Heavy Metal Drummer: Michael Dolan of Rezuranger

Michael Dolan is a Level 2 student at ColdTowne and currently featured in our MainStage show, Rezuranger. He shared with us how he happened into classes, and–eventually–his role in our Saturday MainStage production.

On July 22, 2016 I visited ColdTowne Theater to see my friend, Lisa Williams (Family Meeting), perform with her troupe The High Five at a CageMatch (now Throwdowne) show vs. Rezurangur. That was the first time I got to see Chris Baldenhofer and Delaney Jo Hernandez perform. I was so impressed that night by Chris and Delaney to make two person scenes much fun! I didn’t realize it then, but Delaney and I had actually been camp counselors in 2008 for a youth retreat, and it was awesome to reconnect with her. I also remember thinking Kevin killed it that night during the performance with The High Five.

That show made me realize I wanted to do improv and couldn’t keep putting it off. I was still unsure about signing up for classes. I remember the two reasons I went ahead and did it: 1) I met Michael Jastroch during the 10 year anniversary weekend and remember thinking he was super witty and his characters were amazing. He’s a great teacher. 2) Kara King told me I wasn’t that funny in the ping pong/domino room at the Grand, so I had to prove her wrong. I signed up for Level 1 in the Fall 2016 class start.

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Dolan in Rezurangur press photo.

Towards the end of my Level 1 class, I saw that Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee was looking for improvers and musicians with a specific request for a good drummer. It was the perfect show for me since I’ve been a drummer for almost twenty years and played in a metal band called Uglytwin for almost 3 years. I knew it was my destiny.

After a very nerve-wracking audition with Kristin Henn and company, I was very unsure about getting into the show because I didn’t talk much during my multiple person scenes. Like everyone, I’m my own worst critic. On top of that, I saw a ton of excellent performers at that audition.

About a week later I remember getting the e-mail from Kristin announcing that I had been cast for the show. I was so ecstatic that I immediately started to send friend requests to every member of the show on Facebook, just to see who all was in the show with me. When I saw Chris, Delaney and Kevin, I was super excited to work with all of them, since they were all part of the reason I invested in classes at ColdTowne. I had the chance to see a lot other cast members in Rezurangur perform at ColdTowne, and now—having had a chance to work with them—I’m certain this is one of the best groups of people I’ve ever had the chance to share a stage with.

Now, as a Level 2 student, and about to move into Level 3, I am so excited to keep going through classes, and eventually graduate. I love this community of people and always enjoy watching every show especially Missed Connections ATX, Loverboy, and Damn Gina. Come see Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee!

Michael Dolan is an Austin native and has been a student at ColdTowne since 2016. He’s a drummer with 20 years’ experience of many different genres. He’s a beauty school dropout, graduate of Texas Bible Institute and doesn’t use any of that knowledge at his job doing Software Quality Assurance.

He’s performed in the Bit Show and now with Rezurangur: An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssee Sat. nights at 8:30pm only at Coldtowne Theater from March 4th through April 8th. $10 online, $12 at the door. Buy tickets here.

Bad Ass Producer: Lindsey Moringy of “The Do Over”

Lindsey Moringy is #purehustle.  From producing sold out festivals (BettyFest) to packaging sold out show runs, (there’s also that little music festival she produces, too), she’s a powerhouse of strategy and execution. Also: She’s really funny. As The Do Over wraps up its run, we asked her to school us on how she approaches being a producer and to see why she’s just so dang good. 

Tell us about your background in performing and producing.

Lindsey Moringy, She puts the "pro" in producer

Lindsey Moringy, She puts the “pro” in producer

I’m a graduate of ColdTowne’s Conservatory, and am currently taking more improv classes at The New Movement. I also am one of the producers of BettyFest, an annual comedy festival that celebrates women performers. By day you can find me doing digital marketing for some of your favorite music festivals. By night you can find me performing with:

  • The Do Over (every Saturday in January, 8:30pm at ColdTowne!)
  • SheSheSheShe (see us 2/28 at ColdTowne  in SHE! True Hollywood Story!)
  • Stool Pigeon (see us at ColdTowne every Sunday at 8:30pm!)
  • Baby Bob Saget (lol we play wherever people want to see us)

I WILL NEVER NOT USE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR SHOW PROMOTION AND YOU SHOULDN’T EITHER, READER FRIEND!

