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Entries in Del Close Marathon 12 (4)


Inside With: Will Luera, Artistic Director of ImprovBoston

By: Meghan O'Keefe

The Del Close Marathon not only showcases the best improv New York City has to offer, but also the best from the rest of the country. ImprovBoston will be represented by three teams this year. I spoke with Artistic Director and Mainstage Cast Member, Will Luera, about the theater’s history with the Del Close Marathon and why a Cambridge, Massachusetts theater is called "ImprovBoston."

Will, you've been involved with ImprovBoston since 1997. What brought you to the theater?
I graduated from Boston College in 1997 and my plan was to move back to Chicago or NYC.  Before the move, I decided to take some improv classes in the area and I saw an ad for Marjorie Burren, an ImprovBoston alum. I took two levels and by the end of the second level she said I should audition for ImprovBoston. Luckily, they were having auditions a couple of months after classes and I got in! I left IB in 1999 to start my own improv company, Blue Screen Theater, and a year later I was hired again to be the Artistic Director of ImprovBoston.

How do you think ImprovBoston's approach to improv comedy differs from other theaters such as Second City, the UCB, the PIT, etc?
I am a big fan of Organic free-form improvisation. No structure, no form and sometimes no input.  We teach our actors that every moment in a show, scene, offer can be deconstructed and can lead to another scene. We teach our actors tools on ways to deconstruct a scene and organically transition to a new one. I truly believe that every show can be entirely unique if you tune in to the sensibilities of the actors and the audience. We go with where the show takes you.

My biggest influence earlier in my career was Burn Manhattan. We did a workshop with them in 1999 and it completely shifted my perspective on improvisation and they're ultimately responsible for the Artistic vision of ImprovBoston today.

This year's marathon features three teams from ImprovBoston (ImprovBoston Mainstage, Marjean & Plan B). What should audience members expect from each of these three shows?

The ImprovBoston Mainstage will feature the style I just described. We have had three amazing years at DCM and we're looking forward to going back.  Plan B and Marjean are Chicago-style Harold teams.  Both are very talented Harold ensembles and would make Del proud.

How did your involvement with the Del Close Marathon begin?
Our first marathon was in 1999 when I took the old Sitcom Boston troupe. This was back when the festival was only 24 hours and in one space. I remember seeing the original UCB 4 all of the time as well as other - now famous - comedians.

Do you have a favorite Del Close Marathon memory?
My favorite memory was probably two years ago when I was in five different shows across three stages. I submitted all of the shows and they were all accepted. It was great to be so involved in the marathon and to get to perform so much. I also have fond memories of audience members who try to sit through the whole thing. That's just so wonderfully awesome. 

ImprovBoston seems to have grown in the past few years. You've moved to a larger theater, organized a variety of festivals and have a growing presence on the national stage.  What's next for the ImprovBoston community?
Artistically, I have a few things that I'm trying to focus on for this next season. I would expect more work to come out from our film team and to see us organize more scripted comedy projects. Our sketch department has grown significantly but I would also like to expand into 10-minute, one-act and full-length plays as well as screenwriting and writing for television.

Inquiring minds want to know--why is the theater called ImprovBoston if it is located in the city of Cambridge, MA?
Yes... great question! I think it's kind of how like the New York Jets actually play in Jersey.  Actually, in the very early days of ImprovBoston, the group used to perform in and around Boston.  Eventually, they landed a regular gig in Cambridge and soon after came a permanent home in Inman Square, Cambridge. Thus, we are stuck with the geographically incorrect description!

ImprovBoston Mainstage will be performing at the UCB Theatre, Saturday at 3 pm. Marjean will be performing at Hudson Guild Theatre Friday at 11:30 pm and Plan B at the Hudson Guild Theatre Saturday at 9:30 pm.



Neil Casey, Kat Toledo and Bobby Moynihan at DCM X | Photo: Eric AppelHere's probably the best tip for anyone attending DCM XII: There will always be something funnier happening on some other stage. You simply can't see it all, so there's no point kvetching about it in line. Like a great improv scene, true DCM enjoyment comes from discovering and witnessing an awesome improv moment when you least expect it. Yes, there are shows worth sitting "criss-cross-applesauce" for three hours and suffering deep-vein thrombosis, but there are also random shows at random hours that will rock your face off. My favorite example is the Death by Roo Roo show at 6AM Sunday, probably seven years ago, when the boys burst forth from backstage, screaming at the audience to wake up before launching into scenes involving a "Guido Greedo," serial-killer roommates and a plumber who gets sexually harassed by a series of residents, each of whom takes a turn sitting in one chair. I cackled punch-drunkenly at Neil Casey, getting tagged to get up from the seat: "Yeah, yeah, I'll get up. If only so it'll move things along!" -- Keith Huang and Lucas Hazlett



Design by Dyna Moe and Steve Dressler

The Del Close Marathon XII descends upon Metropolis once again this weekend. Starting at 4:30PM on Friday, improvisers from around the world will feel like King Théoden in The Two Towers, muttering: "And so it begins..."

Although the stats are the same -- more than 150 shows in one weekend -- this year's festival feels bigger, faster, funnier and sweatier than years past. I'm not sure how that works, I just know that it does. To kick things off, I found a Random Time/Date Generator on the Web, plugged in the festival's start and finish time and came up with the following date and time slots. I asked a representative from these shows to answer the following question:

Why should I come to your show?

31-Jul-2010 22:27:14 - "We're giving out free champagne (not a bit) and we're one of the only groups that will be doing a Harold." --Winston Noel, RAGNARÖCK

31-Jul-2010 19:28:37 - "You should come to our show because you will never see bongos used this fast and this way again." --Clay Foltz, Loser Josh

31-Jul-2010 14:34:23 - "The first thing you notice about Donut Video is that no two members are alike; physically or in their comedy stylings. Though all trained in improv at UCBLA and iO West, they have also ventured out into the worlds of stand up, sketch and physical comedy/clowning. If you hate awesomeness, good times, laughter and fun, please do not come see our show. Instead, use that half hour to reevaluate your life. " --Sonny Dominguez, Donut Video

31-Jul-2010 10:26:52 - "Daddy is filled with veteran UCB improvisers who are probably going to get naked, and that is what you want to see early Sunday morning." --Zhubin Parang, Daddy

01-Aug-2010 00:19:27 - "Belmont Transfer is High-Quality, Deep-Dish, Fast-Paced, Weird Improv from Chicago that'll satisfy you sexually or at least make you giggle." --Peter Robards, The Belmont Transfer

31-Jul-2010 07:13:42 - "Never shying away from the absurd, lewd, or awkward-these Fish take a swim through your subconscious and leave you dying to sleep with them." --Stefanie Grassley, Fish Is Fish

...more to come


Del Close Marathon 12 Announced

The 12th Annual Del Close Marathon is on for July 30th through August 1st and will once again feature hundreds of performers and special shows and workshops across multiple stages with the UCB Theatre and New York City as its backdrop.

The emailbox is now open for group and show submissions to this premier comedy megaevent. For complete guidelines and an application, go to The deadline for consideration is May 3.