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Big changes at HUGE Theater 

Nels Lennes has announced he has decided to step down as Artistic Director of HUGE Improv Theater to prioritize his family. He will continue to serve on the Board of Directors of HUGE. Nels said, “As a founder of HUGE, I still feel my input and contributions to be valuable, and the responsibilities of a board member would suit me more than both board member and staff.”

We are grateful to Nels’ work as a founder, board member, and Artistic Director of HUGE Theater since its founding in 2009. Nels got his start in Twin Cities improv in 1995, and went on to train at The Groundlings, Annoyance Theater, and The Upright Citizens Brigade before coming back to Minnesota to perform in and direct dozens of shows and train hundreds of improvisors.

HUGE will announce information about a search for the new Artistic Director shortly. Meanwhile, we extend our thanks to Nels for his foundational work and contributions to the Twin Cities improv community.

Twin Cities Improv Festival Workshops!

The Twin Cities Improv Festival is an annual celebration of the best of improvisation. The 2018 festival features workshops from nationally-known instructors on Saturday June 23. Scholarships are available! Please CLICK HERE


PRICES
Individuals: $60 per class
TCIF performers: $50 per class

There are opportunities to study with Tara DeFrancisco and Rance Rizzutto (Here)!
and/or Pepper Barry and Laura Eichorn (Virginia Slims)!
and/or Rich Baker and Rolland Lopez (Rollin’ in Riches)!

TCIF workshops are not suitable for absolute beginners – and all workshops are 18+

Register now – These will sell out. 


SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD:  10-1PM

Improv Rehab with Rance Rizzutto (HERE)

Looking to get out of your head, create richer environments and stay connected to your group while improvising? Every improviser picks up a bad habit or two along their journey. Improv Rehab targets the big ones and keeps the entire group actively participating throughout


SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD:  10-1PM

Play the RiR way! (Rollin’ In Riches) 

Cut-to’s, tag-outs, time dashes…Rollin’ in Riches has these often (but not always!) in their shows! We get asked a lot about it…how do we know when to do it? How do we know WHAT the move is? When one person makes a move, how do we know it’s a new move and how do we know what they’re intending? In this workshop, we teach how we go about doing these things when we play!


SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD:  10-1PM

My Status, My Choice with Tara DeFrancisco (HERE)

“No one can make you inferior without your consent.” Improvisation tells us to say yes to things, but creative yeses help us avoid traps of low-status or being pigeon-holed. You make choices, you don’t have your right to choices made! Let’s laugh and do the unexpected. (Female-identifying and non-binary players encouraged, but all are welcome.)


SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD:  2-5PM

Your Show from the Top Down with Pepper Berry (Virginia Slims)

This unique workshop focuses not just on scene work but on your show as a whole. Your show has a beginning and end so it has structure, it slows down and it speeds up so it has a tempo, it can have an emotional through line or a narrative. There are so many things to do with it other than a mixed bag of random scenes leading to a blackout. Whether you come to this workshop with your teammates or individually we will explore how to make your shows unpredictable to your audience, your teammates and YOU through variety, effective action, character choice and most importantly communication with your teammates through those choices. This ain’t your average workshop. I’ve flipped it on its head so don’t expect to be sitting down half the time, come to play hard!


SATURDAY, JUNE 23RD:  2-5PM

POV: Passion, Originality, Voice. with Laura Eichhorn (Virginia Slims)

Why just BE in the scene when you can LIVE in the scene? It’s all about specificity of POV. Laura delves into what makes your characters tick and will help you get laughs using their honest and unique wants and needs. Learn how to quickly find your character’s point of view and stick the fuck to it.


INSTRUCTOR BIOS

Tara DeFrancisco (Here) was awarded “Funniest Person in Chicago” by the Free Press, “30 Under 30” in the Windy City Times, and “25 Funniest Females 2009” in Curve Magazine for her ventures in stand up, sketch, and improv. She teaches improv courses and workshops to people of all ages and backgrounds across this nation, and that’s about the most rewarding thing ever – traveling to elementary and high schools, colleges, and offices all over the country as both an introductory instructor and a professional Comedy Consultant. Tara has taught for all ComedySportz, iO, and Second City in Chicago, both in-house and on location. Tara is a 3-year veteran of Second City Touring Company, a decorated ComedySportz 3-time MVP, and an iO teacher, coach, house performer, and enthusiast. There are no words for how very thankful she is.