How did you get started?

I started taking improv classes to have an excuse to turn off my brain and force myself to have fun once a week, and I really fell in love with Austin comedy and the people who do it. I basically realized I had no hobbies, and that I was letting work stress me out all the time. I told myself that I wouldn’t join any troupes (tbh I was scared no one would want me), but then during Level 2 at ColdTowne I was asked to be in SheSheSheShe with my main babes Megan Mowry, Laura de la Fuente, Linzy Beltran, Stephanie Ard, and Jessica Vasami. I’m SO grateful they asked me to join and that they have constantly supported me ever since. Now I know so many incredible fellow improvisers who allow me to be a big ol’ dummy in front of random strangers and sweet friends on a regular basis, and that’s strangely empowering.

Tell us about the show. How did you come up with the concept?

The Do Over (FREE Deep Eddy Vodka – THIS Saturday at 8:30pm!!) is really the brainchild of a group of people, not just me. It’s also an Adam Sandler movie available on Netflix, but we didn’t know that was coming out when we first titled the show – luckily, I’d say we won that battle. My two boyfriends, Linzy Beltran (comedy boyfriend) and Aaron Walther (real life boyfriend) helped me refine the idea and build the cast.

You see, I’m a bigtime worrier. I have had a lot of moments in my life that I wish I could do over: the passive/shy way I’ve reacted to sexist remarks, not applying for out-of-state colleges,  not eating breakfast this morning, etc. I figured other people must have similar thoughts, and that it would be fun to build a show that focuses on what your life MIGHT have been like had you made the other decision, if you had one do over. Viewing yourself in an alternate reality can be fun and also terrifying, but always entertaining.

I pitched the idea to Will Cleveland who at the time did not know me. He agreed to direct the show, and I’m so glad he did – it wouldn’t be the same without him. He helped guide the cast into creating the form that the show ultimately took. He keeps us grounded and relatable. Emoji prayer hands.

What is your approach to producing? What’s a definite do and don’t?

My main secret is that I always bring La Croix to rehearsals. No one will ever be dehydrated on my watch!

DO: Trust the people you pull into your show to do a good job with it.

DONT: Get so trapped in your own head about producing a show that you forget to have fun when you’re performing. Also, don’t be stubborn about your idea because it’s going to morph with other people’s input and turn into something even better than you could have ever imagined.

Complete this sentence “a good producer is _______ and ________.”

Receptive and Creative.

What’s next for you? Are you particularly excited about any upcoming projects?

Ronnita Miller and Xaria Coleman of Damn Gina perform

Ronnita Miller and Xaria Coleman of Damn Gina perform at BettyFest, 2016

I’m going to be working on BettyFest (follow us on Facebook and Instagram @bettyfestatx!) and performing as much as I can, because at the end of the day that’s why I’m here. Not to force show promotion on you 24/7, but to have fun with my frahnds. Oh, and I’m def going to catch Damn Gina’s show Night Watch when they take over the main stage slot at 8:30pm every Saturday in February – they are unstoppable.

Don’t miss the final weekend of The Do Over, this Saturday (1/28) at 8:30pm.

Improv encourages, and is elevated by those of completely different backgrounds, race, age, gender identification, sexual orientation... Through improvising and learning improv, we get to discover what we have in common with each other, and how different our perspectives are.

Teacher Spotlight: Nathan Sowell#

Announcing the Jan – June ’17 Mainstage Schedule!

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As a year of bang-up, award-winning programming comes to a close, we are excited to announce the selections for the ColdTowne 2017 Mainstage, from January through June 2017.

All the Mainstage shows are Saturdays at 8:30pm.

The 8:30 Mainstage shows are:
January 7 – 28
The Do Over
Produced by Lindsey Moringy
Directed by Will Cleveland
The exciting return of The Do Over, a show that asks what would happen if you could revisit decisions, small and large.

