ColdTowne’s Level 1 $99 deal is live and I’m here to sell it to ya!

Hi, I’m Lilli Lopez. If you’ve been to ColdTowne Theater, you might have seen me with B. Iden Payne Award winning team Prima Doñas in Latinauts, or maybe from The Rose, BettyFest, or even Futurx Festival. I’m a performer / artist / producer / writer and I also happen to be a faculty member and the marketing director at ColdTowne Theater.  So yes, I’m writing this to sell you something (plz don’t go).

Miles stuntin’ on ’em after a Bravado Grooming appt.

Here’s the THING though, ColdTowne Conservatory’s $99 Deal is the second best 100 bucks I ever spent. The first best is Miles’s adoption fee at Austin Humane Society. Wow, look at my son.

Before I even get into my own improv experience, did you even know we teach classes here? We teach classes here! Yes, ColdTowne has live comedy shows every night of the week, but we also have the ColdTowne Conservatory, which offers Levels 1-6 of improv, two levels of sketch, an advanced studies course and elective courses, intensives and workshops. Hell, we can even come to your work for teambuilding. But our most popular, might I even argue, the most valuable course ColdTowne Theater offers is level 1 improv. Classes meet weekly for 2 hours at a time over eight weeks. The reason level 1 improv is so popular is because improv teaches you to become a better collaborator, active listener and sharper communicator. These are skills are applicable to almost anyone and we definitely do our fair share of corporate trainings to know just how valuable these skills are in any setting. The annual $99 Deal is on sale now. That’s 8 weeks of level 1 improv or sketch for $150 off the regular price. I bought this deal back in 2014 and I am 100% satisfied with what that deal gave me (keep scrollin’).

Okay, so let me tell you about how I got to ColdTowne.
Fresh out of grad school in 2014, I moved to Austin for my first full-time job as a digital communications consultant. I’d always wanted to try to “doing comedy” and even though I didn’t know what that meant exactly, I did know I needed something to do outside of my job and I’d read that taking an improv class would improv my communications skills. At that point it was a career investment. TWAS SOLD. If this is something I enjoyed, I’d move on to level 2. If not, I learned the basics of improv.

I went to my first class in January 2015 and knew right away this was something I was going to enjoy. I had so much fun on day 1 and continued to have fun in each class I took after. Now, I teach level 1 at ColdTowne, I facilitate teambuilding at corporate events and I sometimes teach the free improv 101 classes we offer every Monday. I really do believe improv is for everyone. As a student and instructor, I have seen so many people find their voice, get out of their head and make decisive and bold moves. Here are some of my favorite skills I’ve improved or picked up doing improv over the last five years:

  • active listening
  • collaboration
  • creativity
  • problem-solving
  • trusting my gut

When I bought this deal, I took level 1 improv right away. As soon as the new year started, I was getting into class, but if you’re not able to start right away or maybe even want to recruit a friend to join you, you have time! You can start level 1 when you’re ready in 2020.

Shout out to my level 1 classmates + friends! This was after our first showcase.

Need another reason to treat yourself or someone special to this gift? There are so many amazing local businesses in Austin. Truly. And ColdTowne is one of them. With more than 13 years of slinging comedy and building legends under its belt, ColdTowne has only gotten better. As someone who really values where my dollar is spent (Capitalism is a TRIP!), I try spending my money at small businesses more often than not and as I moved through levels one through six of improv, began performing regularly, making friends and directing and winning some awards along the way, I have seen my small investment return so many gifts and opportunities. Shop local! Your local business owners are putting your money back into the community (hopefully, right?!). When I joined the ColdTowne staff a couple years after beginning classes, I quickly saw how and why ColdTowne’s Conservatory has grown so much in the last several years and why our classes fill up. The staff and faculty are committed to providing a space where everyone feels safe to explore their creativity and collaborate with others and this is reflected in the shows that are put up at ColdTowne Theater by students and performres. Improv really is life-changing and as our staff and faculty continue to diversify and prioritize sensitivity and inclusion in the curriculum, I am more excited than ever to recommend this level 1 deal. Some of the best deals in life can’t be found on Amazon, hunny. Sometimes you find ’em at a comedy theater under a video store.