Rance Rizzutto (Here) has performed, coached and taught improv for years. Long-form with iO Chicago (Chaos Theory) and other various independent groups. Short-form with ComedySportz and Second City Theatricals (aboard NCL ships). Musical and hip-hop/rap with The Deltones, Baby Wants Candy, and The Beatbox. Even silent improv in The Silent Treatment. Rance has coached and designed team building and provided services for Intel, Nike, AT&T, Wells Fargo, IBM, Hewlett Packard and more. He’s even done improv all over the world, mostly in Here, a two person musical with Tara DeFrancisco herself! He is also known for his photography, hypnotism, and hosting.


 

Rich Baker (Rollin’ In Riches) has been improvising since May of 1999 and  began teaching in 2005. Since then he has been a faculty member for Second City Chicago, Second City Hollywood, Westside Comedy Theatre, ComedySportz Chicago and The Comedy Shrine.

Rolland Lopex (Rollin’ In Riches) is a student, teacher, player, coach. Short-form enthusiast, long-form lover.
“I didn’t know I was gonna fall in love with this art form but I love the moments that occur when you don’t know what you’re about to do and say.”


 

Laura Eichorn (Virginia Slims) grew up in Portland, Oregon, where she started acting as a wee sprite. She moved to New York at the age of eighteen and got her BFA in acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

In New York, Laura worked as a model, making the cover of two magazines… and over twenty covers of cheesy romance novels. She continued working as a model when she moved to Los Angeles, until she discovered that doing comedy was much more interesting and fun. (Even more fun than posing with a hunky guy while wearing an old timey wedding dress.)

Laura is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and Long Form Program as well as iO West and spends most of her time writing and performing.

Pepper Barry (Virginia Slims)  –  After a brief stint at stand up in Texas, Pepper Berry moved to L.A. to be a screenwriter and then fell into music where he spent 15 years playing in bands around the Los Angeles punk scene, touring the United States and recording albums with either his old band Buck or his current band Bobot Adrenaline.

Being a fan of SCTV he began studying at The Second City Hollywood where he quickly fell in love with improv. He is a graduate of The Second City’s Conservatory and Long form programs, iO West, UCB, The Nerdist, Comedy Sportz, The Second City Directing Program as well as studying at the Groundlings. Besides Virginia Slims, Pepper is a cast member of The Second City Hollywood’s long running The Really Awesome Improv Show as well as a past member of The Second City House Ensemble, the iO Honor Roll team. He has played on iO Harold teams B-Side and (nebraska), and can be seen on the Nerdist House team Aeroplane. He is currently a teacher and director at The Second City Hollywood.

Between the two of them Laura and Pepper are grads of or have studied at The Second City Hollywood, Upright Citizen Brigade, iO West, Comedy Sportz, The Nerdist, and the Groundlings. They are ridiculous improv nerds at heart and available to teach workshops at your festival as well.

 

AUDITION NOTICE: Creature Feature & Ka-Baam!!

We are holding JOINT audition times for two shows coming to HUGE this Fall: Creature Feature and Ka-Baam!

YES – you may absolutely audition for both of the shows listed!

We will collect responses and send audition schedules as quickly as possible – rehearsal and performance schedules are listed below

KaBaam!! the improvised comic book:  
director: MJ Marsh
assistant director: Emily Lindholm

Creature Feature
director: Meghan Wolff
assistant director: TBA


The Details

AUDITION TIMES will be scheduled:
Saturday 6/9 – 10am-6pm
Monday 6/11 – 4pm-7:30pm
Callbacks will be held Friday 6/15 and Saturday 6/17 from 5pm-7pm if needed to see more of your skills.

PERFORMANCES
Creature Feature – Sept/Oct on Fridays at 8pm
KaBaam!! – Sept/Oct on Saturdays at 8pm

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, cast are expected to miss no more than 2 rehearsals.

Creature Feature – Thursdays 7-9pm

Ka-Baam!! – Sundays 6-9pm


CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR AUDITIONS

If you have any questions about auditions or casting – please email Butch@hugetheater.com

 

2018 Hangout Auction Winners

Thank you again the incredible members of the Twin Cities improv community for putting together another amazing Hangout Auction to support our weird little home!

