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Remembering Samantha

Today we’re remembering Samantha Pereira. Samantha was a HUGE teacher, performer, director who passed away in December 2015. If you never had the good fortune to meet her, you can read about her here in the Star Tribune.

It seems impossible that almost two years have gone by. At HUGE Theater, we feel Samantha’s absence powerfully, especially the first Sunday of every new class session or when we glance up at Samantha’s photo on our theater wall. One of our classrooms is dedicated to Samantha with a plaque we thought she’d find most fitting: The Improv Jedi Training Center.

This year HUGE Theater is making a donation to Puerto Rico hurricane relief in Samantha’s honor.

Improvathon Gubby & ErikLove for Samantha expresses itself in lots of ways. Her former students, Erik Nielsen and Gubby Kubik (pictured here, during Improvathon), have honored her for two years in a row by dedicating their Iron Audience participation to Samantha, who herself was an Iron Audience participant, which requires staying awake and watching 28-hours of improv as part of HUGE’s annual Improvathon fundraising event. Samantha is pictured on the left, in 2014. She not only completed 28-hours of watching improv, but was the group’s cheerleader and champion.

LivBoth Gubby and another former student, Liv Augusta Anderson — pictured here with her tattoo and class certificate inspiration — have gotten a tattoo inspired by Samantha. As Liv says, the tattoo has brought “a bit of Samantha to my arm. It doesn’t make me miss her any less, but it’s nice to literally put my heart on my sleeve.”

 

(As I type this, I realize that all three of these former students of Samantha have become improv teachers now. I can’t help but think Samantha would be proud.)

Samantha Pereira Scholars
Samantha had a special interest in making improv available to everyone. Each semester since her loss, we have named a Samantha Pereira Scholar: someone who is a scholarship recipient of exceptional merit. The following people are just the sort of students Samantha would have cherished.

Winter 2016 – Allison Dahlberg
Spring 2016 – William Sobolwski
Fall 2016 – Shauna Madison
Winter 2017 – Mawrgyn Roper
Spring 2017 – Jada Pulley
Fall 2017 – Mairead Koehler

Improvathon 17 Official Results and Winners

[ you always hope – you never know ] 

Beginning on Wednesday November 15th and running until just after midnight Thursday, November 16th – a 28 hour block of time lovingly known IMPROVATHON – HUGE Theater held our annual improv marathon to raise money on Give To The Max Day 2017.

This is a crucial day for HUGE Theater – it is a wonderful event that features not only 28 hours of performances but also an amazing chance to connect with the community as we all spend time in (or passing through) the same space and telling everyone we can collectively reach what this place and this art form mean to us.
Thanks are not enough to convey the love and joy that go into – and come out of –  these crazy hours, but I will give it a shot.

Our amazing Iron Audience were in the seats the entire time and there were more than a few surprises along the way – You really did have to be there.


[ the nights are dark – the money’s green ] 

The SPONSORS!

Once again we thank Common Roots Catering and Steamship Coffee for all of the caffeinated liquid support they sent our way – there are few things as important to being awake and energetic and upright and on stage for 28 hours as caffeine. Please help us thank them!

commonrootscatering  website_header

[ shut your eyes and shudder at the laughter and the screams ] 

The WINNERS!

The Improvathon is more than a giant love-fest – it’s also a competitive love-fest!
The groups performing and Iron Audience watching are all fundraising to support HUGE and we are excited to announce that the fund-raising-est groups were:

1. SIXPLEX
2. SUPER GOOD
3. SQUASH BANANA

The top Iron Audience fundraisers were:

1. SHEA ROBERTS GYLLEN
2. ANONYMOUS (we know who you are)
3. MARY KANE

Thank you to everyone that helped, volunteered, posted, tweeted, watched, ushered, cleaned, brewed more coffee, staffed the box office, took photos, performed and made us weep with joy.


[ hit the lights and shield your eyes ] 

The RESULTS!

If you aren’t familiar already, Give To the Max Day is THE fundraising day of the year for HUGE as it is a focused day of charitable giving across Minnesota made possible by GiveMN. This year GiveMN helped raise more than twenty million dollars for non-profits across our state!

