Duofest begins today

09/30/2010

Tonight marks the start of the first ever DUOFEST, hosted by the PHILLY IMPROV THEATER and taking place at the Shubin.

This weekend explores the joys of duos… two person improv that until now has never appreciated this level of attention. Kudos to the producers for locking in on a unique theme and creating a playspace for this abundant but underdeveloped corner of the improv world.

Audiences have four days of twosome love to take in, and there’s a lot of talent that’s going to be represented on stage through the weekend. You’re likely familiar with a lot of the local ones… the longtime partnership of Whipsuit, the organically fresh Amie & Kristen Show, the one-man duo with an audience member M@&, the newly retitled Rosen & Milkshake and even an old school reunion of Holmes/Maughan. All of the acts promise to be excited and fun-filled, but because weekend passes are long since sold out and I love lists, I’m giving you my picks of new, exciting and different duos you may not know about but probably want to make a point of checking out this weekend.

THURSDAY PICKS

Toy Soldiers
Kelly Vrooman & Alan Williams

Kicking off the list and performing tonight are Toy Soldiers. These are two local improvisers very dear to my heart, not only because I’ve played with both of them regularly through the years, but more so because I’ve been in the audience watching them. They’re individually fun to watch, and I’m really excited for the debut of them together in a premise that plays exceptionally to their strengths.

Gay Boy / Straight Boy
Steve Kleinedler & Dana Bein

Closing out opening night is this duo from Boston. As the title might suggest, one is gay and one is straight, but most importantly, both are hilarious. I’ve been able to play with Steve on numerous occasions, and he’s always a delight. Although I haven’t climbed on stage with Dana, he’s a joy to watch and makes some surprising choices. I’ve been waiting to catch them together in this show, and tonight I finally get to.

FRIDAY PICKS

The Cascade
Rick Andrews & Jenny Dunne

Rick is a Duofest producer and brings with him a long history of improvised stage work, starting out at ImprovBoston and continuing up through his current work with Magnet, where he met Jenny. Although she’s newer to the craft, she’s had the opportunity to dive in and train with some of the best NY has to offer. Now watch as these two carefully explore the nuances of perspective and change, reliving a single moment over and over, discovering how subtle choices define consequence.

Grandma Hates Technology
Mike Weiss & Jessica Weiss

A father-daughter act that is as quick and clever as it is adorable. They brought the house down and wowed audiences at PHIF last year, and since that time have been on a streak, killing stages at festivals all across the country. Anyone that has any doubts about Jessica’s age surely hasn’t seen that girl take on solid adult personas and bust out shadow characters with the best of them. Truly a unique show not to be missed.

SATURDAY PICKS

Scout and Handsome Rob
Marcy Jarreau & Rob Penty

It’s no secret I’ve had an improv crush on Marcy for years, from her days conquering UCB’s Project Improviser, clear up to the present, as her all-female ensemble Bombardo continues to be a highlight of PHIF each year. In this show, she reunites with Megawatt Team X co-star Rob (sending out some Imposters love) for a duo that’s sure to be filled with strong characters and bold moves.

Snake Pitt
Jake Schneider & Jonathan Pitts

One’s part of Improvised Shakespeare and The Reckoning. The other created Storybox and runs CIF. These are two Chicago greats, just doing what they do best. Sit back and soak it in.

IMP
Asaf Ronen & Karen Eleanor Wight

Local audiences may be familiar with Asaf and his work he’s brought to Philadelphia in the past. A wonder on his own, when you put Karen in the mix for IMP, you get something that really jumps a few levels. Mostly devoid of spoken words, this commedia inspired clowning duo communicates more effectively with glances and gestures than many improvisers could hope to do with an arsenal of verbal language. Fluid character archetypes, combined with often poetic and always hypnotic visual storytelling creates something that isn’t improv… because it defies description.

Landry and Summers
Shaun Landry & Hans Summers

This duo are married to the stage and to one another. Both Second City Alums, both determined to show California how it’s done… first in San Francisco and now taking up residence in LA. 25 years improvising together is no small feat, and here’s a rare chance for folks on the east coast to see what that kind of shared skill, knowledge, intimacy and trust can create on stage.

SUNDAY PICKS

Hodapp and Rothwell
Dan Hodapp & Natasha Rothwell

Two fantastic and funny people who NY is very fortunate to have. They won Magnet’s Improv Duo Tournament in 2009. They won my heart long before that.

Adventure Squad
Kaci Beeler & Valerie Ward

I’ll be honest that I’ve heard nothing about this show, nor am I familiar with the improvisers. But the show description alone has my interest genuinely piqued. Closing out Duofest, these ladies play awkward, quirky pre-teens living through a single day of school. Nostalgia and cringing humiliation are apparently on the lesson plan, and attendance is mandatory.

There are dozens of other acts running throughout the weekend, and you can get the details on all of them on the Duofest website.

FIRST ANNUAL DUOFEST
PHILLY IMPROV THEATER @ THE SHUBIN
407 BAINBRIDGE ST, PHILADELPHIA
SEPT 30TH – OCT 3RD

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From Around the Blogs

01/21/2009

With TV Land gearing up for season 5 of Lost tonight, the Animosity Pierre video featured at CvA yesterday is gaining some traction; it’s now featured over at Phillyist as well.

