The Show Begins

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31st, 2009 by kellinewby

It’s a lazy, rainy day, though if the rain gives me the excuse to stay inside and lay around and relax,I don’t mind it at all; I’m sure others of us that have the luxury of a day off today are taking it.  Last night we had our first paying audience and it went well.  Although we’re still in preview and still working a few things out, it feels so nice to know that show is up and running on its own now.  After all the work, all the worrying, all the troubles we ran into on this show, the relief one feels knowing the show can stand on its own is a wonderful thing.

Last night we learned a few things about knots (the sails from the prologue wouldn’t come down and we had to stop the show two minutes in and bring a ladder on stage), but that’s live theatre, and that’s what previews are all about.  We’re also trying to figure out some circuit problems with the lights.  After the show, over beer, we talked about electricity (dimmer packs, cables, twofers, source fours, breakers, circuits).  Sure, it was shop talk, but there were a lot of people working together to solve a problem, and a lot of people learning a lot about how lights work.  The experts and the merely curious all working together–it was the kind of conversation that makes me really proud of our little theatre company.

Tonight is another preview, and we have one Saturday and one Sunday.  Come see a work in progress (and nearly done).

Preview!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23rd, 2009 by kellinewby

After some discussion, we have decided to make the first weekend of Twelfth Night  all previews.  This means the shows will have a reduced price ($10.00 in general, $5.00 for students).  In return, we ask the audience to bear in mind that what they are watching are (very good) dress rehearsals, but not yet the finished product.  Some actors may call for line.

So, take advantage of this deal and come see us preview weekend.  It will be great for us to have an audience and it will easy on your wallet. Click here to make reservations.  Remember, as we only seat fifty, we highly recommend reservations, especially on pay what you can nights.

Shows will be Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00 this upcoming weekend.  See you there!

RBIT at the Providence Improv Fest

Posted in Improv, Past Shows, RBIT, Summer 2009 on July 20th, 2009 by mtrainor

As we take our last breath and hold it in anticipation of Twelfth Night’s opening, here’s part one of a two-part post on The Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe’s recent voyage to Providence, RI for the Providence Improv Festival.

We arrived in Providence the day of our show, on Saturday afternoon. We were scheduled to perform at 7:00pm at their AS220 theater. The festival had been running for two fulls days already, beginning on Thursday.

We checked into our hotel; nearly all of the troupe stayed at the excellent Hotel Providence (Seth stayed with a friend from the area – he grew up near Providence. He actually wrote the book on the place). After check-in and exploring the area, we grabbed some food and ambled over to the theater which is just a few blocks from the hotel in the “arts” district. There were lots of beautiful old buildings converted into galleries or performance spaces, including the festival’s spaces: AS220 and the Perishable Theater. These are just around the corner from Trinity Rep.

We arrived at AS220 and were greeted by a really sweet festival staffer, and the cool tech guy (Mike), who got us set up tech-wise and showed us the stage and backstage area (in the basement). We also met the frazzled but charming Mauro – the artistic director of the festival. He made us feel at home (we’re accustomed to the “frazzled and charming” types here at RBIT).

The space probably held around 80 people or so. It was bare when we arrived: a medium sized black room with a raised stage opposite the windows at the store front. We did tech as they set up the chairs.

We were paired to perform with a group from North Attleboro, MA, called Speed Of Thought Players. We first met their master-of-ceremonies type guy backstage: Christian. He’s known as “the Mouth”. Really nutty, witty guy – I figured he did stand-up, too. Anyway, he started shaping a plan with us on who was going on when, where and how, which was eventually overruled by Festival staff (Christian kept pointing out how he didn’t have a right to organize anything – yet, he had so many ideas. I liked him a lot).

Here’s how the festival told us it was going to work: each group had a half hour of stage time. Each audience member had a score card, which they would use to rate each group on a scale of 1 through 5. We weren’t competing directly with the Speed Of Thought Players exactly, but we were competing to get into the finals (six groups would be picked to compete in the final of the 25 or so total groups). The winner of the fest would be crowned “Best Improv Troupe in New England”. I think many of the audience members had seen several acts already, as most of them looked to be wearing festival lanyards with pases in them.

I think effectively turning every audience member into a critic took its toll psychologically on several members of our troupe of tender-hearted Berkshirians. More on that in a bit.

This is not the usual Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe gig, and we decided to play partly because it wasn’t our normal thing. Not that we didn’t miss the good cheer of our regular audiences in the Berkshires, but we were intrigued to play in front of a group of total strangers and see how it went. Plus – we were keen to see how we measured up against other groups. Living in the relative vacuum of Berkshire county we sometimes feel a little isolated (as others surely must), and we were looking to be de-pressurized, so to speak.

Our only supporters in Providence were Liz and Charlie (they rode with us), and a couple of friends of Seth’s from the area: Sarah and Allison. Between the four of them, they provided more emotional support than Mother Teresa would have (I heard she hated improv).

Anyways, I, personally, had a couple of beers before the show. It really helped me mellow out and enjoy watching the group who, it was decided, were going to perform ahead of us. It also gave me a little distance to see the terror in my fellow RBITers eyes when we witnessed them kick ass on the stage.

I’ll say again – this wasn’t a normal RBIT gig. Our time on stage was greatly compressed (we usually play for an hour and a half). We happened to be missing a key member of our troupe: Barby. A last minute flu bug laid her up – she was at home. That was a pretty big blow, as she’s one of the most reliably funny and talented players.

But there’s more – due to a technical issue, we could not play our *key* first game we normally play in our shows: the Dance. In the Dance, we play snippets of music of various kinds over the PA and each member of the troupe leads the other in a dance of their choosing (with other troupe members mirroring the “dancer”). We take turns as the dancer – when the music strikes us. This is an important first game in my opinion, because the energy is usually very high (we get a work-out) and it serves as an introduction to each member of the troupe through their dance. You can tell a lot about a person from watching them dance around goofily.

