TWO SHOWS LEFT! An Improvised ANTON CHEKHOV play! Tonight at 9:00 PM!
Tonight at 9:00 PM, for the 2nd to last time, the Improvised Play will allow the disembodied spirit of Anton Chekhov to rest his sore ghost bones on the comfy couch of our living actor-bodies. From there, he will eat kissel, drink tea, and tell us all what to say and do, and the result will be a new Anton Chekhov play. As always, we enter into this agreement at the probable expense of our immortal souls, but generally the results have been very funny so I hope you will come.
An Improvised ANTON CHEKHOV play! Tonight at 9:00 PM!
Tonight at 9:00 PM, the IMPROVISED Play will channel thousands of depressed late-19th-century Russians and generate a brand new ANTON CHEKHOV play! You’ll meet colorful characters, learn of their passions and desires, and see them all summarily disappointed in a world where suicide is easy and the weather makes everybody’s bones hurt! All in gardens and ballrooms! It’s going to be very, very funny.
Tonight! 11/26/12 - An Improvised SAM SHEPARD Play!
You know what The IMPROVISED Play loves about these southern American small towns, man? They get weirder, and we stay the same strange.
When we’re imitating Sam Shepard, it’s like we’re giving you a big honking atlas where everything’s been blacked out except the most diseased and grotesque American townships, and a bunch of demonic incantations have been written in all the margins. So come to the SoHo Playhouse tonight, and be served another surreal spoonful of southern discomfort! PLUS: NEW extra-strength trailer park symbolism, NEW psychedelic domestic traumas, and NEW drunks to meet and get into cars with!
SHEPARD: the name associated with “True West”, “Buried Child”, “The Tooth of Crime”, “Curse of the Starving Class” and now whatever harshly poetic title YOU, THE AUDIENCE provide for us in the thirty seconds right before we get started. Will it be “Hot Death of Jeremy Corn-Eater?” I hope so! (Please do not suggest “Hot Death of Jeremy Corn-Eater.”)
It’s an improvised play! One hour of original, hilarious, extemporaneous theater from this bunch of hard-nosed workhorses:
Tonight! 11/19/12 - An Improvised SAM SHEPARD Play!
Join us as we continue our journey into Sam Shepard’s booze-soaked universe of obscure domestic abuse and psychedelic cacti! The IMPROVISED Play spontaneously generates their 2nd SAM SHEPARD Play at the SoHo Playhouse at 9 PM tonight.
SHEPARD: the name associated with “True West”, “Buried Child”, “The Tooth of Crime” and now whatever harshly poetic title YOU, THE AUDIENCE provide for us in the thirty seconds right before we get started. Will it be “Cut of the Fire-Bird’s Jib?” I hope so! (Please do not suggest “Cut of the Fire-Bird’s Jib.”)
It’s an improvised play! One hour of original, hilarious, extemporaneous theater from this bunch of hard-nosed workhorses:
Here, now, a SYNOPSIS of 11/12/12’s Improvised SAM SHEPARD Play: “Crippling Apocalypse”
SAM SHEPARD did not write “Crippling Apocalypse” - we improvised it with the help of our audience on November 12th - but we are in talks with the Library of Congress to have it officially attributed to him. He is currently trying to stop us because he is shortsighted and does not realize it will be instantly recognized as his greatest work, and will probably get him some attention in Hollywood, or make Tracy Letts want to be his friend.
Please read this synopsis so that you can agree and sign our petition:
ACT I In a New Mexico desert, steady, dependable Gus and his younger brother Tom (not just any Tom, but an undiagnosed and largely untreated Peeping Tom who occasionally feigns severe brain damage to make subtle argumentative points) spend a hot afternoon on their screened-in porch, debating the provenance of several unpleasant smells in the trailer park they call home. Tom, who has been tightly strapped into a chair to prevent or at least slow down his peeping, loses patience with his older brother and bludgeons him with an unpleasant theory that the entire trailer park is situated on top of an enormous nuclear bomb, and that no one - not the government, the military, or any component of the world at large - cares about the poor, desperate people who live there. Gus chides him and feeds him pudding.
