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July, 2010

Callback to 2003: Slumber Party Slaughter

cast of Slumber Party Slaughter

Roy here.

Welcome to the inaugural installment of Callback,  a new series of posts looking back at shows that happened somewhere in the recesses of The Hideout’s 11 year history. Improv is such a temporary, ephemeral art form, that I thought it would be nice to try and relive some of the highlights of the past.

We begin with a gruesome tale.

Ever since I started taking classes at the Hideout, I’d hear occasionally about Slumber Party Slaughter, a special Halloween show put on in 2003. I could never quite tell if the people involved thought it was the best thing ever, or a terrible, terrible idea. This all went down when the Hideout’s house troupe was still called The Heroes of Comedy. So naturally I asked an old-school Hero, Kevin Miller, to clue me in on the details.

Take it away, Kevin:

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Baudecliffe Reviews


Sometimes we’ll do 2 months of shows and never get a single review. But our second Who Is T. Henry Baudecliffe? show was attended by 3 different reviewers… from Now Playing Austin, The Austin American Statesman, and The Austinist.

Here are our favorite quotes from the articles…

What is real and what is not, and does it matter who T. Henry Baudecliffe really is? Not when he has left behind such “fractured, fantastical” stories and drawings and the actors at the Hideout improvise upon these themes. You feel as though you are in the mind of T. Henry and seeing the world as he did, even though you have just met him (so to speak). An evening well spent on many layers. Excellent work by the Hideout.

-Now Playing Austin

The production values are quite high. The soundtrack was brilliantly in step with the action, helping to set the mood, and even — as in the final triumphant sequence — evoking even more emotion.

Much of the movement is outstanding. Whether they’re making up John D. Rockefeller’s sleigh (pulled by polar bears) or forming young Tommy’s vision of human-sized caterpillars, the cast synchronizes beautifully.

-The Austin American Statesman

It quickly becomes apparent that there’s something very different about this improv show.

[…]

The source material gives the show a naive and innocent feel, yet with deeply sinister undertones. The way the cast uses movement and contact feels like it’s headed toward dance at times, or at least toward something a little more experimental than the average improv show.

[…]

So the lights come down after a unique improv show, and one is left to ponder the question the show asks: Who Is T. Henry Baudecliffe? They’ve presented a documentary and some of his work. They’ve shown us what they imagine a full story might look like. But they don’t ask the question that one can’t help but wonder. How real is what we’re experiencing? The answer is another question: Does it matter? No. It doesn’t. The work stands on its own, regardless of who T. Henry Baudecliffe is.

-The Austinist

Come experience the show for yourself. Who is T. Henry Baudecliffe? runs every Saturday at 8PM through August.

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Improv for Dog Trainers

Tuesday on her 1st birthday

Roy Janik, Artistic Director and dog owner here.

A while ago, my wife and I got a puppy. A cute, little crazy puppy.

We knew right away that she was smart… she learned how to sit on command almost immediately. We just had no real idea how to train her. So we went with a professional… Austin dog trainer Steve DeBono.

He taught Tuesday (our dog) how to stay, how to heel, how to jump through hoops (really!), and most importantly, how to listen and pay attention to us. It was invaluable.

So I was thrilled when Steve signed up for improv classes, at The Hideout because it meant that I could share improv with him in the same way he shared his dog-knowledge with me.

Steve has recently started blogging for Dog Star Daily, and for his very first post he wrote about his experience in level one at The Hideout. Here’s an excerpt:

STUCK IN A RUT? TAKE AN IMPROV CLASS!

There were about 15 people in the class. Each class would consist of a series of games. Our instructor would lay out the rules of each game, and we would play. Anytime someone made a mistake or broke the rules, he or she was encouraged to proudly throw their arms to the sky, proclaim “I’VE FAILED!” and take a bow while the rest of the class applauded.

How liberating! To be encouraged to fail! And furthermore, to be applauded for failing!

[…]

A thorough knowledge of the rules of dog training is essential… the learning theory… the techniques. Knowing the rules is what makes us professionals. Just as important is the ability to be spontaneous and take risks while adhering to the structure of these rules. We can not be afraid to fail. We can not be afraid to make mistakes. When a mistake is made, we must acknowledge it, throw our arms to the sky and proclaim “I’VE FAILED!”. And do our best to never make the same mistake again.

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Organic Discovery

One of my favorite things in improv happened last night.

It was during the Level 3 graduation show. We pulled up two students for a game. I was going to give them Twin Pillars, where  we use two audience members to interject randomness into a scene.

But when the students came on stage, one of them, Andy, did something funny where he wound up looking like a spy trying to act casual. Inspired by that, we threw out the game we had planned, and said “Just use that energy when the lights come up”.

The scene that resulted had Andy standing there, looking like a nervous guy trying to act cool and casual. His attempts got more earnest as the scene progressed. One by one, all the other students walked into the scene, noticed that something was off about Andy, and exited.

Of course, the audience was dying to know, “What’s the deal with that guy?”. And as time went on, the question became more and more important.

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But Don’t Take Our Word For It.

Roy here.

I’ve been contemplating writing a blog post about 1) why you should see The Battle of the Sexes, which features two outstanding peformers from Dad’s Garage in Atlanta, and 2) why, if you’re an improviser, you should take the Dad’s Garage workshops.

But then it hit me. Far better than anything I could say would be the praise and accolades of those performers and fans who have worked with or seen the Dad’s Garage folks in the past.

So without further ado… If you’re still on the fence about seeing The Battle of the Sexes or taking the Dad’s Garage workshops, please consider the following:

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Interview with Kevin Gillese of Dad’s Garage

As you all know, we’re bringing two fantastic improvisers down from Dad’s Garage in Atlanta this weekend. In addition to teaching some workshops (spots are still left, by the way), Kevin and Amber will also be captaining the teams in The Battle of the Sexes Improv Showdown at The Long Center Saturday, July 17th. The Hideout recently interviewed Kevin (via email) to find out more about the Dad’s Garage style, the joy of TheatreSports, and the great improv longform/shortform debate. He was delightfully–and brutally– honest.

Hideout Theatre: You started out in Edmonton before you moved to Atlanta. Is there a noticeable difference in style between Canadian and American improvisation?

Kevin Gillese: RFT [Rapid Fire Theatre, in Edmonton] and Dad’s are so connected aesthetically, and have been for many years. I think that’s the reason that I feel like the improv is so similar. The truth is that every city in Canada has a different style, and I’m sure it’s the same with cities across the US. 

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