theatre

Podcast Rec No. 3: "The Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast"

RSC PodcastWhen I was 21 years old, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the DVD recording The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). I was a theatre major who spent her spare time watching Kids in the Hall and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, so this comedy was a perfect mix of my interests that showed up at just the right time. Years after that, my friend Sue told me about the existence of the Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast, hosted by Austin Tichenor. The topics cover the range of comedy and theatre with a bit of science fiction nerdiness thrown in there. I highly recommend this podcast (as well as their recorded shows) to everyone with at least one out of three of these interests. What episode to start with: It’s a tie! “Creating Improv Zombies” and “May the Fourth.”

This was a tough choice, because I really do love all of the episodes and they’re so brief. In “Creating Improv Zombies,” RSC member Reed Martin discusses developing the Improv Zombies from Hell as “a story that can pair The Walking Dead with Whose Line is it Anyway.” It was performed at Napa Valley College, running November 13-22, 2015. Improv and sketch performers and writers might find the conversation enlightening in their own practices from Martin’s use of improv, games, and “stupid human tricks” to build a show.

And the episode “May the Fourth” features writer/podcaster David J. Loehr as well as arts advocate and former director of the American Theatre Wing, Howard Sherman. The trio focuses on the pop-culture phenomenon that is Star Wars, the power of sagas, and the difference between the influence of Star Wars versus Star Trek. They also briefly touch on one of my favorite topics, which is science fiction-based plays and musicals and what is their future. I have my own theories about why and how this could work, but that’s a whole other blog.

Running time: Each episode runs between 15 to 30 minutes. Trust me when I say there is plenty of material here for some serious podcast binging. After all, there’s eight years of it.

For more about the theatre company and the podcast, visit www.reducedshakespeare.com.

KC Ryan is currently a Level Three student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

What We're Loving: Obligatory Horror, Celebrity Visits, Meta Batman, Silly Writing

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison fulfills a legal obligation, Jonda Robinson teases human trafficking, Molly Jakkamsetti goes deep Keaton, and Ryan Callahan asks that you hold him accountable. MV5BNTUxNzYyMjg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTExNzExNw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_I believe that I'm legally required to write about something Halloween related in this space this week. Like if I don't then they, whoever they are, will check me into a facility where unwilling persons check in, but they don't check out. The hard part about that forced assignment is that I feel like so many of the cool horror films are just kinda gross. For me, gory films that are created just to sicken the viewer are kind of like that overly competitive asshole who starts throwing shit when he loses at bar trivia; you're doing something that's supposed to be fun, so just calm down. Not to say that there shouldn't be blood, guts, or gore in film, I think that stuff is great if it happens in the right context. I should still enjoy watching the movie right? Is that too much to ask?

The best example of the sort of fun horror movie that I love is Cabin In The Woods. If you haven't seen it, the 2012 film does an amazing job of telling two stories concurrently. The micro view follows a group of college kids that are travelling to a CABIN IN THE WOODS. The macro view focuses on the architects of the scenario. Meta is the dumbest word in the fucking world, but it's very apt in this example. This was unquestionably one of the most fun experiences I've ever had watching a movie in the theater, regardless of genre. It's got blood, but the blood is like fun blood.

And if you want to see a live horror movie, come out to DCH on Friday to check out the improvised horror movie! The Friday show at 10 p.m. includes actual fake blood! - David Allison

2On Tuesday afternoon I got home and was greeted by a most welcome face—my good friend, Amy Poehler. That’s right, she was waiting for me at apartment. I had known for weeks that she’d be arriving that day, so I was thoroughly excited about hanging out with her. So far, she hasn’t disappointed.

Ok, so you’ve probably guessed that it was not the REAL Amy, but her book, Yes Please, that showed up at my doorstep. While I haven’t had a chance to read all of it yet, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve taken in so far, and I have enough faith in Amy to say that I will love it. At the very start of her book, Amy declares that “writing is hard” and admits that “blood was shed” in the fight for her to get this thing written. She offers many stories from her life, her take on certain topics, and even sex tips (for girls AND guys!).

