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Posts tagged with: improv

Changing the face of Goat

I have been neglecting to update this blog. Which is OK, since only everything has been happening… Sigh…

Nearly all of the more seasoned veteran improvisers I invited to join the group dropped out, all citing time concerns. The troupe gelled as myself, Indigo, Sabrina, and John.

We hired John Ratliff as a coach. During our first meeting, the idea of improvised Greek tragedy was scrapped. The reason for this was something John pointed out: The Greeks, in tragedy at least, put plot above all else, with character second. Character must come first in an improv show, or you die. Accordingly, the Greeks put character first in comedies. Small wonder that most improv shows are funny.

We’re still doing tragedy, but we’re not taking the Greeks as a model. Fuck the Greeks.

So, with Ratliff, we started working on relationship and character. For the first three or so rehearsals, we did not touch on format at all. No narrative. Ratliff made clear that once it came time to start talking about narrative, he was out. He didn’t feel qualified to coach narrative. Myself, I think he doth protest too much, since he does seem to understand what makes a story interesting. But if he’s not comfortable with it, we need to find a different coach, one who is comfortable with narrative improv.

In the meantime, Michael Ferstenfeld joined up and Sabrina dropped out.

So now we’re starting to scratch the surface of what our format is going to be. I’ve been pushing the idea of using masks for something — it was to have been the chorus when the show was going to be Greek. Perhaps now it can be for narration or something; I just feel masks are very powerful, theatrically, and I’d like to explore their use.

I’ve advertised for a new coach on the Austin Improv forum. I’m a bit surprised; I had expected to get maybe one response at the most. At the time of this writing we’ve had three, all from people who are, somewhat amusingly, in the same troupe. I feel very lucky to have this enormous pool of talent to draw from.

Rehearsals are on pause for the holidays. Order of business come the new year:

  • Get a narrative coach.
  • Find a fifth member — preferably female — to replace Sabrina.
  • Figure out our exact format, including what to do with those fucking masks.

We’ve submitted to the Free Fringe, a new slot the Hideout is trying next year, experimental stuff Thursdays at 10. We’ll see what we get.

Oh, and I’ve refined the logo a bit:

Goat logo

I guess that’s pretty much everything for now. I’ll try to update this blog more frequently.


Birthing a Goat

So, with the demise of my primary improv troupe, Three Hot Chicks, I decided to start a brand new one. All I had was a name: Goat.

The way I understand a troupe usually gets together is this: Two improvisers are talking, and one suggests forming a troupe. The other one agrees, and they start spitballing names of other improvisers they’d like to play with. Eventually enough of these other people have said yes, and a troupe is born.

My approach, then, may have been foolish. Unaware of how it’s usually done (despite this being how it was done with 3HC), I just made a list of people I want to play with. I eventually settled on five people (not counting myself), from varying backgrounds, who probably didn’t know each other. And I invited these people to have an informal get together at a coffee house.

All five people showed up! I was actually kind of flabbergasted. But then came the inevitable question: What are we doing here? And to that, I had, unfortunately, very little in the way of an answer.

I stumbled my way through my very vague vision for the troupe — that it would be called Goat, and do material that was based around the idea of tragedy, through the use of dark humor. Beyond that, I had a rough sketch for a format involving conspiracy theories. Nothing else.

To my relief, people started talking to each other, and to me, about what they’d like to do. My conspiracy idea didn’t seem to set anyone’s imagination afire, but one idea we kept coming back to was the idea of an improvised tragedy… perhaps something inspired by the Greeks.

(As an aside, did you know that of the thousands of tragedies performed in ancient Greece, only works by three writers survive? Those writers are Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides.)

It became apparent pretty quickly who was into the idea. Indigo doodled this:

Doodle of Goat logo

I liked it a lot, so I came up with an Illustrator version:

But of course a troupe needs more than a name and a logo, and what we really need is to play together. So next comes scheduling some sort of rehearsal or play session where we can just have fun. I intend to ask an outside observer to sit in and guide the proceedings, though I haven’t decided who just yet.

This blog will chronicle the development of this troupe. Hopefully there will be a lot more to say on the subject.