The Hangout Auction Winners:

– Play and drink with outOFcontext!  ::  Craig Corsi
– Dog walking with Kristen Ragnacci!  ::  Jill Bernard
– Learn woodworking with Chad Anderson!  ::  Natalie Little
– Dinner with your parents…and John Gebretatose!  ::  Bree Dalager
– Photos with Adam Iverson!  ::  Andy Christian
– Lunch with Ship Scavengers!  ::  Sean Dillon
– Your own episode of Next at Bat!  ::  Eric Heiberg
Hangout for the Anxious Introvert with Katy Kessler!  ::  Erik Ostrom
– Be the Dally with DillyDallHaus!  ::  Craig Corsi
– Personal Record Store Day with Ian Fish Man!   ::   Michael Fotis
– Be a guest on the Food Scientists Podcast!  ::  Sandra CarterSmith
– Hug David Lipkin!  ::  Bree Dalager
– Cross Stitch and Bad Movies with Squash Banana!  ::  Ariel Lopez
– Dinner with Robin Gillette!  ::  Heather Meyer
– Cody Narrates the Audience in Song Takes You to The Biggest Ball of Twine in MN!  ::  Erin Kennedy
– National Day of Improv with Nathan Kelly!  ::  Bryan Pierce
– Mini Golf, Art and Ice Cream with Two, Too (in Tutus too?)!  ::  Heather Baldwin
– Lift Weights with Hannah Wydeven!  ::  Jill Bernard
– Duo with Jill Bernard – LOCAL BIDS ONLY!  ::  Amy Zajack
– Duo with Jill Bernard – OUT-OF-TOWN BIDS ONLY!  ::  Eric Caldwell
– Pastry Tasting with Shea!  ::  Michael Hanson
– Custom Puzzle Room with Craig Corsi (1 of 2: Cooking Theme)!  ::  Bree Dalager
– Custom Puzzle Room with Craig Corsi (2 of 2: Technology Theme)!  ::  Heather Baldwin
– Dune board game day with Adam and Mookie!  ::  Breanna Cecile
– Dune on LASERDISC with Colossal Park!  ::  Andy Christian
– Get puzzled with Jesters Comedy Improv!  ::  Danny Sussman
– An evening of karaoke with Lounge Lizzy!  ::  Mary Wright
– Watch Bryce watch Rita watch Twisted!  ::  Jacob Scott
– Classic video game day with Bryce Kalal!  ::  Michael Deneen
– Loiter with jorts!  ::  Breanna Cecile
– Legos at the Science Museum with Subatomic Duck!  ::  Mary Wright
– Dinner and a Play with Heather Baldwin!  ::  Amy Burge
– HUGE Golden Ticket!  ::  Kristin Turnblom
– HUGE Golden Ticket!  ::  Ariel Lopez
– HUGE Golden Ticket!  ::  Afton Benson
– Food from India and movie night with BollyProv!  ::  Eric Heiberg
– Thrift shopping with Bree!  ::  Christopher Harrington
– Fiasco with the Frogs!  ::  Christopher Harrington
– Duo with DallaValle!  ::  John Bickford
– Second Breakfast with Second Breakfast!  ::  Danny Sussman
– Board Games with Jeff and Abe!  ::  Christopher Harrington

Thanks to everyone who fought and clawed and won – the Hangout Auction raised a grand total of $4296.40 to support HUGE Theater !

 

Class cancellation for Sunday 4/15

ATTENTION SUNDAY STUDENTS – We are cancelling all Sunday 4/15 classes and rescheduling for 6/17. Thank you for your understanding.

Your homework assignment for today is to do an improv scene with a snowperson….

Audition Schedule: Small College Town

April 14th

12:30 – 1:00 1:00 – 1:30 1:30 – 2:00 2:00 – 2:30 2:30 – 3:00
Joseph McGowan Michael Renner John Bickford Brianna Kocka Kelsey Dilts McGregor
Nikhil Enugula Sarah Busch Courtney Miller Brooke Fanning Ryan Klima
Kayleen Barlow Anna Marie Schmidt Mara Klocksien Emily Townswick Lars Midthun
Janay D. Henry Phil Schramm Marty Wessels Laura Hild Amelia Helm
Ryan Sanderson Andy Christian Monique Dargis Jack Rybarczyk Rebecca Patterson
James Satter Travis Galloway Pamela Mazzone Michael Aultman Shelby Schroeder
Christian Unser Vicky Nierengarten Ben Wagner Kya Fischer Siri Hellerman
Kim Lambert Edd Jones Lilly Rotter Laura Berger Valerie Hurst
Madhu Bangalore Ryan Blix Linda Saetre Michael Deneen

