The Opening Agenda for 2016

DrawnDeadCrowdJan16Happy New Year.

Every year is the harbinger of bigger and better things for everyone. So to say I have big plans for 2016 is nothing special. If anything, not having high hopes for the new year could be a cause for concern.

To take a page from Michael Linenberger, here’s a quick three part breakdown what I’m up to in three parts, split between right now, the coming weeks, and overall for the new year.

Here and Now:

I had so many colleagues in Chicago ask me about producing the show in Chicago that I went ahead and made it happen: I am bringing Drawn Dead to the Crowd Theater starting this Wednesday at 8pm. The show will run every Wednesday at 8pm in January. Tickets will be $5 at the door.

It’s going to be a challenge to draw an audience outside of interested peers, because I’m directly up against the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, which is running this month. Not that I’m competing directly with any shows, but the promotion of those shows is so intense that any outside promotion I do will get lost in the ether. It helps that I’m running a centralized midweek 8pm show with a simple $5 ticket price. But I expect to hear a lot of excuses from performers and peers who can’t attend due to the Festival.

That said, this is a physically challenging show for me to do, and I’ve got many other projects I want to work on. So after this I don’t plan to produce Drawn Dead in Chicago again, unless someone offers me a sizable sum of money to do so.

January 27 will be your last chance to see the show in Chicago, but you can see it beforehand (like this Wednesday, or January 13, or January 20).

The next month:

I have spent the last few months studying both writing and performance in improv and sketch comedy, and have not only noticed opportunities to improve the practice experience for improv… but noticed that there’s no real opportunity for ongoing practice in improv-generated sketch comedy. While you can train with Second City’s Conservatory, and get cast in sketch shows, unless you’re with a group that is constantly producing shows there’s no place to regularly practice those skills.

I have developed a template for an approach to practicing improv and sketch comedy that I’d like to experiment with and develop over the next month. I call this the Sketch Improv Project (SkIP for short) and tentatively plan to begin holding free weekly workshops next month. During these workshops I will practice improv and character exercises and scenework, as well as using these approaches to create sketch comedy… but ALSO to use scripted sketch comedy to help develop character range and performances in improv, similar to the approach behind Dell’Arte and other role playing theatrical exercises.

I have posted for improvisers a survey asking for times that work best for everyone’s schedules. After receiving a few dozen responses it appears there are a mix of workable times during the week.

So once these workshops begin I will likely hold one each month, during each of these potential times. This will allow the widest scope of interested players to participate.

Obviously, if you are a Chicago improviser (or soon to be Chicago improviser) and are interested in participating, please fill out the form. You are also welcome to email me for more information: misterstevengomez at Gmail.com

The long view of 2016:

Presuming SkIP progresses well and quickly, there’s the possibility of producing sketch shows during the coming year. It would be terrific to produce one or two sketch shows from this project, possibly more if strong progress results.

This project aside, I also have my existing groups and projects:

Sosa Mimosa, my Comedy Clubhouse improv team, which performs every couple weeks (Friday 10:00pm… next show is January 15). Since day one back in mid-August we’ve had consistently decent shows and been slowly getting better week over week, though it’s challenging given we always share the bill with two exceptionally funny groups (Lance Chance and Lucky Lucky) whose excellent comedy easily overshadows us. But we focus on giving the best show we can do, and continue to improve.

– Sam and Elden, my long form sketch duo with Elliot Northlake: We’re seeking a regular (weekly, or close to it) opportunity to produce work, even just a 7-10 minute slot every week or two within an existing show. We’re looking to move past sporadic gigs and appearances, and I may even produce a regular variety show if that’s what it takes to get us regular stage time.

– No Pay Internship, my barnstorming improv group with Annoyance peers: We’ve proposed and are looking into producing a run of our own shows before the Spring. At the least we’re looking to perform once or more a month. (They will in fact be opening for Drawn Dead on January 13!)

– Once Drawn Dead’s Chicago run concludes, I plan to ramp up writing and development on my next solo show, tentatively titled Murderous Rage. It’s about pro wrestling, more specifically a big monster heel with a not-so-monstrous personality, in danger of losing his championship role to backstage politics. I have a lot of solid groundwork done on this, and am confident it can become a full show before the summer.

– I’m also wrapping up study with the improv programs with iO Chicago and Annoyance during this first three months. Once these Chicago rites of passage are completed, this should free up my schedule a great deal.

So, I have a lot I want to do in 2016. My first couple of months will be quite busy.

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