February 4 – 25
Damn Gina! presents Night Watch
Produced by Damn Gina!
Directed by Erica Lies
Part police procedural, part Interrogation, Night Watch is produced by the B. Iden Payne award-winning Damn Gina!, Austin’s first all-black, female improv group.

March 4 – April 8
Razurangur – An Improvised Heavy Metal Odyssey
Directed by Cody Dearing
Produced by Kristen Henn
From the director of Slaughter Your Shorts (2014) and Buddies! (2015) and the producer of Gardenalia (2016) comes a comedy that follows a heavy metal band both on and off stage.

April 15 – May 6
La Frontera Final (The Final Frontier)
Directed by Mical Trejo and Ben Bazan
Produced by and Starring The Prima Doñas
The Prima Donas, an all-Latinx comedy team presents this improvised comedy about space travel and their fateful return to earth. Unscripted and presented in a combination of English and Spanish.

May 13 – June 17
The Last Video Store
Directed and produced by McNichol & May
From two-time “Best of the Fest” winners McNichol & May, The Last Video Store centers on the personalities that work and patronize a beloved video store as it reckons with its relevance in the digital age. Inspired by Cheers, Spaced and High Fidelity each show uses elements from famous independent films.

Tickets for each show will be made available in the weeks prior to the opening of the show.

Stay tuned for the Saturday 7pm line up and season tickets!

 

 

ColdTowne 10th Anniversary: Weekend Line Up (Oct 20th-23rd)

Celebrating 10 years of the next big thing in comedy with four days of sketch, improv and standup from favorite performers past and present.

Evenings sponsored by our friends at 4th Tap Brewing Co-opCrystal Creek DistilleryShiner Beer and Tito’s.

2006: There was no iPhone, W. was president and the only comedy clubs in town had a two drink minimum. After a series of test runs, five comedy nerds opened a theater in a dusty store room in the back of a video store. It was put together with salvaged lumber, chairs and $400 they had pooled from the FEMA payouts they received after Katrina. Ten years later, ColdTowne has graduated over 455 students and performers, runs more than 21 shows Monday thru Sunday and welcomes over 800 audience members per week. this weekend, ColdTowne will turn ten years old, celebrating with a specially curated line-up of best-of and reunion shows.

See you here!

Get your all-weekend badges here (includes limited edition, commemorative t-shirt with art from Carlos LaRotta).

coldtowne10_weekend-schedule

SHOWS: DAY 1 – Thursday, October 20th (ColdTowne)

8:30pm: Parallelogramophonograph (Hideout – ATX), The Knuckleball Now (ATX), Opposites (TNM – ATX)
buy-tickets
10pm: All-Time Greatest Sketch, hosted by Bryan “Lubu” Roberts (ATX/NY)
buy-tickets
11:30pm: The Roast of Steve Scott, from “What’s the Story Steve?” (ATX)
buy-tickets

SHOWS: DAY 2 – Friday, October 21st (ColdTowne)

7:00pm: Movie Riot (LA/ATX), Glamping Trip (LA/ATX), Toxic Chakra (ATX/CHI)
buy-tickets
8:30pm: Bad Boys (ATX/PORT), Elevator Action (LA/ATX), Big Beautiful Warlock (ATX)
buy-tickets
10pm: Live at ColdTowne with Carina Magyar: Erik Krug, LaShonda Lester, Matt Bearden & Chris Cubas (Standup)
buy-tickets

11:30pm – 9:30am Saturday: 10 Hour Comedy Lock-in (See Calendar for shows)

SHOWS: DAY 3 – Saturday, October 22nd (ColdTowne)

7:00pm: Nice Astronaut (ATX/HOU), Oh, Science! (LA/ATX), After Midnight (ATX)
buy-tickets
8:30pm: The Frank Mills (CHI/ATX), Control-Alt-Delete (NYC/ATX), Sugar, Water, Purple (ATX)
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10pm: Midnight Society (NYC/ATX/LA), ColdTowne (ATX/NOLA)
buy-tickets

SHOWS: DAY 4 – Sunday, October 23rd (Spiderhouse Ballroom)

7:00pm: All-Star Stool Pigeon with monologist Patrick Terry of P. Terry’s. Hosted by Mac Blake (ATX/NYC/LA)
buy-tickets

9pm: ColdTownie Awards (Open to the public) – With ticket to All-Star Stool Pigeon at 7pm

Midnight Society: Don’t Call it a Comeback

Midnight Society formed in 2007, and have since built a reputation among audiences and improvisers for the quality of their work. With shows that can deliver grounded scene work, absurdity and raucous physicality in the course of a single show, their command of the stage is never in doubt.

