Hey all – it’s been a while.
Been musing on a couple of posts but there is always so much to do that keeps me away from the keyboard for extended periods of time but there are so many cool things coming up you need to know about. As always – I don’t want you to come see shows because we want to sell more tickets, I want you to come see these shows because if you miss them I feel sorry for you.
If you miss these, you miss out.
— Down to Business —
Annual MonstOberFest Shows…and then some
October is one of my favorite months at HUGE because it brings back two of my favorite shows – Survivors of the Undead Plague and Creature Feature – the run is short so make sure you catch them while you can. Survivors features a new cast of frightened zombie chow and new lessons in improv gun safety – I look forward to this show all year long, come see why.
Creature Feature might be the first HUGE show ever created and it’s always a blast when it comes around every October – 8 years running and those kids never learn to stay away from the abandoned chemical plant…or to stick together…
They are playing Fridays and Saturdays* and Halloween night.
October 19-20th ::
*Survivors and Creature Feature are NOT on that weekend – because the great and mighty BASSPROV will be here for one weekend only! Joe Bill and Mark Sutton row the fishing boat to the stage at HUGE Theater and we’re damn excited to have them and very thankful to the State Arts Board for the touring grant that made it possble!
Other fun news :: October 21st
The Mustache Rangers are going to be streaming their 250th podcast on stage where they started off, at the Improv A Go Go – Congratulations to the Rangers, we’re very excited to see all the awkward pauses live in person !
That same night features a very special one-night-only return of THE BENNETS – they will put a crimp in your brain!
New shows coming in November :: Throwback Night, Family Dinner, The Board of Directors and the Mustache Rangers
Throwback Night : an Evening of Old School Improv – This one has been a long time coming!
Five Man Job (Butch Roy, Nels Lennes and Lauren Anderson) direct three groups of improvisers showcasing classic long form improv structures The Harold, The Deconstruction (invented by Del Close and The Family) and Close Quarters (invented at Second City, Chicago) that will stretch your mind – Why an improv theater? This is why. Come see.
Fridays at 8pm – Nov 2nd – Dec 28th
Mustache Rangers – That’s right, Cadets! The Rangers are back! Warm up the ion cannons, turn off the safety alerts and herd your friends into HUGE theater for this show.
Fridays at 9:30pm – Nov 2nd – Dec 28th
Family Dinner – HUGE’s first holiday show, we decided to do the holidays at your house.
A cast of improvisers from all over the Twin Cities meet on stage as a family returning home for the holidays – complete with a holiday feast. Originally staged at ComedySportz, we are excited and proud to bring your family to our stage.
Saturdays at 8pm – Nov 3rd – Dec 29th
The Board of Directors – Seriously. We are the actual, factual Board of Directors of HUGE Theater.
If you’ve ever sat in an improv show and thought, “Hmmm…I wonder how they make budgetary decisions” then we’ve failed in so, so many ways.
BUT If you’ve ever thought, “I wonder how the people that run this place would handle a ninja invasion…” then this show will answer your strange, strange questions.
The Board is: Butch Roy, Jill Bernard, Nels Lennes and Molly Chase
Saturdays at 9:30pm – Nov 3rd – Dec 29th
There is more, there is always more – but I think that is enough for now.
Two years ago, we were handed the keys to this big concrete box that everyone has turned into a theater.
We have a very special weekend coming up while the casts of SPORT, Star Trek and Bearded Men are in Austin, Texas representing MN at the Out Of Bounds Festival. Time to break out some special mischief while everyone is away…
Friday – 8pm – Off Book : Fringe Edition
Off Book is the show that pairs an actor that has learned their half of a two-person scene with an improviser that has no idea what the scene (or even the play) is. Featuring scripts and cast from your favorite Fringe Festival shows of 2012.
Friday – 10:30 – Ferrari McSpeedy and Five Man Job
Mike Fotis and Joe Bozic are Ferrari McSpeedy, the two-man assault on the senses and the fabric of time and space. Nels Lennes, Butch Roy and Lauren Anderson make up Five Man Job, they will take you to such dark places – Two great insane tastes that taste insanely great together.
Saturday – 8pm – Ka-Baam!!
The improvised superhero comic returns to HUGE Theater!
You give us the names of three heroes that don’t yet exist and we’ll give you their origin stories and giant-action-packed-team-up-adventure, complete with cover art drawn during the show by our special guest artist.
Saturday – 10:30 – The Explorer’s Club Returns
Improv comedy meets Manifest Destiny. Come hear and see the tales of the greatest group of adventurers and explorers in this world or any other. Explorer’s Club is now part of the Saturday Late Night Mix, first Saturday of every month!
There was a piece in the Star Tribune that’s making its way around about how the Twin Cities theater scene does a bad job of self-critique. It got me musing about the difficulties of critiquing improv, for the audiences, journalists, and performers alike. These are incomplete and scattered thoughts but here goes:
More than once it’s happened that the first improv show an audience member has ever seen turns out to be bad, and from that experience they drew the conclusion “Improv sucks!” They never want to see another improv show again. The criticism extends beyond the company they saw to the entire discipline.
Years ago there was a website called improvreview.com, which has since been taken over by Japanese hacker spam. There were two problems. First, the reviewers wrote with an authoritative tone, as if their opinion were more than just an opinion. Second, improv is built on positivity, so a grumpy Andy-Rooney style clashes badly with the subject of the critique.