Matt at Improvoker recounts a note from Amy Poehler that I want to have framed for my wall.

More on Asaf Ronen’s east coast tourAlexis Simpson talks about applying techniques from his workshop last week at PHIT’s Unofficial Blog

Local comedian Gregg Gethard offers up painful dating woes for our amusement at Comic vs Audience


Asaf Ronen descends on Philly

01/21/2009

Improvisers are in for a treat as Asaf Ronen will be hitting Philly a couple times over the next few weeks on an east coast teaching tour. Currently based out of Austin, Asaf is a favorite guest instructor at national festivals (including two back-to-back years at PHIF), is the author of Directing Improv and half of the improv-clowning duo, IMP.

asaf

  • Asaf was in town this past weekend teaching his acclaimed Physical Improv workshop for PHIT students.
  • On Friday, Jan 30th, the N Crowd will scale back their weekly set to make room for Asaf as he and students from last week’s class take to the stage to the likely amazement, delight and fancy of onlookers who have yet to be determined (tickets here).
  • Finally on Sunday, Feb 1, PHIT brings Asaf back to teach Getting Yourself Out of Your Own Way.

The N Crowd w/ guests Asaf Ronen & Friends
Friday, Jan. 30 @ 8PM
The Actors Center, 257 N Third St

PHIT Workshop: Getting Yourself Out of Your Own Way
Sunday, Feb. 1 @ 3PM | $50
Phila Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Sq


PHIF4 Workshops!!

10/10/2008

Workshop registration is now open for the 4th Annual Philadelphia Improv Festival.

All workshops will be held at the Plays & Players Theater, 1714 Delancey St. The cost is $50 and they will be 3 hours in length.

If you are a PHIF4 performer, you will receive an email pointing you to a page where you can register at a 30% discount. You can also emailfor the link.

Friday, Nov. 14th

Starting Out Strong
Instructor: Bill Binder
Friday, 11/14 @ 10AM

The beginnings of shows should be more than a chance to create chaos or fulfill some requirement of your format. Those beginning minutes of a show are a chance to check in with your ensemble, to find and agree on the focus and direction of your show, and hopefully, to invite the audience to come on the journey with you rather than confusing them. This workshop uses techniques to unify and strengthen your ensemble’s openings.

Deal With It
Instructor: Mark Grenier
Friday, 11/14 @ 2PM

As improvisers, we often expect others to play by certain rules and we get frustrated when teammates don’t meet our expectations. Sometimes we need a reminder that the improviser’s job is to accept – to accept everything and to embrace every contribution as a gift. Your ability to “yes and” is truly tested when encountering the unusual, the unexpected, and the undesired. Well, in this workshop you’ll be confronted with the things you may despise – questions, denials, curve balls, poor listening, bad object work, selfish partners, and complete stupidity – and you’ll learn ways to not just accept it but to make magic out of it. Stop wishing for the ideal partner and deal with it!

Breaking Out the Scene
Instructor: Asaf Ronen
Friday, 11/14 @ 2PM

Learn how to go beyond the linear storytelling of improvisation by incorporating editing and presentation techniques appropriated from independent films like Amelié, The Royal Tenenbaums and Reservoir Dogs. Techniques will be shown on developing a group’s awareness to all the possibilities that are available to a group at any given moment in an improv scene including ways to build mood, theme and character.

Saturday, Nov. 15th

MadSkillz
Instructor: Rene Duquesnoy
Saturday, 11/15 @ 10AM

Learn how to rap for an improv show. Rene Duquesnoy, creator of the hiphop improv show The Beatbox, will teach freestyling techniques, short-form rap games (like Rap Line, Beastie Rap, and Audience & Hammer Time) and different effects used in The Beatbox. Learn how to enhance a scene by adding quick hiphop tricks. This class will help longform and shortform improvisers alike.

Advanced Dialogue Techniques
Instructor: Kevin Patrick Robbins
Saturday, 11/15 @ 10AM and/or 2PM

Learn to economize your dialogue and strip out unnecessary exposition, explanations and justifications. A variety of dialogue techniques will be explored that will improve your scene work, lead to more relationship-driven scenes, and some that just make your scenes cooler.

You can choose to take this at either time slot individually or combine them for a six hour dialogue intensive.


Improv Diagnostics

Instructor: Asaf Ronen
Saturday, 11/15 @ 2PM

No lesson plans. Instead, the focus is on pinpointing the individual students’ tendencies. Find out what your strengths are and where you could explore further. Working in a non-stop series of short, quick scenes, you will learn what your patterns are and how to break them through personalized challenges. Maximized stage time guaranteed. Great for beginners who want to develop new skills and for professionals who want to keep fresh.

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PHIF is also offering a Special Student Pass for $50 that gets you full access to all shows and a 30% discount on workshops. Signup before 10/20 and you’ll also get a free PHIF4 tshirt!

Questions can be directed to workshops@phif.org