ColdTowne is proud to support Acton Children’s Business Fair

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Mark your calendars for October 27th for the Austin Acton Children’s Business Fair, a one-day market that gives children theopportunity to discover their inner entrepreneur and showcase their very own businesses.

ColdTowne is a proud sponsor of this year’s business fair.  The free, family event is organized by a team of passionate entrepreneurs, teachers, mentors, and parents, who want our children to learn about entrepreneurship in a practical and fun way, and is sponsored by Acton Academy, the Acton School of Business, and the generous support of donors and volunteers.

The children participating are divided by three age groups: 6-9 years old, 10-12 years old, and 13-16 years old. The program is a unique opportunity for children to launch their very own startup business and build confidence in their capabilities.

Many of our ColdTowne Conservatory Level 1 improv students are business professionals who have to interact with clients and present projects and pitches. Our corporate offerings help build speaking and listening skills for business professionals, but ColdTowne also has a kids program too!

Excused Absence Comedy is the youth program at Austin’s ColdTowne Theater, offering a wide range of improv training and performance to kids and teens. Sure, Improv is a lot of fun. Creating characters and situations on the spot can be hilarious both for the performer and for the audience, and performing with others creates a bond and provides an opportunity to become a better communicator. However, the benefits of learning and practicing improv go far beyond unexpected laughs and a louder voice.

Learning to Listen
How often do you witness a child (or an adult!) who waits for another person to stop talking so they can express their own idea, rather than responding to what was said? Learning to listen and say yes to our collaborators allows us to build entirely new ideas together and to let go of controlling outcomes. For many, making our own ideas heard feels like a winning or losing situation. Improvisers learn that building an idea with collaborators doesn’t take away from their own creations, it’s an exercise in making something bigger than ourselves. Even when it’s silly. Particularly when it’s silly! Once we have learned to do this in class and onstage, it becomes easier to apply the same principles to our lives.
Conquering Perfectionism
In life, we want to be smart, interesting and, often to our detriment, correct. But this self imposed need to be right can create anxiety and, for many children, can lead to simply withdrawing rather than risk being wrong. We don’t just learn to listen we also support each other’s offers unconditionally. When you practice being wrong and meet with an enthusiastic “Yes, and!” it becomes much easier to take risks and to just get the words out.
Creating a Flexible Mindset
In an improv scene, we take whatever we find and we agree that it’s exactly as it should be, then we build a story together. It’s not always easy for people to let go of their sense that things must be only one way, but improv’s insistence that we take a flexible approach when creating together helps performers begin to instinctively look for new ways to do old things.
Learn more about Excused Absence here: https://excusedabsence.com/

Don’t miss the Acton Children’s Business Fair!

Date and Time

There are two events, the Acton Academy Open House and the actual Acton Children’s Business Fair.

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Saturday, October 27, 2018. 10:00am – 1:00pm

Acton Academy’s Open House

Thursday, October 18, 2018 6:00pm – 7:30pm.

Location

Acton Children’s Business Fair

Pease Mansion Lawn
1606 Niles Road
Austin, TX 78703

Acton Academy’s Open House

Acton Academy
2201 Alexander Ave
Austin, TX 78722

An Uncomfortable Woman: Read, Relate, Donate

Meghan Ross is a writer, producer, and comedian, and the host of the women-run late night show That Time of the Month (Teen Halloween episode is this Saturday at ColdTowne, featuring an all-teen girl lineup!). We sat down with Meghan to talk about her upcoming film, An Uncomfortable Woman.

 How’d you get to ColdTowne?

I moved to Austin 2 years ago from New York, where I had started performing comedy and completed my improv/sketch training at UCB, and ColdTowne was kind enough to give me a monthly spot on the schedule when I wanted to adapt That Time of the Month here (I’d previously been co-hosting it for 2 years in New York with Liisa Murray). This fall, I’m also directing and producing An Uncomfortable Woman, a dark comedy short film I’ve written with Sam Stepp.

You’re currently in pre-production mode for An Uncomfortable Woman. Can you tell us what inspired you to write and produce this project?

Every year, I make a resolution to film something I write, and every year, I procrastinate on that goal (does this make me relatable???). About a year ago, Sam and I started meeting up as writing accountability buddies, keeping each other in check on our own personal projects. During one of these meetings, Sam had just finished watching a disturbing amount of Lifetime movies on YouTube and we started discussing how they all have one theme in common: show women in pain, as a form of entertainment.

We were both drawn to the dark comedy genre, and it seemed natural to use that tone to depict someone going through some real shit, while using humor to cope with it. I’d found myself in one of those shit moments last year with the passing of my Aunt Dawn, who was like a second mother to me. I continue to use comedy to help me ride the ups and downs of the grief rollercoaster (which sounds like a failed idea for a Six Flags ride).

Our idea developed further when we honed in on a woman dealing with her own personal trauma, and at the same time, experiencing the everyday behaviors of a patriarchal society. We thought it’d be interesting to show what seem like trivial moments in the script (ex: a waiter putting his hand on her waist to brush past her) as much more eerie and exaggerated through cinematography, to convey the discomfort a woman feels internally, but might not be as obvious to others externally. And on top of everything that’s already happened to this woman (her mother passed away, she had to move back into her childhood home after the end of her engagement), she still feels like a third bad thing is lurking around the corner.