Mainstream reviewers have some major obstacles. They feel like they can’t review improv because it’s different every time. There’s also no budget for it – to cover improv, a newspaper would have to take away coverage from a scripted theater because they don’t have space for both. Reviewers also do not have the vocabulary and don’t know how to diagnose what makes improv good or bad. For example, they’ll say, “You couldn’t tell it was improvised!” as a negative critique or they’ll get upset if only one suggestion was taken and used in an indirect way. They’ll compare it to “Whose Line Is It Anyway” regardless of whether it in any way resembles it.
We wrote a nice piece about how to look at improv for the Fringe Festival last year, I think it helps some.
It’s hard for insiders to review improv because we don’t want to break each other’s spirits. Improv feels so personal. It’s you up there onstage, and the words and actions aren’t the fault of a director or playwright, that’s you too. Over the years I’ve gotten better at giving students the honest critiques they crave, finding ways to phrase them that are clear and make sense without hurting. Oddly, the students who beg me to give them a harsh critique are the first to pout and check out when it’s given. And so I proceed gently and thoughtfully and directly, and try to create a culture where it is damn clear we’re talking about the work and not the person. It’s still difficult terrain.
These are the challenges. I lay them before you.
– Jill Bernard
It feels like the beginning of something new and exciting and nerve-wracking.
I was also worried about the announcement – because I am always aware of how much I feel I owe people and I was afraid of hurting anyone’s feelings as we started paying out. Worried about the “what about me?” question I figured was so inevitable.
To my surprise, it hasn’t happened yet, in fact I was approach a few times by people asking “What about you?” – because their main concern was that HUGE pay me before themselves. Some of them got back to me to say they didn’t want to be paid and would like to continue to volunteer their hours to the theater as a way they can keep donating.
Small moments, maybe, but another way that our people continue to stagger me with how unselfish and wonderful and giving they are at every turn – As the guy in charge, I can tell you that it’s no small thing.
These are the things I stress about the most in running the business part of the theater – and these people manage to turn it into a joy. I will never not owe them for everything they have done and everything they continue to do, money can’t really capture what their contributions mean and can’t really give them what they deserve – but it’s a start and it’s about damn time.
Exciting times – new things on the horizon as we emerge from Fringe Festival madness
Everyone take a minute to rest, dust yourselves off and then we are going to get the Fall season rolling with a lot of cool new stuff – not least of which is the Improv A Go Go will be Pay What You Can starting on 8/19 when it starts back up. That means you can come any Sunday, name your price and enjoy some of the best, newest and strangest improv in the Cities.
This was made possible by our Members – we hear that our Membership program keeps ticket prices down all the time, but rarely do we get to see tangible results from it, normally it just means things stay the way they are. We have been very eager to get the ticket price of IAGG back down ever since we raised them out of financial need and our Members are indeed what allowed that to happen – if you’re a Member already, thank you.
If you’re not a member yet, sign up and see what other cool stuff we can do!
New Shows :: Sean & The Ladies, Class of ’94, Special Shows and GONE
Starting 8/16, Thursday nights are a lot more musical and a little more lady-like as Sean & The Ladies bring their improvised musical show straight into your ear and eye holes.
Beginning 8/17, class is in session at De Roma High as the angst and antics of the Class of ’94 hit Fridays at 9:30
Friday, 8/31 – One night only – Off Book, Fringe Edition!
Off Book, the show that pairs an actor that has memorized one half of a script with an improviser that has no idea what the script is, presents a special night of scenes pulled from your favorite Fringe Festival shows!
Saturday, 9/1 – One night only – KaBaam! the improvised comic book returns!
Three origin stories of heroes you name – one action packed team adventure – too many thrills for one stage in one night for one audience! Watch if you dare!!!
8pm Fridays in September – GONE
The improvised, mind-bending drama of a collection of “castaways” who are “trapped” on an “island” after they “crash” and have to “survive” any way they can.
8/23 – Happy Hour Board Meeting and Open House
Join us. Come take a look around, come ask questions of us. Come make suggestions. Give ideas. Get involved. Or just come have a beer, listen in and find out what HUGE is planning and how we’re doing.
That is all for now, hope to see you when you’ve all slept off your Fringe hangover
Just to clarify – The MN Fringe does not begin until August 2nd.
However we are closed 7/28-8/1 for Fringe tech week to allow the Fringe technicians to load in and all the shows time to prep in the space for opening on the 2nd.
The Minnesota Fringe Festival is upon us! Whoo hoo!
Schedule of Fringe shows at HUGE:
The first HUGE show after Fringe is Thursday August 16th
(8PM Sean and the Ladies followed by Space Jam.)
This doesn’t mean you’ll be improv deprived! The Minnesota Fringe is chock-full of improv, including work by Ferrari McSpeedy, Tim Hellendrung, Emily Schmidt, Joe Ye, Sean Hansberry, Laura Baller Mahler, Theatre of Public Policy and Le Cirque Rouge. August 2-12. Go to www.fringefestival.org for all the details!
Hey all – just an update on the HUGE Happy Hour Meeting
August 23rd we want to invite everyone to come with questions, ideas and whatever else they like – but we also want to open the theater up and invite everyone to come take a look. We’re adding “Open House” to the already very hyphenated Public-Meeting-of-the-Board-Happy-Hour session.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind those walls, I can assure you it isn’t nearly glamorous or magical – but now you can come see for yourself!
5pm – 7:30
ALL WILL BE REVEALED IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME