

As the years went by the cast lineup had to shift. Many of us started families, moved away, or cultivated more demanding careers. We added improvisors who had a combination of many years of experience, solid improv chops, high visibility and great personalities. The current cast includes: Lauren Anderson, Jill Bernard, Rita Boersma, Tim Hellendrung, Katy Kessler, James Rone, Butch Roy, Taj Ruler, Jen Scott and Hannah Wydeven.

The cast of Show X are working professional improvisors, teachers and directors who are on the lookout for improvisors who match the spirit and demands of the show. Once a year the cast makes nominations for new members. Some years we add no one, this year we’ve added four people.

We are pleased to announce our new cast members: Alexis Camille, Gubby Kubik and Heather Meyer will start in October and November and Lupe Muraszewski will be joining us in 2019.

In addition we would like to express gratitude to our Show X Emeritus – performers who are no longer active cast members, but are always part of the Show X family: Joe Bozic, Fred Beukema, Joshua Eakright, Mike Fotis, Dan Hetzel, Andy Hilbrands, Eric Knobel, Andy Kuhlmann, Nels Lennes, Aric McKeown, M Ritchie, and Troy Zimmerman. You may still see them when they drop by to visit.

Show X was born out of a desire for veteran improvisors to come together in a weekly showcase, and it continues as a beacon of improvisational theater. A beacon, in literal terms, is a fire or light set in a highly visible place as a warning, signal, or celebration. The warning we offer is that you might start improvising with your friends in your twenties and find that you never stop. We signal that improvisational theater can be consistently high quality and being “made up” is not an excuse, but rather a strength. And we celebrate the art of being joyful and goofy, while at the same time truthful and compassionate.  We try to provide light on a night when other theaters are dark.

This is your standing invitation. Come join us, any Monday at 8pm, $8, HUGE Theater.