Their “neighbor” Carter, who lives in a “cabin” dug into a hill somewhat near the trailer park (it is only not a cave because of the walls of paneled wood he’s put in and the fairly nice pull-out couch), comes in to harass them both and brag about a recent reversal of his usually rotten fortune: He discovered an unsupervised overturned truck that had vomited up its enormous shipment of high quality zippers, which he collected and is now selling. To advertise, he’s sewn many more zippers than a body needs into his clothes. And business is good. Gus contends that Carter has behaved immorally, but Carter insists the truck was driven and crashed intentionally by an angel, and that he was meant to find it and sell its contents to the great unzippered masses of New Mexico. Nobody who lives in this trailer much cares for Carter, and pretty soon he instigates a physical fight with Tom. Carter wins easily because all his superfluous zippers have turned his tee-shirt-and-jeans ensemble into, basically, a suit of chain mail. Also he wins because Tom is strapped to a chair.
Just as Tom hits the floor, a delirious, ambiguously-angelic woman wanders into Gus’s trailer. As Gus feeds Tom some pudding to make him drowsy, we learn some things about this fair stranger: Her name is Gabriella, and she’s a Lady Trucker (and needlepoint enthusiast, and repeated gender-expectation befuddler and reverse-befuddler). Her story goes, she was thrown from her zipper truck and knocked unconscious, waking later only to find most of her zippers gone and her trucking reputation on the line. This awakens many strange, contradictory feelings in Carter’s guilty heart, and he grows agitated. He threatens Gus into secrecy about his zipper pilfering, and leaves, warning Gabriella on the way out that Gus’s comforting touch can reprogram even the most progressive of ladybrains.
Gus applies cold cream to Gabriella’s face and braids Gabriella’s hair, which has an immediate tranquilizing effect (this is exactly what Carter was trying to warn her about, guys!). They learn a little bit about each other: Gabriella has some experience with peeping and some strong opinions as to its treatment, having herself grown up with a peeper father (who even peeped at the dead, which for some reason has harsher legal penalties than peeping at the nudity of the living). Gus was aggressively recruited by Mary Kay upon graduating high school and spent 15 years as their star salesman. Tom is sleeping the serene sleep of a happy peeper, still strapped to the overturned chair.
Carter returns to pass along some trailer park scuttlebutt: Local Digging Enthusiast Dave has exposed, while poking around with his locally famous shovel, about ten feet of a vaguely curvy steel surface right in the middle of the trailer park.
"A bomb shelter?" offers Gabriella.
"Shelter, maybe," says Carter. "Or maybe just a bomb."
ACT II Gabriella naps on Gus’s porch, while Carter sits close by and envisions a possible romantic future for the two of them, saying it out loud in hopes that it may double as hypnotic suggestion:
Gus drags his chair-bound brother in and catches Carter verbally creeping on a sleeping woman, which offends his sense of propriety. He kicks Carter out and confiscates Tom’s binoculars, effectively neutralizing all the creepiness. Righteous, stalwart, he then leaves a sleeping woman alone with a man strapped to a chair, which is perhaps the creepiest and most immoral thing anyone has done so far in the play.
Left to the silence of the porch, Tom tries to see if he can make his eyeballs work like binoculars for just a moment before giving up and yelling at the things he wants to “peep” at: Stan, the cow who milks itself, and Tree, the tree that blossoms twenty times a year — Both signs, according to him, that the bomb underground is changing the biological makeup of the living things above. Is Tom’s reputation as a peeper just a public misunderstanding of his drive to investigate these strange effects? Actually, as far as I can tell, this mutation-surveillance is totally additional to his pervert peeping.