HUGE focuses all our energy and efforts on this day – and this year we aimed even higher with a goal of $75,000 – which we did not hit but I am so proud that we went for – it was less than a decade ago when having a theater for improv was a crazy dream and asking people to give to this cause felt impossible.
But nobody has as much fun doing the impossible as we do.

The numbers are in from our box office and our official GiveMN.org tally is $53,817  – which includes one “Golden Ticket” prize of $1,000 from GiveMN as well as an additional $4,000 for taking 2nd place in the Intermediate division (Gilda’s Club earned the top spot – what an amazing org to be on the leaderboard with!) along with 1107 online donations from ALL FIFTY STATES (and many provinces) as well as the in-person donations brought our GTMD total to…

$62,588! 


[ on the fringes of the scene – still getting used to the dream ] 

The hard part…

Trying to get this post written is always challenging – it takes many days for our brains to start working and words to start having meaning again – but trying to wrap it up is just impossible. The screen gets all blurry and my keyboard keeps getting all wet.

Strange as it feels to keep moving these words forward, year after year – they are still true, forever and always – so I will keep repeating them:

“This place is important because of the people you will find here.
Some of the most generous, dedicated, wonderful, funny and talented people I have ever met in my life and it is my profound privilege to know.”

I am so proud to be part of this place.
A changing part of an ever-changing place, as I got to (finally) announce that this is my last Improvathon as the President of our Board of Directors – as of January 2018 the gavel is handed to the amazing Adia Morris-Swanger !

I am so proud of the work we do here and the difference it makes in between (as well as during) the times that we have to play together here – as a community that is maturing and growing and learning and sometimes leading the way for others in our art form.
I am so proud that I can serve this place that serves this community – It has been my greatest joy and most humbling experience – and I could not be more grateful for everyone that has been moved to support it.
My thanks will never feel like enough so I lean on the words of others.

“Find the others.
Find the people in the same place as you who want to build the same things.
Ask them what they’re interested in, ask them what they’re making, and ask them if you can help.
Put it together….
…Start talking. Start building it. Make it calmly, and make it complex and inclusive.
Make it real. Make it human. Make it weird and wonderful.
No more circuses. Make Future Everything.”     – Warren Ellis

 

Thank you all – I am luckiest because I get to build this with you.

Butch Roy

Executive Director of HUGE Theater and Humble Servant

 

Throwback Night 2018 Casts Announced

We are extremely excited to announce the cast of the upcoming season of our annual Throwback Night shows – thank you all to those who auditioned!

Close Quarters – directed by Lauren Anderson and Nels Lennes

Chris Barth
Craig Corsi
Erik Hoversten
Erik Nielsen
Keren Gudeman
Michael Rogers
Pamela Mazzone
Ryan Vanasse
Sam Beeson
Shannon Foy

La Ronde – directed by Michael Ritchie

Abe VanderBent
Adam Mellerup
Alicia Wheelock
Becci Schmidt
John Eisenrich
Marty Wessels
Michael Weingartner
Tommy Caravello
Zoa Dru

The Living Room – directed by Jill Bernard

Aaron Cook
Cody Madison
Danielle Heinert
Kevin Albertson
Kya Fischer
Lucas Hines
Matt Axelson
Matt Slater
Michael DallaValle
Richard Ralston
Sandra Struthers
Valerie Hurst
Vanessa Tu

Throwback Night casts begin working in October and the show opens January 5th!

New ticket pricing and options!

Dear friends of HUGE Theater,
Starting Friday, November 3, weekend ticket prices and purchase options are changing.

Winter Ticket Pricing :: Fridays and Saturdays

8:00pm: $10 online / $12 at the door
9:30pm: $10 online / $12 at the door
10:30pm: $8 online / $8 at the door

Flex Pass: $18 for any 2 shows on the same night
All Night Pass: $24 for all 3 shows on the same night

Audiences can purchase tickets for one, two or all three shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
The 8pm/9:30pm show tickets are no longer bundled together.

