The Importance of Play in Difficult Times

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN DIFFICULT TIMES 

by Rachel Madorsky, LCSW

The more we laugh, the more resilient we become. The more we think about our problems, the bigger our problems become.

Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

But honestly, how many of us do try to solve our problems by thinking about them (over and over)? There are a lot of scary things happening in the world. It’s easy to be serious.

How can we take time to play when there are so many things to worry about? So many unknowns occurring in our lives?

The answer is this. Every time we press the pause button on our stress, we teach ourselves that we have power, choice and freedom.

When we feel light-hearted and connected we are in a much better position to help ourselves and others. These are the qualities we receive when we’re at play.

Playing reminds us of our aliveness and our innocence. Playing improves our intelligence by exercising a part of the brain that allows new information to come in.  

When we play, our minds become less rigid, increasing our chances of looking at the world (and our struggles) from different perspectives, including a more optimistic point of view.

When we allow ourselves to laugh with others, try something new, let go of the need to look good or impress anyone, our confidence rises and we take our power back.

Being playful is one of the purest forms of relating. It’s the kind of coping strategy that doesn’t leave you feeling regretful the next morning and instead allows you to feel more relaxed, more real, and more open to receive the goodness of life.

A few years ago I had the grace of being by my grandmother’s side while she died. I was holding her hand as my mother was holding her other hand. It was one of the most beautiful and heart breaking times in my life. At the funeral, the rabbi asked the immediate family to please rise. As we did I whispered into my mother’s ear “he said rise”. My mother is 4’6 and my joke made her laugh. 

The darker and more stressful the time, the greater the need to release the tension, to to let go and be light. We need each other. With playfulness there is an opening of the heart and mind, reminding us that we are in this life together and no matter what happens there is still magic and delight to be found. 

We have phrased it wrong. It is not social distancing. It’s physical distancing with social connection. Don’t let these difficult times stop you from enjoying your life and practicing the art of play.

For those of us that like lists, here is a rundown of the important benefits of play, especially during difficult times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sing a song, dance your heart out in the living room, look at things with new eyes, and connect with people who bring out the best in you. One of the most powerful ways to learn or re-learn how to play is through the art of improvisation. I know a place (online) where you can laugh hard and get some of the best play time there is. 

ColdTowne Classes starting now.

Jump in and say Yes to yourself.

 

Rachel is a Psychotherapist, Speaker, Relationship and Business Coach.
She is one of the co-owners and  founding faculty members, teaching and performing at ColdTowne Theater since the doors opened to Austin in 2006.

 

ColdTowne Updates among COVID-19

ATTN: Friends of ColdTowne
RE: COVID-19 updates

March 16, 2020 UPDATE

ColdTowne Students, Staff, Performers and Audience Members – 

In the interest of public health and taking care of our most vulnerable, we are pausing all in-person ColdTowne activities, shows and classes until April 6th. At that time, we will reassess our next steps and act in the best interest of the community. 

We are obviously disappointed, but your safety and the safety of our neighbors is more important than any comedy show, class or rehearsal. We look forward to rescheduling our planned performances for later in the year.

This crisis will severely impact many small, local businesses that rely on public assembly as well as the employees and staff who depend on them to eat and pay rent. We are committed to paying all of the dedicated artists who depend on us for as long as we can. But with no revenue coming in, we cannot do that forever. 

To that end, if you have the means to do so, you can support us in the following ways:

  1. Paypal donations to JamCityLLC@gmail.com. Or USE THIS LINK.
  2. If you have purchased a ticket to a show that has been cancelled, you will be contacted via email about refunds shortly. Please consider donating that amount to the theater.
  3. We are exploring options for gift cards and will post more information as we have it.

Additionally, we have 200 bored comedians sitting around with nothing to do, so look forward to some announcements about streaming content and other online shenanigans soon!

Remember, the most important thing right now is to take care of each other by practicing social distancing so we can #flattenthecurve. In the meantime we are not going anywhere, we are here for you and will stay connected on line. Continue to take care of yourself, check in with each other, ask for help when you need it, and support local artists however you can. We got your back!

-Signed,

Dave, Rachel, Jastroch, Will, Haley, Lilli, Stephanie, Ari, Preston, Jennifer, Wendy, and the rest of the ColdTowne Staff and Teachers!

March 13, 2020 UPDATE

Students, Performers and Audience Members,

In the interest of public health and because the safety, security and well being of our community is our number one priority, we have made the decision to cancel or postpone this weekend’s performances at ColdTowne Theater. 

