As I keep working on assembling everything we wanted to post from – and since – the Happy Hour with the Board, it became very clear that parts of the content were a little more “inside baseball” than the general public would be interested in and should be posted here so we could best address them to the intended audience.
Some of this may overlap the public summary of the Happy Hour as well – in case you’re tuning in on all frequencies – but I’ve tried my best to focus on the issues and information that most affect performers on our stage here.
Topics included in this post :
- Auditions and Casting
- Show Proposals
- Casting Paying Shows/Change to show pay
- Upcoming schedule announcements
AUDITIONS and CASTING: The least fun thing that we are going to do a LOT more of!
This was the big production announcement from the Happy Hour and it means there are many changes coming for shows, some big and some small – but the short version is that every HUGE show will hold auditions for the entire cast, every time.
This is a change from the past when we’ve had casts carry over from year to year and only needed to replace or supplement a couple of people in the cast – which is sometimes not worth holding wider auditions for, or just means really really poor odds for anyone that does audition.
The question that was asked several times was “what about shows like Star Trek?”
Yes. Every show that HUGE produces will re-audition the entire cast in open auditions every time it is put up going forward – it should not only help our casts keep pace with the changing group of improvisers in the Twin Cities* but will also improve commitment and engagement in those shows by addressing instances in which we have people holding a place in a cast, only to perform in two shows.
* I am posting the Happy Hour answers to the questions separately but this was part of a question on diversity as well – it’s impossible for our shows to reflect a more diverse performer population if we’re only changing 1-2 faces in each show every year. We need to do better about opening the door wider and more often…this is a start.
This will also mean some procedural changes for casts in some less-visible areas – like a slightly more formalized packet of information we can give to producers when shows are officially booked, the creation and deletion of Facebook groups for casts at the beginning and end of productions and a feedback form link that will go out at the end of the run.
SHOW PROPOSALS: We have been trying to find a way to help guide show proposals in terms of what we need to know and what we’re looking for – and what we are not looking for – at any given time in the process, as well as trying to do better about response times and clear response language.
** Everyone that had an open proposal in the system when we closed the form was promised a reply and 80% of the backlog has been addressed – which sometimes meant replying to groups that no longer exist, some people that had moved, etc. Some have lead to longer conversations about updating proposals. We promised something and want to make sure we’re delivering on it, even though it is very late **
We’ve taken a sharp turn away from genre proposals as a general rule – we had gotten a number of “an improvised version of my favorite show/movie” proposals and we are currently not putting more on our stage in the upcoming season – which doesn’t mean that we won’t ever accept genre submissions.
We love a genre framework to support and push great, fun improvisation from the performers, we are far less interested in simply using improv to try and replicate or create “wouldn’t it be cool if there was an episode of _____ that went like this?”
One uses the genre to push the improv, one uses improv in service of the genre….which can be a fine line to try and find with producers.
We’re far more interested in how it pushes the improvisation, the “what it brings out on stage” or “what is the meat of it” questions – using the Attenborough example, the idea of “a very physically inspired, sometimes abstract, performance” is unique in our lineup and far more interesting than simply trying to replicate or extend a popular tv show or movie without writing it.
What to focus your proposal on would be something like this – using BASSPROV as an example – knowing “there are two guys that are fishing” is helpful for us to get a feel of the tone, but really what we need to know is “will be a patient monoscene, focusing conversation between two characters that have a long history and learn about one another by deconstructing the ideas and concepts in the suggestions”
We don’t need to know about the fishing, we want to know about the improvising.
!! If you EVER have any questions about the process or your proposal at all – please email me and I am happy to clarify anything I can to help you put together your proposal !!
CASTING PAYING SHOWS/CHANGE TO SHOW PAY: We have made some more invisible changes over the last year that are worth posting just to let everyone know that they have happened, if nothing else. We are constantly making small adjustments that aren’t individually newsworthy but are all part of a daily effort to improve things for artists.
To that end we lowered the paying threshold of tickets sold for the 10:30pm shows earlier this year when we received our Operating Support grant – more support for the operations of the theater itself means less overhead weight borne by the artists and we can refocus some of that revenue back to the producers and performers.
We also made a rule some time ago about diversity of any cast that HUGE Theater sends out for a paid show, private event or corporate entertainment – these shows have typically been an area that we’ve lacked the capacity to produce ourselves so we’ve handed them off to groups that are ready, willing and able.
As we’ve gotten more systems in place to handle logistics, casting and the like, we are more able to assemble casts to send – those casts will default to being as diverse as possible as much as possible, meaning an all-white, all-male cast would only ever be sent out as a last resort so we are opening the door to (the small number of) paying opportunities to be an improviser as much as possible.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE: The November/December weekend shows at HUGE will feature Family Dinner on both nights again this year – produced and directed by Michael Ritchie
Fridays at 9:30pm will be Troubadour
Fridays at 10:30pm will be the Bearded Men with Up North
Saturdays at 9:30 The Mess returns
Saturdays at 10:30 is Blackout
We are very excited for the January opening of Throwback Night 2017 as well as the Saturday night 8pm return of OMG: Before We Got Our Ladybits!
KINGS will begin an extended run on Fridays at 9:30pm beginning in January
AND – we are very excited to announce that The Mustache Rangers are confirmed to return to HUGE on Friday nights at 10:30 this January and February!
Thank you so much for your patience – more will be coming very soon
Don’t forget to check the Performer Pages for news, updates and announcements.
See you in the spotlight!