We are making this change and adjusting our ticket pricing seasonally to meet two realities:
1) Customers have consistently been confused by the combined 8pm/9:30pm ticket model.
2) Our audiences and programming are seasonal.

We originally set up to our 8/9:30pm combined ticket model to encourage audiences to stick around and sample improv. This was essential nearly seven years ago, when HUGE opened and longform improv was very new to the general public. Now we’re finding new audiences express much more confusion about our ticketing than our programming.

We recognize that theater attendance is seasonal and that we attract different audiences at different times of year. Our programming reflects this — we roll out new programming every two months or so — but our pricing model hasn’t caught up. Rather than treat winter the same as summer, we are treating the seasons, well, seasonally. Our goal is to make sure, no matter what the season, our ticket prices are affordable and as clear as possible.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re a longtime friend and audience member at HUGE. Thank you! Many of you have become accustomed to seeing multiple shows, and we hope this change won’t keep you from being able to join us. We’ve had you in mind in designing the Flex Pass (any two shows) and the All Night Pass (all three shows).

We recognize our new winter pricing isn’t as inexpensive and convenient for our
long-time audiences.  To be honest, we’ll miss the wooden nickels and the ease of having audiences stick around between shows. At the same time, we won’t miss giving lengthy ticketing explanations online, at the box office and from the stage.
We’re also excited that the 9:30pm shows won’t have to encourage their audiences to come to the theater in hopes that enough audience turns in their wooden nickels from the 8pm show for new 9:30pm audience to get a seat.

Going forward, we’re going to adjust our pricing seasonally, to best meet the needs of audiences and performers. We appreciate that you’ve stuck with us so far, and hope you’ll continue to support HUGE.
We don’t do anything without considering how it affects our community, and we want you to know we truly welcome your feedback and, always and forever, appreciate your support.

Notes from the Annual Happy Hour with the Board

Sorry for the delay – you may have heard that things got a little crazy this fall!
There have been updates in some of these areas – especially programming for 2018 – but for the sake of clarity (and getting it posted) the information here is what was presented in August.


HUGE Happy Hour Meeting Notes :  August 17, 2017

Budgets and Operations – Molly Chase – Click on slides to see full size


Education – Jill Bernard
We may keep enrollment between 200-250 students per term going forward
We always have a waitlist and could add more classes, but we don’t have another space.
Also want students to have an excellent student experience and that gets harder to provide if we’re pushing our limits too much.

The 401 class has been redesigned. It was on the topic of Forms and now it is Ensemble Building. It is designed to answer questions that people had – e.g. What’s the best practice, how do you meet fellow players, and what kind of group should you have?

Jill is working on a new level between 201 and 301 to address the problem of steamrollers/not as generous improvisers who are too many scenes in a row, not listening to their scene partners, etc. Jill originally wrote the curriculum with shy people in mind.

Teen program ran classes and summer camp this year. We announced that we’re not continuing the teen program. Our mission statement is aimed at student and professional improvisers, and we can’t be all things to all people. Teen students might find a creative home at Stepping Stone and Brave New Institute or other great orgs.

Women –Trans – Femme – adding a second class taught by Hannah Wydeven for intermediate and advanced students. Very excited for this program to be expanding.

This year Jill introduced an expanded summer intensive – strengthened the weekday portion.

Scholarships

11% this year – We budget for up to 15%. Scholarships are based on financial need and artistic interest/potential.

We reserve a couple spots in each 101 class for scholarship students – so while we have openings for up to 18 people, we sell only up to 16 spots.

TCIF scholarships were an example of pay it forward – We say how many people need scholarships and people stepped up to fund them. We had more than double the number as previous years– 21 TCIF scholarships this year.

Word of mouth is overwhelmingly the reason that people sign up for classes


Diversity and Inclusion update – John Gebretatose

John went to a Toronto Improv Festival and met three Directors of Diversity and Inclusion from various improv theaters around North America. He wrote a proposal for HUGE and was hired.
He started work in November 2016 on a contract basis

John’s strategy was to go to artists in different art categories and to see if he could bring them in to HUGE for improv. Brought word of mouth and validity to improv.