GET THE $99 DEAL by Monday, December 13

ColdTowne Conservatory welcomed new Faculty members in 2019

ColdTowne Conservatory welcomed new Faculty members in 2019

ColdTowne Conservatory is very pleased to have welcomed 6 new faculty members to our ranks this past year.  ColdTowne veterans Lilli Lopez from Prima Doñas, Kim Lowery & Stephanie Thoreson from Loverboy, as well as new ColdTowners Maddie Cordovano & Tom Daily II performers transplanted from iO Theatre and The Second City in Chicago and also Haley Chamblee, ColdTowne’s new Conservatory Director have all joined our storied faculty ranks. We’re very lucky to have them!

Haley Chamblee is ColdTowne’s Conservatory Director. A graduate of ColdTowne Conservatory, Haley also serves as the registration coordinator for the annual Austin Ladies Comedy Retreat. Haley improvises with House teams Hawkeye and Porch Cat, and indie teams Lazer Squid, Ronin, and Thotties.

 

 

Maddie Cordovano trained in Chicago performing, working and coaching at both The Second City and iO Theater. Last year, she moved to Austin where she has found the joy of living in a warm place and the comfort of being part of this city’s friendly comedy community. Maddie improvises weekly in both Sweet Lightning at the Fallout, and Stool Pigeon at ColdTowne Theater.

 

Tom Daily II was thirteen when he started at the John Casablanca school for acting and started improvising in high school.  He moved to Chicago where he studied at the Second City Training program then took iO improv classes as well as Actors Studio’s courses Screen Study and Meisner Technique. ‘IN Chicago he appeared in “Attend the Tale Of Danny Tanner: A Full House Musical”. Once back in Houston, he performed with Station Theatre’s CAN’T TELL US NOTHING on stages all around Texas. And this year, he joined ColdTowne house team and B.Iden Payne winner of 2019 Best Improv Troupe, Sugar Water Purple.

Lilli Lopez is known for her performance in Latinauts: Improvised Telenovelas, a 2019 Austin Critics Table Award winner and 2017 B. Iden Payne Award’s (Outstanding Improv Production, Outstanding Cast [Improvised Show], and Outstanding Direction. Lilli also co-directed Latinauts: Wrath of Juan and LatiNacional, which just won 2019’s Best Improv Production, as well as a co-Directing win for Lilli. She also directed and hosted The Rose: Trouble in Paradise at ColdTowne. She is ColdTowne’s Marketing Director as well as an actor and teaching artist with the Paramount Theater Story Wranglers, and a producer of BettyFest, an annual all-women comedy festival. Lilli holds a masters degree in mass communication from the Manship School at Louisiana State University, where she researched nonprofit communication strategy.

Kim Lowery is on the Community Board of ColdTowne Theater where she graduated in 2015 from the Conservatory and from the inaugural class of the Advanced Studies Program in 2016. Additionally, Kim is one of the producers of BettyFest ATX, an annual all-women and non-binary comedy festival that celebrates the diverse voices empowering the Austin comedy community. You can see Kim perform every Friday night at 8:30 at ColdTowne Theater in one of Austin’s best comedy shows with Loverboy improv.

 

Stephanie Thoreson is the winner of Hill Country Film Fest’s “Best Actress” award and ColdTowne Theater’s “Best Character Performer” award. She is on the Board of Directors for BettyFest. You can see Stephanie every Friday night at ColdTowne Theater performing with the award-winning all-women improv troupe Loverboy, named by Thrillist as one of the best comedy shows in Austin. Stephanie graduated ColdTowne Conservatory in 2015.

We’re thrilled to have these artists and veterans of ColdTowne Conservatory faculty. To sign up for classes or view class details and offerings, visit

 

Y’all We Asian: When We First Saw Ourselves Represented On-Screen

Y’all, We Asian” is back with a new hour-long show that refocuses the narrative of Hollywood whitewashing. We’re empowering diverse voices and re-imagining films by inserting Asian leads. “Starring Y’all We Asian”, which pays homage to the #StarringJohnCho movement, will feature snappy, character-driven improv comedy inspired by movie trailers. Catch the show every Saturday night at 8:30pm from February 16 to April 6 at ColdTowne Theater!