Tell us about the leading lady.

Robin Beltran as Dylan in An Uncomfortable Woman

The role of the lead character is played by Robin Beltrán, a Houston-based actress who also happens to be an amazing vegan chef and an all-around wonderful woman being! Our goal was to cast a WOC as the lead, because we wanted to flip the trope of an ethnically-ambiguous sidekick who serves a white lead character’s storyline and instead focus the story on the WOC, with support from the fantastic Haley Alea Erickson (Say Uncle Improv) as the lead’s childhood BFF.

I met Robin through casting and quickly learned the obstacles she’s had to overcome in her personal life, from a tragic incident where her husband was shot (propelling her family to adapt a plant-based diet, since it was the only way he could process food), to a former news station employer criticizing and wanting to change everything about her appearance, including her natural hair. Her resilience has been so inspiring to me, and she’s been incredibly supportive of the project since the day she came into auditions.

 

Why was it important to you to have a crew made up entirely of women and POC?

It’s taken a long time for the TV/film industry to realize the importance of diverse casting when it comes to telling stories from the perspective of POC (see: Matt Damon, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson, someone probably auditioning for Aladdin 2 right now) and we still have a lot more work to do to improve it. But booking a diverse crew and staff (anywhere from the writers’ room to showrunners, gaffers to directors) continues to be an afterthought for many studios and networks who boast about their “woke” content.

That’s why another priority on this project was to have a crew that reflects the inclusiveness of the cast. And for me, that extends to booking women in roles that are often exclusively filled by men on set. I’ve witnessed this gender inequality in previous work experiences in the TV industry, as well as in the comedy scene with show lineups. I may not be a rich and powerful TV/film executive, but I can still implement the kind of change I’d like to see, even on a smaller level.

How can folks support the project?

We’re currently raising money to fund our film (most importantly, pay and feed our amazing cast and crew). If you have the means, please consider donating to our Indiegogo campaign where in exchange, you can get some cool-as-hell prizes from local women-owned businesses, women artists, and women professionals.

If you can’t donate, please share the link with anyone/everyone you know! We’re also looking for businesses who are interested in donating meals for craft services during our shoot days, so if that’s you, please email us at uncomfortablewomanfilm@gmail.com.

Where can we follow for updates?

You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@uncomfwoman), and Instagram (@uncomfortablewoman). This is the one scenario where it’s appropriate to follow around “an uncomfortable woman.”

You can see Meghan Ross in her monthly ColdTowne show, That Time of the Month, and on Saturday, Nov. 3 at BettyFest at the Historic Scoot Inn.

Destroy the self. Replace it with comedy. Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant

Pendulum Presents ascends expectations of typical sketch comedy.

Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant is a sketch comedy show about the world of cults, running Oct. 6 through Nov. 3 at ColdTowne Theater. On the eve of their Ascension, the members of The Ascendant gather to reminisce about their experiences in the cults of their past. You’ll come along with them on a trip down memory lane as they discuss the downsides of using jorts as a cult uniform, the perils of being a boy prophet, and the tricky politics of ritual suicide.

At this point, Pendulum is an established voice in the Austin comedy scene, with many of Austin’s top comedians and writers counting themselves as writers and performers. “Pendulum has created dark and hilarious sketch comedy shows at ColdTowne every month for the past three years,” says Will Cleveland, Artistic Director, ColdTowne Theater. “They have a fearless approach to humor that splits the audience into cringers and belly-laughers.”

The members of Pendulum have performed at theaters and festivals all over the country, including the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, SF Sketchfest, Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, Austin Sketch Fest, and Houston’s Trill Comedy Festival.

Pendulum members are James Fernandez, Dylan Garsee, Emma Holder, Lane Ingram, Yola Lu, Brian May, Griffin May, Meredith Newell, Tevis Paxton, Kyle Romero, Nicole Russell, and Steven Smith. In addition to Pendulum, you can see them in many of Austin’s beloved comedy shows like Stool Pigeon, Movie Riot, Frankenfriends, The Gayme Show, and Y’all We Asian.

“We here at Pendulum have a reputation for putting together shows that are overly ambitious, kind of frightening, and filled with lots of detail about fantastic and horrible invented worlds,” says Pendulum cast member Kyle Romero. “So we set out to write a show about cults and cult leaders, and then we liked it so much we accidentally became a real cult in the process. Whoops!”

Pendulum Presents: The Ascendant runs at ColdTowne Theater (4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751) Saturdays at 7:00 pm, starting October 6th and through November 3rd. Tickets are $12 at the door and $10 online. For more information, contact coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com, call (512) 814-8696, or visit www.coldtownetheater.com.