Gabriella wakes up with a start and immediately describes a dream she had of being filled with a spectacular “green” fire and chased by the teeth of a gigantic zipper, and somehow achieving self-actualization as a result of the chase. Carter returns with a can of beer and interrupts Gabriella’s description, and gets his answer pretty quickly as to whether his hypnotic suggestion worked: “No woman will ever want you,” she says. Gus arrives and Gabriella’s resolve is strengthened - She insults Carter’s trailer-park-adjacent cave-house, and seeing which way the boy/girl hookup wind’s blowing, a nihilistic streak awakens in Carter’s heart: “I’m gonna go dig that bomb up with Dave - and I hope that I trigger the mechanism that blows it up, and mutate you all into a bunch of lizard people!” Gus hugs Carter, calming him somewhat, because Gus’s manly touch cannot be argued with, as we’re gradually learning.
With Carter gone, Gabriella joyfully interprets her dream for Gus: She’s meant to forget her missing zippers and stay here at the trailer park forever. Gus agrees whole-heartedly, even lustfully (it’s wholesome lust, though). Their mutual crush is blooming. And all three are bonding over a distaste for Carter, almost forming into a family in response to his repulsiveness.
Carter comes back with an update on Dave’s excavation: The letters “B” and “O” have been exposed, which really isn’t enough to reach any kind of conclusion as to whether the item is a bomb or a bomb shelter. Tom, emboldened by his sense that the tide is turning against his tormentor, tells on Carter for stealing the zippers, and also describes Carter’s three-cornered cave-house in very unflattering terms, saying he “poops and pisses” in one corner (Carter explains that Tom is referring to a proper bathroom with working plumbing that just happens to be in one corner of his home) and “pushes the other stuff out of his pecker” in another corner (Carter explains, not proudly, that Tom is referring to his “porno booth”). Gabriella puts her needlepoint away and begins to lovingly feed Tom pudding, which Carter argues is much grosser than a porno booth. He is wrong.
ACT III We return to Gus’s porch a few days later and find Gabriella and Gus laying the foundation for domestic bliss, eating homemade liverwurst and making plans for the future. But Gabriella is beginning to notice that Gus is too attentive to the needs of others, and is harming himself in the name of being magnanimous, open-minded and just plain handy. A good example: the “B-O-M-whatever” that is being dug up has started ticking loudly, which disturbs Gabriella’s sleep, and Gus is ready to hit it with a pickaxe for her sake, despite the fact that doing so will probably explode New Mexico. Gabriella wants him to be less empathetic for his own good. When he dutifully tries, he instantly loses all ability to read emotion, and becomes very difficult to talk to without the aid of emotional hand signals and flash cards.
Carter comes in to recruit Gus for a gang of menfolk who, sick of the suspense, are going to bust the B-O-M-whatever open once and for all. He also tells Gabriella that he’s paid to have her truck fixed with his zipper money and that it’s time for her to go. She finally gets him to admit that the zippers were hers, as Gus grabs his pickaxe off the wall to join the gang of mindless bombwhackers. Alas, the stiff little trailer window to her happiness has closed. Tom, who has been peeping on these developments from behind a door, falls onto the porch, still bound to his chair, whimpering “don’t go!,” just as the lights go out. Gabriella vanishes, and bright flashes from outside fill the trailer.
The device has been triggered. The men yell, “The Angel left, and now we’re in hell!” as New Mexico explodes.
So the petition to officially make this terrific play officially a part of Sam Shepard’s bibliography is basically ready. I just don’t know how to turn it into a PDF. I’ll post it here when it’s done. In the meantime, remember what you’ve learned about the human spirit from this play: Tie it to a chair, flick its ears, feed it pudding; the human spirit will still peep. The heart is a peeper. Etc.
Remember to check out our 2nd Sam Shepard show tonight at the SoHo Playhouse! 9 PM!
TONIGHT! 11/12/12 - 9:00 PM - The Improvised Play does SAM SHEPARD!