Before Crazy Rich Asians was released, the last major Asian-American film was The Joy Luck Club, 25 years prior. 2018’s “Asian August” brought a lot of progress for Asian-American representation on the big screen – we’re finally getting more multi-faceted portrayals! We’re not just the goofy best friends! We’re #notsidekicks! “Starring Y’all We Asian” is a celebration of how far Asians have come in Hollywood and a reminder of how many more diverse stories there are to be told. We asked some members of “Y’all We Asian” about the first time they felt represented on-screen.

https://www.theroot.com/in-living-color-cast-then-and-now-1790867994

Steve Park was a standup and performer on the hit television show “In Living Color” during the 1991 season. Having loved comedy and watching performances from a young age, seeing someone that represented me on that big stage allowed me to have the dream that it WAS possible for an Asian to be on TV anywhere.” – G-Su Paek

https://maxlinkinfo.blogspot.com/2018/08/awkwafina-single-woman-seeking-manwich.html

“I remember Googling ‘asian female rapper’ when I was college. That’s how I found out about Awkwafina. This was in 2015, before Crazy Rich Asians, before she hosted SNL, back when she was just a scrappy rapper-comedian in Brooklyn making her own web-series called “Tawk”, which I remember binge-watching and screaming about for days. Awkwafina was loud, messy, and relentlessly funny. In her, I saw the weird parts of myself that didn’t fit into any mould that I grew up with. She is boldly herself at all times, and it has been so exciting to watch her rise.” – Minda Wei

“My first Jet Li movie was Hero. I quickly became obsessed with the talented, stone-faced, eagle eyed martial artist, and tore through as many movies as I could. He became my favorite actor and kung fu movies became one of my top favorites. I even started taking Tang Soo Do lessons and had an embarrassing trist as collector of swords and other martial weapons. Jet Li had it all! Strength, skill, cool as a cucumber, and looked dope as hell whether he’s rocking the long queue hair or the tac gear and black shades. Li was the pinnacle of my early concepts of “manliness”, a strong lead who could go toe to toe with the Stathams and Stalones. Even though I would later come out as a Non-Binary individual and re-evaluate all of my concepts of masculinity, Jet Li was no less important a figure in the grand tapestry of influences on my life and ultimately on my identity.” – Virgil Shelby

https://www.inverse.com/article/19390-fast-and-the-furious-tokyo-drift-is-on-netflix-instant-streaming

“I’ve seen other Fast and Furious movies, but there was no F&F that my friends and I were more excited about than Tokyo Drift. Despite the fact that the movie is set in Tokyo and stars a white guy, we watched it over and over again because we felt like “omg, Asians are on the map!” We looked cool, raced cars, and were tough and handsome and hot. It was exciting, even if we were mostly the background characters in the movie. But who cares! The title has Tokyo in it!” – Yola Lu

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0132yz7

“The first time I saw somebody in a lead role that represented me was when Bend It Like Beckham came out. There were a bunch of movies dealing with kids and sports like The Mighty Ducks, The Sandlot, Like Mike, and Rookie of the Year that were so popular at my school. Parminder Nagra as the central character of a sports comedy movie that blew up in popularity really helped me feel represented, especially with growing up in the only Indian family in my city for a majority of my life up to then. Back then, I definitely didn’t understand all of the social commentary in the movie, but I am proud they added depth to make it more than another typical sports comedy film.” – Faraaz Ismail

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/05/hasan-minhaj-homecoming-king-interview

While I had seen various Asian Americans on screen before, the first stand-out moment where I was like “wow, yeah I strongly feel and relate to this in a way that really plugs into my identity” was just a little over a year ago when I watched Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King”. He captured part of the “Asian child of immigrant parents” experience in a way that I had never experienced and made me feel seen and laugh and cry. It was so truthful and heartfelt and funny and he never sacrificed any pain for a laugh.” – Kim Tran

The 25th annual Austin Film Festival kicks off on October 24!

 

ColdTowne Theater is excited to continue our partnership with Austin Film Festival at this year’s Austin Film Festival & Writers Conference!

The 25th annual Austin Film Festival kicks off on October 24th with our Film & Food Fundraising Party. Come enjoy cocktails and cuisine with filmmakers, producers, celebrities and foodies from Austin and beyond at the historic Driskill Hotel! The live auction will be hosted by Will Cleveland and all proceeds benefit Austin Film Festival’s Young Filmmakers Program, which aims to improve creativity, literacy, and communication skills through the arts of screenwriting and filmmaking.

On Thursday, head to the Driskill’s Victorian Balcony for First Three Pages, Live! featuring Will and Erica Lies. Join host Dave Buckman and AFF for an afternoon of live readings featuring the first three pages of works-in-progress, forgotten screenplays, and a few other surprises.