April 21st

12:30 – 1:00 1:00 – 1:30 1:30 – 2:00 2:00 – 2:30 2:30 – 3:00
Joseph Facente Will Schroeder Alicia Eler Cherelle-Renee Childs Ava Bird
Gabby Vanden Avond Ariel Starzinski Julietta Benson Danielle Heinert Matt Tatone
Erik Hoversten Brad Krieger Mike Koscielny Max Beyer Jack Kelly
Issabelle Allen Brid Henry Ally Rae Max Besner Jenny Wahl
Jeffrey Ross Amanda Schille Amee Nefzger Banks Peter Centner Kyle Dekker
Jesse David Burrows Chris Ragnacci Adam M Mellerup Tommy Feichtinger Sabrina Diehl
Justin Betancourt Cicely Robin Laing Dan Schwartz Tommy Caravello Vanessa Tu
Kristen Marks Cody Madison Eric Geistfeld Amy Zajack Vann Daley
Ernest Olhead Mike McCarron Erica Solomon Hope Slusar Joey Hamburger

AUDITION NOTICE: SMALL COLLEGE TOWN

– Last day for audition sign ups is April 5th
– Audition dates will be sent on April 8th

The producer has the right to end sign ups early if audition size reaches a
maximum point but will work to see as many people as possible

Small College Town is holding auditions for its run at HUGE Theater on Fridays
at 8:00pm in July and August.

Small College Town is an improv show inspired by the classic forms of Spoon
River and Small Town. By adding a fun, collegiate twist to it, the show will follow
four people who will go through the college experience, from application to
graduation. In tandem with four players who will play everyone else. A new and
unique college town and experience will be created every night. Structure and
fun will allow the cast to dive deep into a big life change with all the twists and
turns that college brings, up until that last day.

——-

Show run:  Fridays at 8:00pm, July/August at HUGE Theater
Auditions will take place at HUGE Theater in half-hour slots on the following
days:
–  Saturday April 14th – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
–  Saturday, April 21st, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

*** Please arrive early to fill out audition form and conflict sheets. No headshot or
resume will be needed.
To schedule an audition please fill out this FORM

Rehearsal dates and times:
May 5th, 12th 19th, 26th, June 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th
11:00 am to 1:00 pm

May 7th, 14th, 21st, 28th, June 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th, July 2nd
5:30 pm to 7:30 pm

At the audition, you will be asked to notate conflicts that you have with any of the
rehearsal dates. It is possible to miss a few rehearsals however availability will
be factored into the casting decisions. If you have any questions regarding this,
please email dwbelin@gmail.com

Rehearsals will be at HUGE Theaters and other rehearsal spaces and where
rehearsals are located will be communicated to performers in a timely fashion.
At least 50% of the cast will be comprised of people who have not been
cast for Wednesday or Friday/Saturday shows that have been at HUGE. If
you are early in your improv career, this would be a great project to audition for.
If you have any questions, please email Denzel Belin at dwbelin@gmail.com
——-

This project is celebration of a classic form with a new twist. We shall learn from
the past and each other to create a fun and engaging team and performance.
At auditions, please bring a strong sense of play, support, and creativity.
Having familiarity with the college experience is not required; this show will
celebrate everyone’s experiences and what they can bring to the table.
——-

Small College Town will be produced and directed by Denzel Belin and assistant
directed by Mawrgyn Roper.

HUGE THEATER POC IMPROV JAM

The last Sunday of every month from 4-7pm

Improv is for everybody. In an effort to get more people of color aware and interested, HUGE Theater’s diversity officer John Gebretatose is hosting a POC improv jam. This is an opportunity to meet new people, to create, to play together and to help start a new era where people of color are represented more on stage.

All ages and free of charge, sandwiches provided.
Please come as you are, that’s more than enough.

Includes an introductory workshop on improv followed by some scenes on stage – participation is optional.
The POC improv jam is a relaxed and non intimidating event.

Why is this event for POC only? Since it’s about having representation it makes sense to have a space where people can feel they’re important and deserve to be in the room. The value to having a non white POC jam uplifts marginalized groups. Also, there’s other events for that. A lot of them.

Got questions? No problem, email John Gebretatose at john@hugetheater.com or visit the Facebook group.

Intersections and Intentions

To HUGE Theater audiences, supporters, performers and community:  

If you don’t already know, get ready to know – at HUGE we’re devoted to diversity and inclusion. It’s a goal and a process. Along the way, we’re fully aware and ready to admit that we have made mistakes in the past and it’s very likely we’re going to make some more mistakes in the future.

The following is not the story of blaming or admonishing one production for mistakes that were made, it’s an account of some recent mistakes and lessons learned as we work to recognize our blind spots before we veer into them next time.