The IMPROVISED Play invites you to meet some brand new characters who may or may not have just spent a bunch of time in the desert! That’s right, we’re improvising a SAM SHEPARD Play at the SoHo Playhouse tonight. SHEPARD: the name associated with “True West”, “Buried Child”, “The Tooth of Crime” and now whatever harshly poetic title YOU, THE AUDIENCE provide for us in the thirty seconds right before we get started. Will it be “Bark on the Pig Ankle?” I hope so! (Do not suggest “Bark on the Pig Ankle.”)
Who will be the MOST alcoholic? Whose manhood will be the MOST troubled/troublesome? What common household object will there be an enormous pile of in Act II? This journey into Shepardism should not be missed.
But also: It’s an improvised play! One hour of original, hilarious, extemporaneous theater from this bunch of hard-nosed workhorses:
Tonight! 11-5-12! Our final Improvised DAVID MAMET play!
Tonight at 9:00 PM, the cast of the Improvised Play presents our FINAL David Mamet show! Come get an earful of our gently worn second-hand Mametspeak. Ain’t she sweet!
What wonders will tonight’s play bring? Where will the fast-talking creeps be talking fast to each other this time? A movie studio? An organic farm? Will they be magically animated Indians in a cupboard? This cast can turn ANYTHING into a swear-heavy competition between cynical, loquacious jerks. Don’t believe us? Come at 9:00 PM and help us create the title!
Also, if you come at 8:30 you can enjoy drink specials with us in the Huron Club downstairs. We’re gonna say bad words at Hurricane Sandy together.
A SYNOPSIS of 10/22’s IMPROVISED DAVID MAMET Play - “Werewolf Silence”
Here, now, a synopsis of our Tony-baiting, Mamet-imitating, completely improvised new play, “Werewolf Silence,” for which we were joined by guest performers Nate Dern, Terry Withers, and the projected astral form of David Mamet himself (it was his idea to have all the conspiracy theory and monster stuff). Enjoy!:
"WEREWOLF SILENCE" by David Mamet
Though they have drastically different backgrounds, Dorothy (Jackie Jennings) and Catherine (Gia Ingram) have wound up in the same dreary, repetitive, annoyingly mysterious job: Every day they type up stacks and stacks (and stacks, and stacks, etc.) of obtuse, vaguely threatening business letters, which are then sent by other hands to secret addresses all over the world. The company which employs them, known only as “The Organization,” goes to great lengths to assure that the Letter Typing Department remains completely unaware of the goings-on in the departments above and below it. As David Mamet’s "Werewolf Silence" opens, the two women sit side by side at their typewriters and have a debate as to whether their situation can fairly be described as “Kafkaesque.” Dorothy’s ability to argue her side is impaired by her never having really even heard the term “Kafkaesque” before in her life. According to Dorothy, being a high school graduate has made Catherine arrogant and reckless, and her ambition and propensity for casual swearing is going to get her in trouble with the higher-ups, who, Dorothy reasons, undoubtedly have the entire office bugged. Catherine points out how Orwellian Dorothy’s paranoia is, but Dorothy doesn’t know from “Orwellian,” so Catherine has only really succeeded in insulting her co-worker a second time. Their relationship is strained, and their typing is getting worse.
Catherine passive-aggressively asks Dorothy what she did instead of high school. The answer: She was a Junior Guide for the Kittatani Rafting Company, which is the only job she’s had besides this one. (I realize that doesn’t seem ominous or even significant now but please come back and re-read this section after you’re done with the synopsis. It’ll give you the five-star willies.)