Recently adding super talents Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao, they’re experiencing a new wave of attention and regularly packing it in Saturday nights. We sat down to talk to them about their history, favorite shows and adding cast.

Tell us about how and when Midnight Society formed.

Lance: Midnight Society was the second student troupe formed at ColdTowne in 2007. This means that we each auditioned and the theater selected the members. We were lucky enough to have been put on that one student troupe that stayed together more than a year or two. The group has been through a lot of changes, but have the same excitement for playing that we had nine years ago.

Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

An early version of Midnight Society at Out of Bounds. Photography by Roy Moore (ahpook667)

Who, among the current cast, are the original members?

Lance: Lance Gilstrap, Jericho Thorpe, and Joel Keith are all original members.

What does the current cast look like? Why were those cast members chosen?

Lance, Joel, & Jericho: The current cast includes those aforementioned original players plus Molly Moore and Sanjay Rao. Molly was chosen because she makes brave choices and backs them up. She is goofy as hell, but also great at listening and calling out absurdities.

We picked Sanjay because he’s got serious stage chops. He commits to game like a monster and brings full emotion to absurd choices.

But we mostly picked both of them because they’re SO funny and we have so much fun playing with them. We click.

Who inspires you, individually or collectively?

Molly: I am inspired by people who look like they’re having a lot of fun being with each other on stage. I think joy and engagement are the most translatable energies both between performers and out into the audience, so when I see groups able to really harness that, I am one happy camper.

Sanjay: I get inspired all the time. There are great improv shows happening all the time and with the internet you can catch great stuff that happens in other cities too. I love Fuck That Shit from UCB and Cook County Social Club from iO. But I also get inspired by movies, television, and books. I love watching great acting and great characters. Lately I’ve been really into Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill the Butcher, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, and Ian Mckellen as Macbeth. It changes all the time but I get really excited when I get into something new. Who knows what it will be next?

What is a favorite memory?

Lance and Jericho: We have so many favorite memories (The “Comet Creepers” Show, That time Jericho lifted and then threw the entire cast using the force, etc…), but we thought it would be more fun to ask the two newer members.

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Jericho uses his powers. – OOB 2013.

Molly: My favorite memory is when we were all 9th graders in a band classroom and Lance realized that he forgot to get his permission slip signed for our band trip to like, Fiesta Texas or something, and we all realized that we forgot ours too and everyone freaked out on stage and in the audience. It was like everyone was experiencing the same collective memory with a great singular howl of regret.

Sanjay: I’m fairly new to the group but I already have some great memories with Midnight Society. The first thing that comes to my mind is a mono scene we did where we were working at a restaurant. Our suggestion was Pokemon Go. The show had nothing to do with the game up until about halfway through when Joseph Dailey mentioned people were coming in here just to play Pokemon Go and not ordering any food. In response, Lance Gilstrap, who was playing the owner of the restaurant, created a sign that said something like “You can’t catch a pikachu unless you take a seat and chew!” and not only did the audience lose it but I lost it as well and I’ve always felt I was pretty good at not-breaking during shows. I couldn’t help myself.

Why should someone see your show?

Molly: Parking is very easy, beer is very cheap, we’re very cute, flirty, good listeners and honestly I don’t know what else you could want from a Saturday night.

Sanjay: Midnight Society has been a staple in the AIC for so many years. Molly and I have brought in some new blood and our rapport has been quite honestly amazing. We’ve been putting on some amazing shows. So if you want to see some great improv at a great venue on a Saturday night then I guarantee you Midnight Society will not disappoint. We’re getting such good feedback with the stuff we’re doing on stage that I’m so excited to play every Saturday night.

Lance: Honestly, I think you should just come to see us for Molly and Sanjay.