We have not made this decision lightly, and will be assessing next steps Monday morning. In the meantime, please be advised of the following:

  • Session 2002 Start date has been pushed back to April 6th. As of this moment, we’re optimistic that we will be able to start the next session of classes in a timely fashion.
  • The space is still available for rehearsals, jams, auditions, and any rentals you may have scheduled. Please limit physical contact, observe hand washing guidelines and disinfect surfaces before and after you leave. If you have a question about your specific event, contact the producer. If you have made a rental and wish to cancel, email coldtownerentals@gmail.com ASAP.

In addition to the well being of our students, performers and audiences, our primary concern is making sure the people who count on ColdTowne to pay their rent are continued to be compensated for as long as we can manage.

Because of this, the next several months may prove to be challenging to the theater. Many of you have asked what you can do to help. First of all, our strength is in our community. The best thing you can do is take care of yourselves and your loved ones by following all health and safety recommendations. No theater, show, class, internship or performance is worth your safety or sense of well being. 

Second, if you have purchased a ticket for a show that has been cancelled, we kindly ask that, if you have the means, you consider donating that money to the theater. In the coming days, we may create more options to support our small business.

We believe that the comedy we make at ColdTowne is important, because it has the power to bring us together in times of crisis. Hell, that’s literally the founding principal of ColdTowne. Let’s take this time to use the awesome energy we’ve created to hang together in solidarity and get each other’s backs.

-ColdTowne Owners & Staff

————

March 11, 2020

The security and safety of our patrons, audience members, students and employees is our highest priority always. While Austin is considered a low-risk community for COVID19 (novel coronavirus), we want to share with you the procedures we are currently implementing to keep our patrons, performers and staff safe when they come through our doors.

At present, all shows/performances, classes and workshops will remain scheduled and we are taking the lead of national, state, and local public health authorities as we implement proactive strategies in both of our facilities, ColdTowne Theater and the ColdTowne Conservatory.

Our facility cleaning procedures have been updated and we will be offering more hand sanitation options in our spaces. We’ve instructed our staff to remain home in the event that they are experiencing any signs of flu-like illness and we encourage you to do the same, should you feel the need. As you may know frequent hand-washing can keep you from getting sick from viral and bacterial infections, including the coronavirus.

We anticipate that this will be a speed bump and fully manageable. We will remain attentive and are prepared to make further decisions based on current needs and changing conditions. We encourage you to take excellent care of yourself and continue to see lots of shows while you enjoy ColdTowne as a place of laughter, fun and refuge during this time… and all times!

Thank you,

Dave, Rachel & Mike, co-owners ColdTowne Theater

Please don’t hesitate to reach out via email with any questions or concerns.

Submissions now open for the 11th annual Austin Sketch Fest!

Submissions for the 11th annual Austin Sketch Fest are now open, and we would love to have acts from your theater and community apply! We’re welcoming all submissions for live scripted comedy: everything from sketch ensembles, weird conceptual game shows, character-based shows, to stand-up comedy, and anything in between.

Austin Sketch Fest showcases the best of Austin sketch comedy and scripted acts and stand-ups from around the country! Austin Sketch Fest is produced, booked, and organized by ColdTowne Theater. Past performers include Ego Nwodim (SNL), Amber Ruffin (Late Night with Seth Meyers), Paul F. Tomkins, James Adomian, Reductress LIVE, Asian AF (NY and LA), UCB Characters Welcome (NYC), and many more acts from NYC to Chicago to LA and everywhere in between.

The festival runs from May 20-24, 2020 (Memorial Day Weekend) at venues across Austin, Texas. Submissions are open now for $35 and will close February 15th and can be found at www.atxsketchfest.com

All-Star Comedy Collective Crowdfunding to Launch Sitcom Filmed at Toy Joy

Baby Lion Studios is teaming up with some of the biggest names from ColdTowne Theater and beyond to create the new sitcom Wind-Ups. Based on the 4 years showrunner and director Adam Protextor spent working at the iconic local institution Toy Joy, Wind-Ups follows a cast of six core characters as they navigate interpersonal relationships and growing older, all while working (and often playing) at an independent toy store. Breaking traditional structure, Wind-Ups’ season 1 arc is told over six episodes, each set on a different major holiday over the course of one calendar year. 

