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Entries in ImprovBoston (2)

Monday
Aug162010

Migrations: Neil and Sarah Reynolds Cut Loose to LA

By: Brian Perry

Boston, like any area that breeds a comedy scene, tends to be a bit of a transitory environment. People come, do great work, make connections, and some inevitably continue on their way. Recently joining the ex-Boston ranks were local favorites and real life married couple Neil Reynolds (Code Duello, ImprovBoston Mainstage) and Sarah Reynolds (ImprovBoston Family Show, Tiny Little Lungs, Harold Night). I had a chance to speak with them about their move days before they packed up their car and headed cross country. They've since settled in on the West Coast, but the spot they left behind in Boston still lingers.

How long have you guys been performing in the Boston area?

Sarah: I've been here ten years.

Neil: and I've been here six.

And you're moving to Los Angeles... what are your plans when you get out there?

Neil: The short term plan is that I'm enrolling in film school at USC's Peter Stark producing program. It’s a two year MFA program.

Sarah: I’ll be looking for work as a professional singer -- looking for opportunities to perform live and hopefully and do some recording in a studio setting. I’ll also continue to look for opportunities to teach music.

You have both improvised quite a bit in Boston -- are you planning on continuing out in LA?

Sarah: Yes. In fact, I think were both excited about being students again

Neil: We don’t know which of the theaters we'll be starting out at or what the time frame is, but it's
one of our priorities when we move out there. It's also one of the best ways we know to meet
people and make connections.

Looking back, what are some of the favorite projects you've done here?

Sarah: My two woman musical improv show Tiny Little Lungs has been a highlight. It's really liberating as a singer to step into the world of improv and suddenly have priorities outside of singing well technically. Also, there was The Wasteland...

Neil: We both worked on The Wasteland Comedy Hour with T.S. Eliot. That was a great, ambitious project. We worked with and met very cool people and pushed ourselves to create a very high volume of material -- sketch, standup, music, video, and live performance. That was in 2007. Since then I’ve mostly been proud of proud of Code Duello. We actually perform it in Boston less than we perform it anywhere else, but Matt Tucker and I met in Boston so I still think of it as a Boston project. Until now anyway.

Are you guys going to keep up with Code Duello?


Neil: Matt’s moving to New York and I’m moving to Los Angeles so we’re on hiatus for at least the summer. After that, we’re just going to become a touring show. We've had an offer to become part of the UCB TourCo -- they are going to sell us alongside of their house shows. It remains to be seen how interesting our show is to something like a college audience, but the touring model seems sustainable enough that it is something we can hopefully do on sort of an as requested basis.

What will you miss about this city?

Neil: The people are the thing we’ll miss the most. Our comedy community remains our strongest pool of friends and the people we see the most. A lot of people are splitting off and doing new things, but for the time I've been here there has always been a core community of cool people doing cool shit.

Sarah: Having such a supportive venue like ImprovBoston has been a blessing as well. You can have a creative idea and know you have a space for it even if it is a project that reaches outside of the core ImprovBoston community -- Neil got to premiere his pilot Unbalanced at ImprovBoston and we screened our recent 48 Hour Film Project entry there as well. Hopefully we’ll meet a new pool of collaborators in LA but we’ll definitely miss what we had in Boston.

Friday
Jul302010

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.