Midnight Society plays Saturdays at 10pm each week* and will perform in the 10pm time slot on Saturday, 10/22 in the Anniversary weekend lineup #coldtowne10.

*Toxic Chakra will play for MS on 10/8.

BettyFest Interview with Patio Talk: A Legendary Improv Troupe who Happen to be Female

BettyFest was founded in 2014 by Patio Talk (Chrissy Shackelford, Juliet Prather, Amy Wright, and Kasey Borger), a comedy team based in New York City that originally formed at ColdTowne Theater in Austin, TX. Their members have been trained at UCB NY, iO Chicago, and of course, ColdTowne. We sat down with the ladies of Patio Talk to learn more about how they came together as a troupe, why they started BettyFest, and what their hopes and dreams are for the future of women in comedy.

AND SAVE THE DATE: BettyFest is an all-night-long event happening on Friday, 10/14 at 6pm at Spiderhouse Ballroom, featuring all-female improv and sketch troupes. All ticket sales will be donated to SafePlace, so be sure you buy yours now: http://bit.ly/2b5PEYY

How did Patio Talk become a troupe? Can you give a little history on how it all started?

Juliet Prather: We were all obsessed with how the others played so we made a Cagematch team just to have fun and get a chance to play together. It felt like magic so we decided to never ever break up. I guess it’s important to note that unfortunately at the time none of us had gotten to really play with just women or had seen only women performing together that much, so we think that was a big part of what brought us together and what made Patio Talk feel (and still feel) so special.

Kasey Borger: We really came together like any cagematch team, we just really enjoyed each other’s style of play, respected the heck out of each other and wanted to have some fun. We didn’t intentionally set out to be a team of only women, but when we did we realized it actually played a big role in how we played together and probably the fact that we didn’t get to see that or be a part of it often made it feel so magical.

Chrissy Shackleford: We met up and decided to submit to cagematch. We met up at Spiderhouse cafe to come up with a name and landed on Patio Talk because we liked the format of opening with everyone on stage character matching. Our first rehearsal (or one of the firsts) was at Juliet’s place. We just sorta goofed around and did some scenes and I remember it feeling so fun and easy and I was so legitimately amused by everything everyone else was doing and that’s something that is really rare that we just stumbled upon – this insane on stage chemistry we all have together.

Amy Wright: We talked about the form at Spiderhouse and wanted to do something very easy and fun that was as freeing as a montague without it just being a montague. My favorite moment from one of our initial cagematch runs began with Chrissy as a single mom hosting a sad Christmas and ended with us all going to the mall to see our deadbeat dad playing Santa. We respect and love each other offstage and it translates into onstage chemistry that’s hard to find just anywhere.

Where did the idea for BettyFest come from?

KB & JP: There are so many nights when you can show up to a comedy theater and see a lineup of all male performers and no one bats an eye, because that’s just the norm. We wanted to create a night that made it seem like seeing a lineup of all women performers was just as normal. That idea inspired the original tag line “a night of comedy by comedians who happen to be female”. We wanted to make it seem like that was something you could just accidentally waltz into as an audience member and enjoy just as much, because guess what, you can and you should. We thought, wouldn’t it be ridiculous if a comedy event read “A Night of Comedy by Comedians Who Happen to be Male?” It’s completely unnecessary because it’s pretty much what someone would unconsciously expect to see at a comedy theater. We wanted to sort of point out the ridiculousness of it. Who cares if the performers are all women? Women rock lol. Our idea was to showcase some of the most talented comedians we knew and, whoops, they all happened to be female. We wanted to make sure that, yes, it was about women but not just “lol a night of women”, but a night of very talented women who are comedians first and foremost.

KB: One thing that really stuck with us was when a teacher came to see a cagematch show that happened to be two teams of women up against each other and commented that he noticed the energy in the room was different when it was a night of all women performing. That was important to hear for me because it illuminated how rare of a night this was that not only was it taken note of that it was all women, but it also truly felt different than other nights at ColdTowne. We wanted to bring that same energy again in a bigger way.