“By placing each of our episodes a few months apart, you get a sort of ‘fly on the wall’ quality as we drop in on these people’s lives. Writing funny jokes is a must, but inviting our audience to see themselves reflected in our core cast is what will make them feel invested. So much can change, or sometimes stay the same, in a year and it’s fun to start to piece together what has happened with our characters in the interim as each episode unfolds,” says Stephanie Thoreson, Baby Lion co-producer and one of the show’s head writers. 

Joining Thoreson in the writer’s room is an accomplished and award-winning team including fellow head writer, Ashlee Pryor-Pitluk (Super Black, Clone Squad) alongside Protextor (Bigfoot: The Musical, Hunnicut), Nathan Sowell (Angola: A Comedy, Friends For Now), and Devon Coleman (Sugar Water Purple, Hell Hole). The cast is equally as impressive and features some of Austin’s most beloved comedic actors. Yamina Khouane (2018 Best of Austin “Best Actress” winner, My Own Worst Enemy), Kenah Benefield (Sugar Water Purple, Call Me Brother), Ryan Darbonne (Sugar Water Purple, director of Angola: A Comedy), and Haley Alea Erickson (Mustang Island, The Say) join Protextor and Thoreson in the core cast, while James Fernandez (Latinauts, Latinacional), Kristie Denlinger (Porch Cat, Way Down in the Hole), Mason Pitluk (F*ck This Week, Call Me Brother), and Laura de la Fuente (Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk, Loverboy) round out the supporting cast. 

“This is an intensely personal story to me, and a project I’ve been wanting to do for 9 years. I truly believe that this show took so long to come to fruition because it was waiting for the right people to bring it there. The team we’ve assembled couldn’t speak any more loudly to the spirit of local artistic collaboration both the store and the show represent,” says Protextor. 

Equally as important was finding a Director of  Photography perfect for Wind-Ups. The team continued to stray away from sitcom convention when they brought on board Taylor Camarot, an award-winning DP whose creative camera moves and inventive lighting make up his signature storytelling style. Protextor says, “We know that Taylor can elevate it past ‘another sitcom’ territory into something that can be as unique, tonally thoughtful, and beautiful to look at as it is funny. We’re incredibly excited to see what he does with 6 comedians in a toy store.”

With such an incredible group of people, they needed the final piece of the puzzle – a toy store to film it all in. That’s when Protextor went back to where it all began and reached out to Toy Joy, securing the Airport Blvd. location (just a short walk from ColdTowne Theater) as the new home for Wind-Ups. In a full-circle moment, the very store that inspired the show became the place that would help bring the story to life. 

Wind-Ups is currently crowdfunding on IndieGoGo to launch filming in early 2020! Visit igg.me/at/windups to become a part of their creative collective and join the Wind-Ups journey by donating or sharing their story! 

Adam Protextor and Stephanie Thoreson formed Baby Lion Studios in 2018, and have since used the imprint to produce YouTube shows, live comedy shows, and promotional materials for a variety of local comedians and venues, including ColdTowne, BettyFest, Chlane, Glam Fam, and many more. Protextor is best known as a rapper and founder of Austin Mic Exchange, and has spent the past two years expanding into comedy. Stephanie Thoreson has been acting and performing sketch and improv since 2013, and is a founding member of the award-winning ColdTowne house team Loverboy. In 2019, she staged her second solo sketch show Fishbowl and toured the festival circuit to promote her starring role in the feature film Good Feels on Wheels, for which she has won three “Best Actress” awards.  

Ho Ho Holy Shit! Prayer Circle Comedy returns for the holidays at ColdTowne Theater

Austin, TX: The award-winning, irreverent, and occasionally sacrilegious comedy team Prayer Circle is back with a new sketch show just in time for the winter holy days. 

All attendees WILL be wished a Merry Christmas! Join Prayer Circle every Saturday this December for a holiday extravaganza that will leave you saying Ho Ho Holy Shit! It’s the perfect religious treason for the season. For unto you sketch comedy is born. Rated PG-17. 

Ho Ho Holy Shit runs for four Saturdays November 30th to December 20th at 7:00pm at ColdTowne Theater.  Tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door. For more information, contact coldtowne@coldtownetheater.com, call (512) 814-8696, or visit www.coldtownetheater.com.  ColdTowne is BYOB/sacramental wine. 

Tickets & Links

ColdTowneTheater.com

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prayer-circle-comedy-ho-ho-holy-shit-tickets-79253917601 

bit.ly/hohoholyshit

facebook.com/PrayerCircleComedy

Instagram @PrayerCircleComedy

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

PRESS CONTACT:
Lilli Lopez, Marketing Director
ColdTowne Theater
lillianallopez@gmail.com
956-683-5067