About ColdTowne Theater

ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s main stage for alternative comedy. Running shows 7 nights a week and featuring the smartest, brightest, and hardest-working comedians in Central Texas. For phone reservations or more information, call (512) 817-TOWN, or visit www.ColdTowneTheater.com

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pendulum-presents-the-ascendant-sketch-tickets-49694748330

MEDIA CONTACT
Lilli Lopez, Marketing Director
ColdTowne Theater
lillianallopez@gmail.com

B. Iden Payne Award-winning cast, Prima Doñas presents an all-new live comedy telenovela

You may or may not have gotten a chance to see a Latinauts show at ColdTowne in the last year and a half. If you did, you know that the cast (known as improv troupe Prima Doñas) is made up of Latinx improvisers who have spent most of 2017 and 2018 making up shows on the spot with a telenovela twist. After three sold out main stage show runs at ColdTowne Theater and after bringing home three B. Iden Payne Awards in 2017 including outstanding cast in an improvised play, the group is taking their highly conceptual theater-prov to a White House setting in Latinacional.

The all-star cast of this comedy explore the relationships and trials you might see in a telenovela, all the while maintaining their character’s duties as part of the the President’s Cabinet. The show features some of Austin’s most talented performers, including: Yamina Khouane ( nominated Best Actress in the Chronicle’s 2018 Best Of Austin), Carlos La Rotta of Movie Riot (ColdTowne) and Laura de la Fuente (Martini Ranch & Loverboy, ColdTowne). Prima Doñas also just finished headlining at FuturX: A New LatinX Festival and Out of Bounds Comedy Festival here in Austin this past August.

The idea behind bringing this new iteration of Prima Doñas’ signature telenovela improv format to the White House is heavily inspired by West Wing and HBO’s Veep. If you’re yearning to see literally anyone else in the White House, even just for an hour, Prima Doñas will take you there with a promise to make no references to today’s political disarray… if they can help it.

Directed by Ben G Bazán and Lilli Lopez, Latinacional runs at ColdTowne Theater (4803 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751) Saturdays at 8:30 beginning September 29 through Nov. 17, no show on Nov. 3. Tickets are $15 at the door and $12 online. For more information, contact coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com, call (512) 814-8696, or visit www.coldtownetheater.com.

About ColdTowne Theater
ColdTowne Theater is Austin’s main stage for alternative comedy. Running shows 7 nights a week and featuring the smartest, brightest, and hardest-working comedians in Central Texas. For phone reservations or more information, call (512) 817-TOWN, or visit www.ColdTowneTheater.com

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/latinacional-improv-tickets-49992183968

MEDIA CONTACT
Lilli Lopez, Marketing Director
ColdTowne Theater
lillianallopez@gmail.com

Robotic Improv Invades Long Center!

A mashup of Battlebots and Whose Line is it Anyway?, Bot Party 3.0 features integrated teams of humans and robots competing in comedic challenges based off of audience suggestions. Originally produced in 2015 as a Machine Shop series through Austin’s Fusebox Festival, ColdTowne co-founder Arthur Simone founded the group as a nonprofit theater organization. Collaborating with Red Sky Robotics and social roboticists from Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas & MIT’s Media Lab, Bot Party’s robots have been featured in SXSW Create, Austin Maker Faire & East Austin Studio Tour.

Bot Party 3.0 is presented in association with ColdTowne Theater, Fusebox Festival and IEEE Central Texas from November 3-5. We spoke with mastermind Arthur Simone about the genesis of the show.

What drew you to working with Robots and AI in comedy? I had been doing improv with my dog Robin Goodfellow on a dare, anthropomorphizing his every move and endowing him as silent partner characters for scenes. Robin’s programming was pretty easy – food, water, cheese nibble resets in between scenes and bits. After that, I went through a Fusebox Festival Machine Shop program developing robotic characters for short form games, and I’ve relied on an entire community of roboticists, engineers and makers to build [Bot Party Robot] Annabelle.

What’s been some notable, weird, or incredible on-stage performance moments working with robots (or Dogs for that matter). If the battery’s weak or the network is slow the timing can really hit or miss, but convention floor events like SXCreate and Maker Faire have been great for a wide range of ages. The best interactions have been simple “Hey there’s” while dodging otherwise uninterested or too-interested groups of people. A subtle robot is a triumphant robot.

I’m surprised by the broader world of engineers and scientists you’ve become involved with. What kind of interesting advances have you learned about, and have you brought any of that knowledge into your other creative pursuits? I’ve always been interested in minimal theater and building from scratch. Here’s a ball! Call it a robot, why not? Where is the robot? Is it the ball or the machine system tracking the ball? Who makes decisions for this ball? Is it Big Brother or Skynet or Deep Blue? Maybe Etsy, is Etsy a robot? Speaking of, please visit my Etsy store or view my abstract expressionist oil paintings during the East Austin Studio Tour (I’ll be stop #31). Annabelle will be there too!

What’s your prognosis for Austin’s cultural climate moving forward? We’re f*cked! support local artists.

You’re also extremely politically active. What can working with robots teach us about politics, and what can politicians learn from robots? Robots have been in politics for some time already, right? Think about prerecorded, even heavily edited, robocalls to voters from easily-recognized public figures. At least some robots are capable of learning history!