CS: Agree with everything said, one thing that was important to us was that on the actual night of the show there was really no mention of “ISN’T IT CRAZY THAT WE’RE ALL WOMEN?” or “HERE’S A NIGHT TO CELEBRATE WOMEN IN COMEDY!” It was just a killer show with big laughs.

AW: Also a large part of it was an effort to encourage more female-identifying teams to perform at ColdTowne. We wanted to motivate women who might not have played otherwise/women who might be new to the community/women who might have been a bit intimidated by the typically male-dominated scene to play together. We hoped BettyFest would inspire these teams to continue playing together after the show.

What was the first BettyFest like?

JP: So fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was good.

KB: It was the best!!!! The turnout and support really blew us away for being such a new run of shows. One thing that was so cool was to see women look around them in their classes or in their theaters and create teams of people they thought were talented, respected the heck out of, wanted to have a good time with and whoops! they were also all women. It was just great to see right in front of us a bunch of teams of women whereas our experience coming up in the theater was watching mostly teams of all men. This is not to say these teams wouldn’t have already come together or were already together, it was just really great to look at the submissions and see how many talented women there have always been in the community and then see them teaming up.

As far as actually creating the festival, we treated it very seriously and put a lot of work into the marketing and making a show that would sell out every night. We learned a lot from that and took what we did for the first show into the second and improved on that. It was a great learning experience, personally.

And as far as just the logistics of the show, it was the exact same as the second iteration and, if I’m not mistaken, this third iteration– with a stand-up and two improv teams comprised of all women.

CS: Dude, it was dope. It was the first time I had seen a show sell out so fast that we had to turn away basically a whole second audience the night of the show – which was a great marketing tool – because if you’re already at the theater and the show sold out then hey why don’t you just buy a ticket for next week’s show! Which was so rewarding because we all worked our asses off to produce that festival. We put so much time, effort, creativity, and money into marketing the shows and it was such a joy to see the theater straight up lit for the fest.

AW: It was so moving to see the support from the community. Everyone got hyped up and involved. We learned so much from the first year and, like Kasey said, we really tried to step it up for the second year. The photobooth idea we borrowed from Waterbed and it really made it feel like an event. It was also a great marketing tool because people started sharing BettyFest photos on Facebook and Instagram. It was sweet to see a bunch of people with profile pictures of them holding maxi pads and champagne for a while.

What do you hope for in terms of the future of BettyFest?

KB: I hope no boy identifying boys are ever allowed!!!!!! Lol jk! But seriously, I just hope that it keeps on truckin’ and everybody keeps on having a good time with it. It’s our lil bb and something that is still so important to us. It’s great and exciting to see it blown out so much this year and in such capable hands. Maybe my true hope is that it actually becomes so completely redundant because of how many nights a week women are playing in comedy theaters that it becomes a relic of comedy’s past??!!??? Idk I guess I have a lot of hopes and dreams.

CS: I’d love to start burning penises at the 10th annual BettyFest. I think it’s great that it’s moving over to a bigger venue – since that was the biggest problem we faced that very first year – high demand and not enough seats. I guess I hope that in its future it still means as much to everyone involved as it meant for us creating it.

AW: I hope to see BettyFest end sexism in comedy by the year 2035. If this does not happen, I’ll assume it’s bc no penises were burned or even singed just a little bit. I hope that more and more teams form and begin rehearsing in order to submit for BettyFest and then they eventually take over the scene and destroy all barriers and live full, happy lives.

What are you all up to now? Any plans on making a surprise appearance this year? 🙂

JP: We’re all doing the UCB thing and working on our own stuff, but we still play a lot together which is rad. I feel really lucky to have Patio Talk, and I think BettyFest was a big huge influence on the entire team and the love we have for each other. But no, no surprise appearances planned. Unless that was a sneaky invitation ??? Hehe.

KB: I am incredibly famous now and you can catch me in the hit TV show “Seinfeld” or signing autographs for my current autobiography ”Still Kasey After All These Beers”. If we do all make an appearance it will literally be a surprise to us all!!!