So, we were a bit nervous. We had to play against a really sharp group with the audience behind them while we had a couple of major factors well outside of our comfort zone. And RBIT is used to comfort. Luxury, even (take note, bookers).

We kept watching SOTP – I kept drinking. The audience kept laughing – I got another beer. I glanced at Lex’s shaking hands – swig. Frank gesturing frantically for a troupe huddle to try to reconfigure something in our act – chug. In my mind at the end of SOTP’s set, I could see each audience member laughing to themselves at the genius they had just witnessed and checking off the big “five-star” rating. Then they’d glance up from their card with a “let’s see if these guys can measure up” smirk, arms crossed, waiting.

Would this be the gig where we would be booed in earnest – actually booed? My mind careened wildly through every possible scenario of what could happen next: I would throw up on the stage. Frank would pee himself. Lisa would lose it and attack an audience member to feast on their flesh. Paul would hump something to climax. Seth would smile at a baby. Lex would remove a piece of clothing because she was too warm (never happens).

SOTP were finished their set, and started to exit the stage. Big audience ovation. We were poised on the house left behind the audience – like a crazy, drunken cat about to pounce on a much larger animal. Would we manage to hold on? To slay the beast?

Stay tuned for part 2.

Special Thanks

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17th, 2009 by kellinewby

All these great people will be thanked in the program, but I wanted to give  special blog post to all those who donated time, food, talent and tickets to the fundraiser:

Special thanks to Michael Quinones, Gillian Jones, and RBIT for performing!

Also, thank you so much for your donations:

Raising Funds

Posted in history, Summer 2009, Twelfth Night on July 17th, 2009 by kellinewby

In the three years I’ve been involved with Main Street Stage, I have participated in three fundraisers.

The first, a dinner and a show ticket for $50.00 that involved a lot of preparation and catering for one weekend’s worth of Irma Vep performances, was a lot of work.  We had a cook station set up in the basement.  We blew a the fuses a couple of times.  Lex, who was also starring in the show, was running around trying to get the food ready too. It was good food and the lobby looked great, but the ticket price was high and we didn’t sell out the two shows as we had hoped.  In the end, after all the work, we made about fifty bucks.

After that fiasco, we decided to strike out in a different direction–a dance party.  I went to a city council meeting and we were approved for a one night liquor license.  Lex and I bought a keg (and considered driving to Mexico, but then returned to the theatre).  We had a DJ from North Hampton donating his services.  We charged $15.00, figuring it was a fundraiser and people might pay a little more.  We postered everywhere, talked it up.  But the attendance was low.  We made enough to cover the cost of the keg and we had a great time dancing, but, again, not much in the funds raised department.

This summer, before we even saw how little was available through grants and sponsorships (we’ve made a total of $250.00 from that drive), we knew that we needed a fundraiser to get us through Twelfth Night.  We had the age old discussion–do we do something fancy and expensive or cheap?     This evolved into a Woodstock style music festival, which would be a great  show for the community in and of itself.  But it’s hard to find an outdoor venue in North Adams where you can charge admission; believe me, we tried.

As the weeks passed, as we thought about past attempts to raise funds, Lex decided the simpler the better, and we had to agree.  The fundraiser was going to be two weeks before we opened and mounting a second show in the middle of the big show sounded less and less doable as the summer progressed.  We lined up two local musicians who have been very supportive of the stage (and who we adore as people and as musicians).  We got RBIT to perform. We rented the American Legion–who provide a cash bar as part of the rent.  The intern went around and got local restaurants to donate food and the cast made the rest.  It helps that we had a lot of foodies in the company.

We postered, we sent out press releases and we put ads on WNAW (something we’ve found has really upped attendance).  Then we waited.  And we worried.  Would people even know about it?  Had we done enough?  We kept getting bad news–Zombie Prom was opening that night, and Wild Oates was having some BBQ and it was a third Thursday in Pittsfield.  Even postering was difficult.  Usually you can find some space on a board, but there were several we couldn’t find any room on.

An hour before the doors were set to open, I went to pick up the tickets from Papyri and found not a single one had sold.  We had five reservations.  The dread I’d been feeling for a few days only got worse.   Lex shrugged and said, “As long as ten people show and we cover the rent for the space, the cast will have a good time and a night off.”

And then, at 5:30–people!  Lots of people!  I kept counting and recounting the money in awe.

So why did this one work?  We put less energy into it than any of the others.  We had less riding on it, I guess, and we catered more to families (the door price was only $12.00).  We had a really great raffle that raised over a hundred dollars.  We’ll sit down and get to have the meeting we’ve been wanting to have about a fundraiser for years–the “what went right?” meeting.  I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Yes, that’s the Redroom in Berkshire Living!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7th, 2009 by kellinewby

Follow this link to read the article.  Or, better yet, pick up a copy!

Rick Conety

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3rd, 2009 by kellinewby

rick-conety-head-shot

Redroom is one week from tomorrow, and we’re gearing up for comedian Rick Conety to join us.

Rick Conety has performed at many locations in Northeast, New York and New York City, including performing at Saratoga’s “First Night” New Year’s Eve celebration and in front of college and club audiences. Tired of all the toilet humor that he heard at open mics, Rick decided to build his act around the funny things that happen in every day life. “When you find out your parents are getting a divorce after 35 years of marriage the same day you were told at work you won’t get that raise you’ve been expecting, and some jerk put a dent in your car while you were in the market, and on top of everything else, you’re coming down with a really nasty cold, you just have to laugh.” His website address is www.conetycomedy.com.

Remember, this is the last Redroom before the end of August.