The bickering lady typists are silenced by the arrival of Bob Johnson, the head of their department, who storms in with a “new letter” to dictate and put into immediate circulation:
"Dear Sirs: Have you seen me lately? Are you looking for me? I’ve been thinking of you; I think of you always. The Organization is very healthy…"
It goes on like that. Mysterious, right? You may wonder: What effect could letters like that possibly have on their recipients? And then the magic of the theater whisks you with the suddenness of a aneurism to the household of Jerry (Terry Withers) and Cindy (Carrie McCrossen), a married couple living in the suburbs of Dallas, TX. An evening’s pleasant conversation has erupted into a paranoid, over-caffeinated domestic spat due to the arrival one of these nefarious (?) Organization letters. Jerry insists that Cindy is indirectly responsible, what with her liberally tossing their mailing address this way and that; Cindy defends her chaste and demure attitude toward mailing address disclosure. Her high-strung husband reveals a deeply-held suspicion that an Inuit tribe known as the Kittatani are involved with this recent pattern of postal harassment. “My life’s been connected in various ways to the Kittatani for years.” Over very hot coffee, Jerry digresses:
Eventually Jerry gets to his point: His father warned him about someone called the “Kittatani Kid,” and informed him that Jerry’s entire family is descended from the Kittatani. For her part, Cindy remembers having a very unpleasant experience on a one-hour tour with the Kittatani Rafting Company as part of her weekend-long Bachelorette Extravaganza. Jerry reasons that the K.R.C. is almost definitely some kind of front for a tribe of Ancient Inuit Karmic Debt Collectors. Or maybe it’s not reasoning that gets him there, exactly, but anyway, he jumps to that conclusion.
Our curiosity about the Organization is so aroused at this point that it’s almost unbearable, and in the next scene Mamet mercifully gives us another peek at the company’s inner workings. We witness Michael Kuplowski (Nate Dern), an extremely high-ranking Organization official in a sterile office systematically brow-beating and intimidating his assistant Danny (Matt Dennie), forcing him to write a book report about Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” The report is for Mr. Kuplowski’s lazy but lovable son, and it needs to be done by the end of the day. Given that this is the only assignment artless, dopey Danny has been given beyond a endless string of “cold calls” to confused strangers, he takes this opportunity to inquire as to his chances of advancement at the Organization, and as a corollary to that inquiry, just what exactly in the name of Christ this company does. Kuplowski laughs in Danny’s face, says several more dark, intimidating things, and then has a total nervous breakdown, revealing that he’s just learned that he’s been fired, replaced as the “head of the Organization.”
This will ruin him for all other possibly employment, for all time, in perpetuity, forever and ever, amen. Tearfully, full of terror, he insists that Danny finish the book report, so that the lazy Kuplowski boy has a shot at a better future. Danny reads the famous first line of “The Metamorphosis” aloud: “One day I woke to find myself a bug…”
That night, a distressed Dorothy wakes her lover Danny (I bet you didn’t even know they were together!) and describes her horrible dream to him: She had turned into a werewolf, and with all the power in the world, was able to eat as much chocolate as she wanted and see movies without paying for them. The horrible part? She tried to howl and could not. (This was followed by a quickie epilogue dream where she was a crappy spoon in a cup of cold, tasteless soup.) Danny does his best to comfort her so he can get some sleep. Are we seeing a nascent “power couple” destined to climb the ranks of the Organization and change it fundamentally from within? Probably not.
Meanwhile, Cindy has grown tired of the Organization’s letters disrupting her domestic semi-bliss and has taken matters into her own hands, staking out the P.O. box listed on one of the letters to confront whomever comes to empty it. She meets Bob Johnson, who tries to act cooler than he really is and talks a lot about the “far-reaching tendrils of the Organization” and how his letters make powerful people all over the world uncomfortable, and how it’s best not to spit in the faces of gods. Stuff and nonsense! He obfuscates so much that Cindy doesn’t even realize he’s the one who is sending the letters. She asks to tell whoever is responsible that the letters are ruining her marriage, and this makes Bob feel kind of bad. Remembering he’s supposed to be intimidating, he imparts a bit of Kittatani wisdom, “Ookik tookook, pekok tio, ookeet tioofi”. Translation: “Everyone drinks out of the same goddamn stream.” Cindy is actually able to translate some of it herself, and her partial knowledge of Inuit discomfits Bob considerably. His final bit if wisdom is more practical: Companies share mailing lists, so don’t be surprised if you sign up for one thing but get a bunch of weird junk mail about something else entirely. On that note, they part ways.