CS: I’m moving from Brooklyn to Queens soon so understandably that’s pretty emotionally taxing for me. I mean, I’m taking my brand from Lena Dunham to Leah Remini, for crying out loud. Other than that I’m still grinding away, I teach at UCB now and my “solo” comedy show just got picked up for a run at UCB Chelsea starting this fall which includes surprise performances from Kasey, Amy, AND Juliet….so basically Patio Talk will live forever.

AW: I’m filming a partly improvised film in Connecticut and then heading back to NY to continue with UCB classes. PATIO TALK FOREVER. TEXAS FOREVER. CLEAR EYES, FULL BEERS, STILL KASEY.

More on Patio Talk from the archives.

Congrats Cené, Danny and Dave!

ColdTowne Alumna/Alumnus Get Hired
We are late to the party, but are incredibly excited to announce that Loverboy’s Cené Hale was recently hired as a cast member for Boom! Chicago – Amsterdam, joining them in August. She follows in the footscene-300x200teps of former cast members such as Jordan Peele, Becky Drysdale and Seth Myers, to name a few. If you’ve seen Cené, you know what a talent she is. She’s already performing in the cast at Boom! and we enjoy living vicariously through her photos of thcatlow_dannye city.

Just recently, former student and Bad Boys founding member Danny Catlow was added to the cast of the Second City – Chicago tourco. Since arriving in Chicago a few years ago, he’s been seen all over Chicago and performs regularly at the revered Annoyance Theater.  We couldn’t be more excited for Danny and the recognition of his talent in a city filled with the good stuff.

Thank You Out of Bounds!
Closer to home, ColdTowne Executive Producer Dave Buckman recently wrapped up another hella successful Out of Bounds. We hope you made it to a show during the festival because it was boss for anyone with a propensity to laugh. Bringing Austin some of the finest acts from all over the world to your from doorstep for a jam-packed week might seem like magic, but that magic takes a lot of work, and along with a team of committed staff and volunteers, the producing team is responsible for pulling it all together.

Dave is a long-time member of the producing team along with Jon Bolden (Bad Boys, noted director), Roy Janik (Hideout Artistic Director) and leader Ruby Willman (LA-based producer and teacher). He has been key in booking many of the headliners that wow Austin-audiences each year and keeps the students and performers at ColdTowne supplied with inspiration and audiences supplied with good times. Thank you Dave and team!

Interview with Title Fine: We Got Game’s Laura de la Fuente

Title Fine: We Got Game is ColdTowne’s newest MainStage production. Featuring an all-female cast of eight players and one coach who play game-based improv in the off season, the cast is entirely composed of women who played sports in high school or college. We interviewed some of the cast to talk about their athletic experience and how they developed their characters for the show. We interviewed Laura de la Fuente of Express Yourself and all-lady super group SheSheSheShe to find out how she sported as a kid, and how she approaches her character, Madi “HAM” Bacon.

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi "HAM" Bacón,

Laura de le Fuente, who plays Madi “HAM” Bacón,

What sort of sports did you play as a kid? 
I played rec soccer in Plano, TX for eight years on a team that was really really dominant in our league for all eight years. We were called “The Phantoms”. And, before every game we would all put our hands in and say “ONE! TWO! THREE! (then whisper) *phantomssss*” Now that I think about it, that was a really creepy chant.  No wonder we won all the time.  That’s a good lesson – “Fear intimidates.”

I also played basketball and volleyball in middle school and softball as a freshman in high school. I did marching band in high school which is a hell of a workout in the Texas heat, so I’m adding this as a sport. I marched with the trombone, and I marched hard.

What is a favorite story from traveling with your squad? 
-While riding in the back of the bus trying to be a cool kid, the actual cool kids taught me how to make little baby feet in the foggy windows with your fists. I still make them whenever I’m in a car with foggy windows which I’m sure EVERYONE loves bc then when the fog subsides you have the cutest trail of little baby foot prints on your windows forever.

What drew you to this show? 
It’s a cast of bad-a** ladies led by a bad-a** lady coach. What more could you want?

How did you go about creating your character for the show? 