Amy is a source of inspiration for me and so many others, so instead of blubbering on any longer I’ll close with two quotes from her so I can get back to my reading:

  1. “So here we go, you and me. Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it is not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
  2. “I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.”

Never change, Amy—never change. - Jonda Robinson

awesome-birdman-teaser-trailer-michael-keaton-is-a-superhero-again-michael-keaton-goes-meta-batman-in-birdman-trailerBirdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance:  Let me start by saying although people much more qualified than myself have already praised this movie, I’m throwing in my two cents of support. It’s about a former Hollywood superstar who is trying to restart his career with a serious play on Broadway. And Michael Keaton, who starred as Batman in the 1989 and 1992 blockbusters, plays Riggan, whose alter-ego is Birdman.

While much of the movie focuses on Riggan’s internal struggles with insecurity and fear surrounding his "comeback," it is also about the art of acting. It is about what is real and what is not on and off stage. Edward Norton is hilarious as the New York theater actor who comes in to "save" Keaton’s play, right before previews. Zach Galifianakis plays Riggan’s delightfully harried agent. The whole movie looks like one long, uninterrupted take. This amazed me and really drew me in. The soundtrack is jazzy, adding to the cool New York City vibe, where it was filmed. And if you’re still not interested, there’s Emma Stone as Riggan’s cynical daughter/personal assistant. Naomi Watts as the starry-eyed actress who is new to Broadway. Did I mention Edward Norton is in his underwear at one point? It’s meta and weird, and I want to see it again. Critics are praising Keaton as they should. I have enjoyed his work since Mr. Mom. That’s his 1983 comedy with Teri Garr where she works and he stays at home with the kids. Not unusual now, but back then WOAH!! - Molly Jakkamsetti

imgresIn the hopes of making up for my absence the past few weeks, I humbly offer TWO things that I am loving.

Loved Thing Number One: A Load of Hooey by Bob Odenkirk. There has been no show that influenced my sense of comedy more than Mr. Show with Bob and David. As I have said before, my favorite ever comedy sketch: "The Story of the Story of the Story of Everest" comes from Mr. Show. Hooey is Odenkirk's first book, and I will say that it is all rather very silly. There are brief speeches, unabridged versions of famous quotations, and even a short play featuring Hitler, which will no doubt draw the ire of Nick Scott. The book reads like a comic's notebook, but one that has been polished. It's also the quickest book you'll ever read.

Loved Thing Number Two: National Novel Writing Month. Starts tomorrow. If you have always wanted to write a novel, but have always made excuses, here is your chance. Sure, you'll write a terrible, sloppy first draft, but you will have a draft, and that is so much better than just having an idea. It's 1,667 words a day. Many of them can be the word "and." You'll be done in no time.

I have attempted NaNoWriMo (that's really what people call it) twice in the past, failing once and winning once. Finishing a 50,000-word novel is considered a win. Sadly, there is no parade. Unless you have an abundance of action figures. I'm giving it another try this year. I am making this announcement publicly so people will give me a hard time if I don't do it, and badger me about my progress. Who's coming with me? - Ryan Callahan

What We're Loving: Narrow Genres, Gothic Impressions, Busting, Moving

Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison forgets to cite Chuck &  Buck, Jonda Robinson admits bias, and Molly Jakkamsetti has children dance for her enjoyment. MV5BMTQ5NDQ5Nzg2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjI3MDc1MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_I think the most specific genre of film I enjoy is what I call “Movies about a crazy person that puts on an independant play.” Before you fly off the handle and talk about how that’s barely a genre, let me remind you of Waiting for Guffman and Hamlet 2. Both are great films and both belong in that ultra specific category. But because this subset is such a small slice of the movie pie, I don’t often get to enjoy new releases. That’s what made this week so cool! We’ve got a new one for the pantheon! Beep! Beep! Beep! I don’t know why I put those there. I checked out OJ: The Musical and since it’s part of my favorite genre, it’s what I’m loving this week!