[ BEFORE WE START :   Four white people wrote this.
For readers of color, these learnings will likely be obvious to you. We recognize the place of privilege from which this note is written. We sought advice from our colleague of color (diversity and inclusion director John Gebretatose) to help us see around our blinders.

We recognize that what we’ve learned has come at the cost of a lot of emotional labor from our colleagues and performers of color – we want to make sure that effort reaches more people so we can all do better in the future.   Thank you, again and always, for your patience with us while we get there.

We are writing to a mostly to a white audience of improv producers and directors.  Our goal is to help us all do better recognizing our privilege and create more inclusive spaces.
If you’re thinking you don’t need to think about this, please know that’s the first sign of trouble.]

Ready? Here we go.

The Events

  • Issues arose during the rehearsal and production process of a show called Party Riot
  • Party Riot is an independent production, supported by HUGE Theater, as are more than sixty percent of our weekend shows.
  • The show was created with the goal of empowering and supporting female-identified and non-binary artists, and the shows producers made intentional efforts to cast a diverse group overall, including four women of color in a cast of 23 people
  • The leadership team of Party Riot as well as HUGE Theater are almost entirely white.
  • Over the course of rehearsals, concerns were raised by women of color about their experience and communication difficulties.
  • The original show promotion artwork design featured an abstracted image of a woman of color as the only human image representing the show featuring a small (but still greater than any other previous show) number of women of color – when paired with the title created a negative connotation.
  • The original artwork was scrapped when concerns were voiced – it was never used – HUGE Theater leadership also failed to flag the design it when it was sent to us.
  • The production team of Party Riot held several meetings to involve the entire cast, listen to concerns and repair the process moving forward – new artwork was created for the show that featured photos of actual cast members that emphasize the positive aspects of the show’s original intent.
  • HUGE Leadership met with show leadership to improve communication.We also contacted the Party Riot cast directly via email to make sure they know we’re aware that we could have done better from the beginning and make ourselves more directly available going forward.
  • We also let the cast and production team know that this public post would be coming – it is a hard lesson, and we know more producers can learn from it.
  • The Party Riot leadership team and cast continue to work together – The show opened at the beginning of January to a packed house and brought. the. house. down.

 

The Problems

Here are some things we as an organization learned from this experience about being effective (and sometimes failing) in meeting the challenges of creating a space that truly supports – in addition to valuing and encouraging – diversity and inclusion.

Specifically, our mistakes as HUGE Improv Theater were:

  • Not understanding the limits of good intentions without immediately providing support and infrastructure for change.
  • Not anticipating or recognizing that “safe space” is not the same for all performers, and needs to be defined so that people of color feel equally celebrated and supported.
  • Not recognizing and flagging a combination of image and title that showed an icon of a person of color only, paired with blindness to social and cultural issues of race in relationship to show title.
  • Overall, the need for greatly heightened transparency and care – as well as being more visibly available to our independent producers and casts as well as shows directly produced by HUGE.
    Support mechanisms need to be more accessible to work better for everyone. In the future, when productions begin, the theater will ask for the contact information for the cast so we can give them logistics (show guidelines, comp instructions, etc.) as well as giving everyone a direct channel to reach us if they experience problems or have concerns.

 

The Positive

The simple fact that women of color felt they could bring these issues to our attention — and did so — is tremendous. We have to thank them for bravery atop of courage atop of trust atop of patience. Again. We are so very thankful you are here. Thank you for giving us another chance to do better. We will do better.

The fact that director of diversity and inclusion John Gebretatose works tirelessly to make himself available. He does this  both as a person that performers of color can reach out to at any time, and also to patiently sit down with the HUGE team and walk us through (some of) our blind spots. His dedication and endurance are such a gift to us all.

We recognize that there are communities that would have to put in years of work to reach the point where it would even be possible to make mistakes like these. We truly appreciate that people are willing to take risks and do the work, and we want to do whatever we can to make HUGE feel like home to everyone.

The fact that Party Riot is pushing forward and doing the work – before, during and after  mistakes were made. These mistakes happened because the show producers are trying to make this art form more inclusive – we all are.
The process is not simple or easy or painless but absolutely necessary.

We are pleased to say that Party Riot is running Saturday nights at 8pm at HUGE and they’ve done hard work to rally around and expand their mission. Please support these courageous improvisors.

We encourage you – now or at any time you’d like – to please share your thoughts, concerns, feelings. You can email any or all of us or please feel free to use our anonymous feedback form (link below)

We are open and we are working to do better.

Thank you for your time and patience.

The Board of HUGE Theater

Link to our feedback form :  https://goo.gl/LVCT9d

 

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