Back by popular demand, we’re offering morning improv workshops during Friday and Saturday of the Conference to help you “rise and shine” throughout the day. Join hosts Dave Buckman and Rachel Madorsky to learn techniques that you can utilize at the Conference to pitch your script or approach your screenwriting idol with confidence.

Dave Buckman will host this year’s Awards Luncheon (tickets are sold out – call to get on the waitlist 512-478-4795)! Dine with panelists, awardees (Roger Corman, Tony Gilroy, Daniel Petrie, Jr., and Larry Wilmore), and hear inspiring speeches from this year’s honorees and winners.

You won’t want to miss these incredible events. Check out the promo codes below and get your tickets for the fest today!

coldtowne25 – $25 off all badges – you will need at least a Conference Badge to participate in First Three Pages, Live! And the Friday session of Morning Improv if you are interested in Morning Improv on Saturday and checking out films you can purchase a Lone Star Badge

 

coldtownefp – $15 off a Film Pass – for access to all 8 days of film and the Film Pass Party in partnership with Do512

Here is some information about some of the comedies we are screening this year!

Travel back to 1989 for a special retrospective screening of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure presented by Ed Solomon on Sunday, October 28 at 7:00PM at the Galaxy Highland – screen 9!

Check out this year’s Comedy Vanguard Films:

Simple Wedding

Nousha might have finally found the one in Alex, an eccentric bisexual artist. But when her parents find out about the blossoming relationship, she’s pressured into tying the knot before either of them are ready. The thrust-upon wedding becomes a runaway train as cultures clash and families collide.

Filmmaker Interview

Thursday, October 25 | 7:10 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

Tuesday, October 30 | 8:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 8

Original Sin (Pecado Original)

In partnership with Cine Las Americas

A sexually-frustrated woman, her uptight husband, and a freewheeling artist form an unlikely love triangle.

Trailer

Filmmaker Interview

Thursday, October 25 | 9:45 PM | Bethell Hall-St. David’s Episcopal Church

Tuesday, October 30 | 5:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 9

Antiquities

Walt moves back to his hometown in hopes of learning more about his recently deceased father. After accepting a job in a local antique shop, he ends up not only finding out who his father really was but learns more about himself than he ever thought possible.

Trailer

Friday, October 26 | 4:00 PM | State Theatre

Tuesday, October 30 | 2:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 7

In Reality

In partnership with Something More

In order to reclaim her bearing on reality, newly heartbroken Ann confronts her overgrown fantasies by making a film about the experience.

Trailer

Saturday, October 27 | 8:30 PM | Galaxy Highland screen 8

Wednesday, October 31 | 1:00 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova

Estranged siblings Sarah and Aaron arrive in Dombrova, Poland with a singular mission: to fulfill their dying grandmother’s wish to find, dig up, and bring home the bones of her favorite childhood dog.

Saturday, October 27 | 9:30 PM | Bethell Hall-St. David’s Episcopal Church

Wednesday, October 31 | 9:30 PM | Hideout Theatre

Lost & Found

Seven different stories interconnect around a lost-and-found office at an Irish train station. Even though they each have their own journey, they all stumble upon something they weren’t expecting.

Trailer

Sunday, October 28 | 1:00 PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village

Monday, October 29 | 4:00 PM | Hideout Theatre

Friends From College Season 2 Premiere–FREE and open to the public!

Creators Francesca Delbanco & Nicholas Stoller in attendance

Season 2 of Friends From College follows six Harvard alums in their 40s living in New York City and the complicated relationships they have with each other. It’s been a year since Ethan & Sam’s affair was exposed to the 4 other friends – including Lisa, Ethan’s wife – and the friend group is still fractured. No one has heard from Lisa, Ethan has been living a repentant year of writing a YA novel, and Sam has been trying to repair her marriage with her husband Jon.  But with Max’s wedding coming up, the friends won’t be able to avoid each other much longer. Between the engagement party, bachelor party, and wedding, the six will have to overcome the destruction in their past and figure out how to function as a friend group again. Will they be able to move forward or will they regress back to their old destructive patterns once again?

Friday, October 26 | 7:00PM | State Theatre

To purchase a Film Pass or Badge visit austinfilmfestival.com or call 512-478-4795. Film Passes are also available for purchase at The Long Center and The Paramount Theatre box offices.

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.