Surprisingly resourceful, Jerry locates the office that houses the Organization’s Letter Typing Department and makes two offers to Dorothy and Catherine. The first offer: Ceremonial Kittatani cigarettes, traditionally smoked before Kittatani doings of dealings. Dorothy has great difficulty smoking hers, stamps it out, and is offered another with the promise that “you get used to it.” She stamps out four more cigarettes before Jerry loses faith that she will come around. The second offer: a scheme! Jerry’s a substitute teacher, and using amateur surveillance equipment, he’s determined which children in the Dallas school system belong to members of upper management at the Organization. If Catherine and Dorothy will help him put the squeeze on his tormentors, they can use the leverage to raise their own stations in life. Catherine is super into it. Dorothy is addled by the small amount of Kittatani smoke she has inhaled and unable to extract herself from the scheme.
The next day at the Organization’s higher offices, Kuplowski calls Bob Johnson in and informs him of Catherine and Jerry’s scheme. Apparently, it is the practice of the Organization to absorb people who plot against it: Either Dorothy or Jerry will be offered a position in the company, and Bob is meant to choose. Danny, who really should be finishing that book report, watches in awe as these powerful men make decisions that will change she lives of people they may never meet.
Kuplowski asks Bob a pointed question: What’s a scarier monster? One that makes a transformation that you can see, big fangs, hair, and the whole bit, or one that changes into something horrible but looks just like it did before?
Bob picks the secret monster. And Dorothy. With that, Kuplowski punches Danny in the face and leaves the Organization forever, inviting Bob to sit at his desk and take his place. Bob’s first act as the new “Head of the Organization” is to make sure Danny finishes the Kuplowski boy’s book report, for continuity’s sake. He also tells Danny exactly what the Organization really does: They sell winter jackets, and write confusing, scary letters to the rich and powerful because research shows that paranoid people misperceive temperatures slightly.
In the play’s final scene, Jerry stands in his kitchen, feeling very cold, choking down scalding hot coffee. He’s half-listening to Cindy, who has been empowered by her encounter with Bob Johnson, whom she is pretty sure she intimidated, or at least cheesed off. But Jerry is awaiting the arrival of his co-conspirators. When Catherine and Dorothy arrive, Dorothy’s finally learned to love Kittatani cigarettes and is smoking them like a fiend. In fact, they all light up: Cindy, Jerry, Dorothy, Catherine — it’s a regular Kittatani smoke-around. Dorothy has just learned of her promotion and is ready to call the scheme off, which starts an argument.
Cindy doesn’t understand why underhandedness is being discussed at all. She insists she’s stood up for the family and solved all their problems — no need for crooked schemes! The other three ignore her and in her frustration she touches the tip of her Kittatani cig to the pile of Organization letters Jerry keeps in the kitchen, hoping to finally do away with the hold the company’s had on her husband’s imagination for the past several years. The fire immediately gets completely out of control, and an entire wall of the house explodes, likewise engulfing a shed on the opposite side. Catherine reveals in horror that she had placed several kidnapped children of Organization brass in that shed, including the lazy Kuplowski boy.
As these poor, rotten, misguided adults (who are now child killers) succumb to the effects of smoke inhalation, they notice that Jerry seems unaffected. He attributes it to his Kittatani roots, and Catherine speaks of a story she heard once about certain tribes of Inuits who became indestructible werewolves.
In response, Jerry howls! He howwwwwwls!
How about it? More Mamet-y goodness from the name you trust, IMPROVISED PLAY!
Tonight we bid adieu to the Boardroom Bard of Chicago, with our FINAL IMPROVISED MAMET SHOW! Come to the SoHo Playhouse at 9 PM and give us a crazy title that is difficult to provide context for. Please. See you there!