Funding
John currently earns $300/month stipend, plus additional hourly pay during TCIF as a contractor. Molly is looking into grants to find more funds to support this work. Robin noted she’s doing some grant prospecting and will keep an eye out for a potential fit for HUGE.

Programming
Part of John’s work has been to not only get the word out about auditions and performance/learning opportunities, but to provide prep work and support for auditions. An example is this year’s ComedySportz auditions. John led the way on making sure POC performers felt ready for the auditions, and attended/joined the auditions to provide extra support.

Examples of additional programming include:
Coaching sessions with groups
Facebook group for people of color
POC-only workshops
Greg Parks recently taught a POC-only workshop, for which there is growing demand, since jams are a great start but participants expressed wanting to get more instruction.

Monthly POC jams have been an effective way for people of color to try improv.
Noted that greater clarification could be useful in terms of whether it is both performers and audience that need to be people of color to attend. (It is both – John updated the site yesterday to clarify.)

John is doing a lot of work cultivating relationships and encouraging participation. His work is inspiring others to do similar types of work. Since the POC jams started in Nov/Dec of 2016, other jams have been started:
Queer Jam – independently run and promoted by student and improviser Craig Corsi
Worn Treads – independently produced by a small group of improvisers. The jam is for people aged 40 and older. It is primarily for people who started improv later in life and have a different experience and family obligations than their student peers who are in their 20s and early 30s.

Progress in auditions:

  • Going forward:
    Working with Jill on scholarship program.
    Reviving Islamic Sisterhood workshop – Taj Ruler is going to teach.
    2nd ever Our Cities Our Stages event planned for October
    Brunches and/or field trips
    POC Showcases coming soon
    Working with Butch and HUGE to find ways to add more POCs in the staff.
    3rd-annual Black and Funny Festival in February 2018

Meanwhile, we continue to work on building relationships in larger arts community, e.g. Jill taught a workshop to the New Native Theater last summer and to teachers from MU Collective.


Artistic Update – Nels Lennes

Throwback program  – This program casts 3 teams (8-11 people each), so gives about 30 people a chance at 8 weeks of performance.  Throwback Night will run in January/February 2018.
This year, HUGE is discontinuing the second stage of the program – the “Throwgram” program in previous years – in which each team would have a second 8-week run of a new form they create based on their Throwback Night form.
HUGE shows and independent proposed shows will fill the Friday 8pm slots at are opened up – By discontinuing this part of the Throwback program, HUGE opens up 6 months on the calendar. An additional benefit is that having that much stage time for the 30-person cast helped further the impression that you see the same people on stage all the time.

Returning shows –  Many options have been discussed, the schedule is still taking shape and is always very fluid – potentially Family Funeral (which is complementary to Family Dinner)
Unique shows confirmed include Troubadour and Attenborough. These unique shows are essential for the improv community because they clearly represent an expression of improv not otherwise seen –  we don’t want to narrow focus. We want the community to learn, grow, and create the next amazing new thing – not just what they already see on stage and think is a successful format to copy or adapt to secure a run of shows.

The show calendar is programmed through the end of 2017 with confirmation that The Other Jeanie Retelle and Painters will be performing late Saturday nights in November/December – and some of 2018 has already taken shape.
HUGE shows Off Book and Kabaam are slated to return in 2018 so far

Directors and Assistant Directors – Taking a page from the TA and teaching the teachers initiative, Nels and Butch are using a similar template for directors in building up the assistant director program – every show HUGE has produced over the past year has included an Assistant Director position and we hope to transition several HUGE shows over to new direction with Nels in a more of a supper/oversight role in the coming year to keep that progress moving.

Another encouraging sign of growth: more auditions for upcoming shows – HUGE announced last year that auditions would be held for every HUGE production and not only did that result in changing casts for all HUGE shows, we have been seeing more independent show are having auditions.
Changing the way shows are created and cast – in the past shows have almost always come to us fully cast with/by the people that created it – this shift means more opportunities for more artists and a clearer path to the stage.


Q & A

What is max possible ticket sales for a month?
If we sold out every single show, with no days off, we would earn $291,200.