Laura de la Fuente as "HAM"

Laura de la Fuente as “HAM”

My character, Marisol (Madi) Bacón (but you can call me Ham), is loosely based on my softball coach in high-school who would say things  in a deliciously deep Texas accent like “Unhook the plow!” and “Five  minutes early is ten minutes too late!” Plus, I love how heartfelt she was about saying sports clichés like she was the first to ever say them, and her sincerity to loving softball as a way of life is something that’s in Ham for sure.

Do you think you’d be friends with your character in real life? 
Ham would make me laugh real deep, and I’d appreciate her sincerity with a fond heart, so yes.

Who do you think will like this show? 
Everyone.  Jesus, this cast is so funny and this show is so funny I seriously can’t think of a better way to spend every Saturday night at 8:30P in August and September than at ColdTowne Theater.

Freedom from PowerPoint: Talking Team Building with Michael Jastroch

Michael Jastroch is a founder of ColdTowne and has lead ColdTowne’s corporate training since 2006. We chatted him up about how he got started, his approach and why he thinks improv is a good tool for facilitating team work.

How did you get started helping teams?

jastroch

Team building consultant/facilitator, Michael Jastroch.

From the age of eighteen on, I stumbled my way into and through a variety of management positions, first as operations director of the country’s largest sailing programs and later as the managing editor of several print magazines in New Orleans. More recently, I was the Executive Director of ColdTowne Theater, where I helped wrangle a few hundred performers and teachers.

 

(Sailing, print media, and improv. Say what you will about me, but I definitely have a nose for growth industries.)

In 2003, I started taking improv classes to become a comedian and accidently reaped a ton of professional benefits. The core principles of improv – positivity, trust and empathetic listening – work in tandem to help create an egalitarian work environment, where teams are empowered to take bold risks and work together to find creative solutions to problems.

Cultivating those principles in myself over time transformed my management style. I found that by listening and saying “yes” more often than I say no, my teams became adaptable and motivated. More importantly, my outlook changed from work being a slog to something I could look forward to.

How do you approach a custom training or team building?
We design our programs around the specific challenges facing the company – e.g. if a sales team is having trouble with discovery, we use improv tools to help them stay present with the prospect or client. But, my “real” job is to create an environment where the team can cultivate  better communication on their own. To learn how to be a better teammate, and in the end, learn how to be a better person.

Why ColdTowne?
I take a great deal of pride in the facilitation the ColdTowne team does for companies. From small boutique design firms, to large organizations with thousands of employees, I’ve seen first hand the transformation that occurs when people stop fighting and start genuinely listening to each other.

Any favorite memories to share?
One of my favorite memories is when the entire Whole Foods regions adopted a “Yes, And” rule for their meetings, making a commitment to stay positive and build on each other’s ideas instead of doing our usual default “that could never work.” It was transformative to them.

Why improv?
Improv provides the necessary practice to unlock our best selves.

Also, it’s a lot of fun and there are no PowerPoint presentations.

Interested in talking to Michael about your upcoming team event or company gathering? Email him at coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com.

Beware of Female Spies each Saturday in January

Inspired by the shows Archer, Alias, Veronica Mars, Torchy Blane, and Get Smart, Beware of Female Spies is an improvised comedy take on the classic spy genre with a romantic screwball comedy twist.

At America’s top spy agency, Special Patriotic Operations Over Foreign Secrets, a whip smart female spy is the top agent. Unfortunately her fellow agents of S.P.O.O.F.S. aren’t always seeing the mission in the same way. Each week she must fight calculating villains and patriarchal double standards as well as the sexual tension between herself and her male counterpart.

Starring: Seth Johnson, Nicole McCracken, Alejandro Garcia, Liz Dykes, Aaron Walther, Taylor Overstreet, Brett Tribe, Chrissy Shackleford, Sanjay Rao, and Ashley Nugent. Directed by Emma Holder. Produced by Seth Johnson and Katie Thornton.

Beware of Female Spies plays at 8:30 every Saturday in January at Coldtowne Theater. $7 and BYOB.

Discounted Improv Class Holiday Gift Packages Now Available!

This holiday season we want to make improv classes as affordable as possible.

We genuinely believe that improv classes can change a person’s life. It certainly has for all of our students, performers, staff, and faculty, and it seems like each day we see a new piece of writing espousing its benefits