OJ: The Musical, formerly known as Orenthal: The Musical, follows the struggle of Eugene (Jordan Kenneth Kamp) as he moves to California to put on a musical and reunite with friends from his past. The music is really fun and fits the wacky tone of a musical about OJ Simpson. What I really appreciated about this movie though, was the way it showcased the mental instability and insanity of many creative people. The movie has it’s flaws, but the performance by Kamp and the music make it well worth viewing. - David Allison

urlI’m afraid someone’s been stalking me. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but it’s the only way I can explain the most recent installment of The Dead Author’s Podcast that dropped this week. It’s like they made this one just for me, as this episode features one of my favorite funny ladies, Lennon Parham, playing the part of one of my favorite authors, Flannery O’Connor, to create a delightful hour of literary discussion. It’s one of those things that I didn’t even know I needed, but now I’m so glad I don’t have to live without.

In case you aren’t familiar with The Dead Author’s Podcast, it involves time-traveling literary legend H.G. Wells (played by Paul F. Tompkins) welcoming some of our greatest authors (played by some of your favorite funny people) to the present for a chat on their work and their life. In this installment you get to hear about everything from the effects of lupus on Flannery’s life (“three-legged races, no sir”), to her disdain for spending time with people (she’d rather just write them a letter), to her infatuation with birds (minus swans, as she claims they are “bitches”). If you haven’t checked out this podcast before, this is a great episode to start with. Or maybe it isn’t. I don’t really know, since I’m biased, because they clearly made this episode specifically for me.

If you listen to the podcast and want more Flannery in your life, I suggest you give “Good Country People” or “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” a read. To see more of Lennon’s work, go watch season one of the sitcom she created and stars in with her BFF Jessica St. Clair, Playing House, then join me in urging the USA Network to renew it for season two. - Jonda Robinson

When-THe-DJ-Drops-Ur-JamI am not a big meme follower. My favorites are LOLcats and anything with Condescending Willy Wonka. In fact, I am not even 100 percent sure what "meme" means. It’s like the title of something, right? Someone help me understand Internet terminology!

Well a meme is what I am loving this week. A co-worker showed me this one – it’s of a child, and the meme is “when the DJ drops your jam.” The child is at what has got to be at a church. There are adults in front who appear to be looking down at hymnals and singing. They are blissfully unaware that behind them, a future club kid is raving it up. (Do people actually rave anymore? Forgive my dated references. I haven’t hit ‘da club’ in many a year.)

The music that is playing over is I believe is what the millennials call “dub step.” It fits pretty well with the child as she flails her arms about. And her little face is so serious, as anyone would be when her jam is being dropped. Like “YEAH IT IS ABOUT TO GO DOWN,” and indeed it does, for 45 seconds. And that is all it is, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. Just an innocent toddler, being taken over by the power of BASS. Whatever the actual music was must have been extremely moving, because this child is working it (I told you my references were dated).

You can easily find it on Facebook or You Tube. I encourage you to use it as your inspiration for the next time you need to bust a move (still dated). - Molly Jakkamsetti

Un-Scripted's "Act One, Scene Two"

Un-Scripted Theater CompanyDear writers, here's a production you should consider submitting work to. It's called "Act One, Scene Two," and it's organized by San Francisco’s Un-Scripted Theater Company. What you do is...well, they say it best:

For every performance, we will feature one playwright, and the first scene of a play in any genre (comedy, tragedy, drama, tragicomedy, absurdist, postmodern existentialist feminism, etc.) that hasn't been completed yet. We'll interview them onstage, perform a cold reading of that first scene (Act One, Scene One), and then continue the play to its end--only now we're improvising--from Act One, Scene Two.

Un-Scripted asks that you submit an opening scene that is 5-9 pages in length. That scene can be the entire first scene or just part of the scene. After the cold reading and author interview, they'll continue the play for 90-120 minutes (with an intermission). Wow, that's a lot of improv!

Submissions are open to anyone worldwide, and more information can be found in the submission guidelines.

Now, anyone up for doing something similar (maybe on a smaller scale) at DCH?