How does TCIF compare to previous festivals?
It was well-attended but we suffered some pretty serious setbacks and losses due to losing a major headliner after the lineup had been announced and workshop schedules had already been crafted and contracted around a group that could not come.

Is HUGE going to work to find ways to add more POCs in the staff?
Yes, this is in-progress – The primary focus has been on artistic opportunity, since that is our mission, and we don’t want to detour someone that is on their way to be on our stage to put them behind the bar. We’ve started cross training when possible and hiring more staff when able.

Question: Will there be pods coming up?
Yes! For example, Jill Bernard has a pod on stage picture coming up this fall!

 

 

Rated G Auditions

Rated-G, the Improvised Family-Friendly Musical is holding auditions for our upcoming run in March and April. The show combines singing, dancing, and storytelling to create a fun musical romp for all ages, much like the animated classics of our childhood.
**Improvisers must be comfortable with improvised singing and performing family friendly improv.**Directed by: Doug Neithercott
Music by: John Hilsen
Production Team: Erin Kennedy, Aaron Cook, and Nathan Kelly Rouse**Those interested in being cast must be available for at least 7 of the 8 rehearsal days listed.
All rehearsals will be from 11-1pm, every Saturday in January and February.**
The show’s run will be Saturdays at 6:30pm in March and April

Auditions are in half hour increments:
Saturday 11/11 (HUGE Theater)
Sunday 11/12 (CSz Theater)

Any questions? You can contact Erin: ekny2001@gmail.com

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

PARTY RIOT cast announced

Note from Sally Foster, PARTY RIOT’s producer:

Thank you to all who auditioned yesterday for PARTY RIOT! Having so many incredible, badass, talented women all in the same room was incredible, and we’ve personally never felt so empowered to create art in this community. We hope you felt the same!

Unfortunately, as with any show, there were more amazing auditions than there were spots in the show. This casting was particularly difficult because we saw almost 70 talented women and had around 25 spots in the show maximum. If you weren’t cast, please don’t give up – reach out to those you improvised with in auditions and start a group for Improv-a-Go-Go! Our community needs more women like you on our stages.

With all that said, here is our PARTY RIOT 2017/2018 cast list:

Shannon Foy
Jennifer Adriene Burks
Mackenzi Brophy
Jill Bernard
Cicely Robin Laing
Mawrgyn Roper
Anna Tobin
Erin Sheppard
Vann Daley
Lizzie Gardner
Carolyn Blomberg
Shea Roberts
Erin Kennedy
Liz Council
Molly Chase
Laura Hild
Susannah Eckberg
Jada Pulley
Jen van Kaam
Zoa Dru
Sarah Turner
Andrea Ravich
Jen Scott

Everyone who auditioned should have received an email regarding the casting decision this morning by 10:30am

Sally Foster

Family Dinner 2017 Cast Announced

What an extraordinary showing, Twin Cities. Way to go.
We easily could have cast this show 3 times over with what you all brought and it was extremely difficult to narrow down.   Thank you for everyone’s courage and talent.

We are excited to welcome to the table this year:

Adam Iverson
Alexis Camille
Anna Tobin
Butch Roy
Dane Stauffer
Ellen Jaquette
Ellie Hino
Emily Townswick
Erin Sheppard
Jake Scott
Jen Scott
Justin Betancourt
Katy Kessler
Matt Prindle
Mike Fotis
MJ Marsh
Sam Baker Harris
Sam Landman
Seniz Yargici Lennes
Tom Winner
Vann Daley

Step NEXT : Getting to know the unknowns

STEP THREE:  Feedback at our Community Forum affirmed that HUGE is needed and that our community is unequivocal in rejecting white supremacy.  To that end, we held an emergency board meeting on Wednesday, September 13, and resolved the following:

We are committed that HUGE must stay open and continue to serve our community.

We’re committed to ending our current tenancy through purchase or relocation by the end of our lease – August 31, 2023, or sooner if possible. We are considering all options, including attempting to purchase the building. It is also possible our landlord will sell the building to someone else.

We know firsthand the complexity of the task at hand and we will not put the legacy of HUGE at risk by being hasty. We have an imperative to do the research that positions HUGE for a sustainable next chapter. We are meeting with experts in a variety of fields and putting in the work to determine our options.

We are committed to helping our staff and community grow stronger so we can all be ready for the hard work ahead. Staff members are attending restorative justice training this month and HUGE is adding trauma-informed instruction training for our teachers this winter.

NEXT STEPS: We will continue to post updates as we learn more.
We are grateful for this amazing community and we appreciate your kind words and offers of support. There is no doubt we will need it.

Throwback Night Auditions – Full Schedule

If you cannot make your scheduled time, please email breanna@hugetheater.com to let us know right away – please plan on arriving 15 minutes prior to your audition to check in and warm up with your group.


Monday – October 2nd – Evening Schedule

5:00 PM 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 6:30 PM
Jonathan Brown Brooke Fanning Andy Christian Lucas Hines
John bickford Erik Ostrom Timothy Eberle Peter P
Tommy Caravello Jamie Bonczyk Josh Krauskopf
Michael DallaValle
Ally Rae Anna Marie Schmidt Heather Hemmer Jay Kistler
Vann Daley Matt Judkins Jada Pulley Eric Brown
Lilly Rotter Jessabelle Olmstead Pamela Mazzone Shannon Foy
Sandra Struthers Ava Wichmann Susannah Eckberg Shea Roberts

Saturday – October 7th – Morning Schedule

10:00 AM 10:30 AM 11:00 AM 11:30 AM
Michael Deneen Christian Unser Katie novak Gabby Avond
Monique Dargis Joe McGowan Douglas Cox Shelby Schroeder
Ben Wagner Ryan Vanasse Heather Baldwin Kim Lambert
Cody Madison Adam Boutz Kate Zabinski Madhu Bangalore
Mawrgyn Roper Kyle Decker Jeff Kaisershot Abe vanderBent
Lauren Schaeffer Max Beyer John Eisenrich Ava Fojtik
Blake Thielmann  Vanessa Tu Clayton Anderson  Sarah Maxwell

Saturday – October 7th – Afternoon Schedule

12:00 PM 12:30 PM 1:00 PM 2:00 PM
Amy Zajack Matt Arriola Mary Ruebel Mike McCarron
Michael Weingartner Gavin Nachtigall Keren Gudeman
Justin Betancourt
Catherine Thimmesh Joseph Schifsky Hannah Fiedler Issabelle Allen
Kyle B Dekker Wells Farnham Erik Nielsen Chris Ragnacci
Michael Bloom Kevin Macklin Frank Kohlasch Jen Paulson
Philip Skretvedt Eric Geistfeld Eric Heiberg Jesse Burrows

 

3:00 PM 4:00 PM 4:30 PM 5:00 PM 5:30 PM
Edd Jones Lauren Chesnut Phillip Schramm Derek Landseidel Erica Solomon
Richard Hammons Ryan Klima Kristen Marks Matt Selchow Breanna Cecile
Valerie Hurst Bryce Kalal Lars Midthun Richard Ralston Michael Renner
Carlyn Lindstrom Danny Sussman Madeline Spott  Aiden Milligan Daniel Schwartz
Kevin Albertson Seniz Lennes Matt Axelson Emily Townswick
Jeff Roberts Gyllen
Becky Hauser Ryan Blix Sam Beeson Brynn Berryhill Abigail Sugahara
 Michael Rogers

 


Sunday – October 8th – Evening Schedule

5:00 PM 5:30 PM 6:00 PM 6:30 PM
Matt Tatone Pam Franklin Adam Mellerup Craig Corsi
Mark Jelinek Elisabeth Groebel Nathan Kelly
Kristin Turnblom
Erik Hoversten Tyler Martindale Marty Wessels Nikki Vroman
Danielle Heinert Mike Hanson Becci Schmidt Alicia Wheelock
Cicely Laing Bradley Machov Tom Schmidt Zoa Dru
Chris Barth Matt Slater Kya Fischer Aaron Cook
Meredith Jacobs Trevor Charon
Casey MacCallum