Posts Tagged ‘bindlestiff studio’

Lessons From Sketchy People

Last night, Granny Cart Gangstas(GCG) did a show, “Sketchy People,” together with another comedy troupe, Taste Better Wit. Initially, we were supposed to work together on something collaboratively but time did not allow that. Our first GCG rehearsal was only two weeks before showtime and we only rehearsed about twice a week. It also didn’t help that our rehearsal locations were so far and traveling took up about the same amount of rehearsal time if not more. So here are three lessons I’ve learned from this show.

1. Learn to improv
During the time crunch, there were many times where we had to make do, sometimes make stuff up on the spot. One of our troupe members was only able to make one rehearsal, the last full rehearsal before our show date. Since she wasn’t there at the previous rehearsals, a lot of us ended up in multiple roles and we had quick changes in between sketches. Our solution was to have her entertain the audience during transitions long enough to allow us to change our outfits. We needed her to do a 2 minute improv piece and she had 2 days to come up with something. After that rehearsal, doing the line up, and adding a piece last minute on day of show, there were more quick changes than we anticipated so she had to come up with 4 transition pieces which she did while we are brainstormed together. Making fun of the internal aspects of improv such as Contact Improv, playing Props and Interpretive Dancing seemed to be the way to go and she got plenty of laughs! Mission accomplished.

2. Just Go With It
More than once, I’ve been in brainstorm sessions where I am the “logical” one in the group and I’m always playing devil’s advocate. I asked questions like “How are you going to get permission?” or “It’s safer to do that in a soundstage, not in the actual woods.” or “This is impossible, we don’t have an elevator to film in!” These statements come in contrast with opposing statements such as “Let’s all go film it at Bally’s Gym!” or “Let’s film car scenes while we go camping!” or “Let’s do a parody video of the Solange/Jay-Z fight tonight!” I’ve come to the conclusion that while I am always preaching that I can do anything, I, in fact, tell others what they cannot do. In their words, I “bring them back to reality.”

Being an aspiring comedian is a bit of an oxymoron. If you’re making the effort to make people laugh, you’re a comedian, whether you label it or not. Other examples of unintentional comedians would be the “Class Clown” of your grade in high school. This person makes you laugh and you called him/her “You’re such a comedian.” Oftentimes, I find that comedy comes from real life but my troupe members sometimes find their comedy in fantasy and who am I to tell them not to live in a fantasy world if it helps hone their craft? I don’t mean to be a killjoy, just asking the right questions that need to be asked, I thought. However, I often wonder what would happen if those logical questions never get asked? What would the end product result in? Just go with it and find out.

3. Chill out, it’s comedy – missed cues
People who go to comedy shows are there to have a good time through laughter and so should the actors! This show didn’t get to really have a cue to cue session until the day of so naturally, some cues were amiss. And when a cue is missed, nothing you can do really, just hope that the tech person realizes their mistake. So while I could get upset and crazy over what happened, there was really nothing you could do. We are all human. Plus, it’s live theater. Shit happens. Thankfully, the audience was made up of all our forgiving friends who have been onstage as well, for the most part, and understand what it’s like to have a cue amiss. I didn’t get upset at the tech crew, just brushed it off my shoulder and I never dwelled on it surprisingly. i figured, what’s the point of being bitter about something you cannot change? We can only learn from it. Next time, have more cue to cue sessions.

Granny Cart Gangstas

Curtain Call

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The Love Edition Film Shoot

So, I’m one of the producers for an upcoming show called “The Love Edition: Love Bytes.” It’s a show at Bindlestiff Studio that mounted its first run back in 2006 during February, produced by Chuck Lacson and Raf Lim, along with Associate Producers Nina De Torres Ignacio and John Raposas. And since it was in February, it became about love. First year, its theme was radio. The show was set up like a radio talk show where you could hear people call into a radio talk show and talk about their love problems. Then the stories onstage would play out from what you heard. The second time it mounted in 2007, the theme was TV and the show was set up like a talk show where a tv talk show host would discuss people’s love problems as if they were at a live recording of the show. Some audience members actually that it was a really show being recorded because there were monitors put up in the theater to make it feel like a live taping. Ultimately, the Love Edition went on hiatus because the producers were unable to commit to mounting another run and no one else attempted to take over.

It wasn’t until now that the original producers were able to commit to mounting a third installment of The Love Edition and this year, the theme is about love online, hence the title, “Love Bytes.” I have always wanted to be a part of the show in some way. I participated as an Assistant Director to one of the pieces in the 2nd Love Edition back in 2007 but I wasn’t sure how I would be able to participate this year. When they did the call out for written pieces, I wanted to submit but couldn’t find the time to write out a script by the deadline. I was sad about that so I thought maybe I could audition when the time came, but I never feel like I would fit the roles that are usually out there so I wasn’t too hopeful about that. 

One day, while at the theater, I was approached by one of the producers to become one of the Associate Producers for the next Love Edition. I can’t tell you how surprised I was to be asked to do something like that as I was not even really sure what a producer does. Apparently, projects I’ve done where I had to make something happen from beginning to end was considered “producing.” I was elated and excited to be a part of such a beloved show. Love has always been my area of weakness as I know NOTHING so I thought maybe I could learn a thing or two. 

Anyway, the point of my post. Just finished the film shoot portion of The Love Edition. It will be a web promo for the show and I have to say, this particular film shoot was by far, the funniest project I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. I’m so glad I was there to witness all the comedic moments of the shoot. There were people whom I asked if they could help out on the shoot and I actually feel sorry for them that they said no and weren’t there to enjoy these good times. GREAT times. I wish I could relive all those moments of laughter. It was too fun. This film shoot really made me think twice about what I want to do with my career. They said that when you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. It is very true. While the whole weekend involved a lot of hard work, I have to say I had the greatest time. It was a good way to start off 2014 and I can’t wait to see the final results after the editor gets a hold of the footage.

Here are a few screen captures. Find us at http://www.youtube.com/theloveedition

Enjoy!

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UPDATE: Here are the final results! Watch on a laptop or desktop and turn on your annotations to get the full interactive experience!

Birth of a Troupe

Six years ago, my friend Aureen and I talked about how great it would be to start our own comedy troupe. I had mentioned to her about how much I loved sketch comedy and Kids in the Hall. She completely understood and shared my views. We discussed pulling together some of our friends and creating this group someday and we could have our own shows and tour. Ah, what a fantasy that was.

Fast forward 5 years, our networks grew bigger, our resources got richer, and our creativity became stronger. Due to our curiosity of all things creative, we began dipping our hands in film making and fell in love. In 2011, we approached 3 of our friends to help us build a troupe and make comedic videos. We called ourselves “Granny Cart Gangstas.” Unfortunately, the 5 of us became so busy that we allowed our ideas to remain on paper, undeveloped and never fully realized. By May of 2012, Aureen & I had a moment to talk during a film shoot. We were discussing with another friend, Roczane, about wanting to have an all female comedy troupe. And thus began a snowball of activity into giving the troupe a life. Aureen & I began pulling together all the ingredients we needed to have a successful troupe to do our film making and eventually culminate into doing live shows in theaters. A month later, we had our troupe. Six months later, we completed our first project, a music video parody of Beyonce’s “Run the World.”

Enjoy!

Death of “Death Of A Player”

“Death of a Player” is a success!! I’m so proud to have participated in this production. We just finished our last show on Saturday and our show got to the top #1 spot at Bindlestiff Studio for ticket sales on Brown Paper Tickets! So ecstatic about that! This was one of the best productions I had ever participated in. We received some great writeups & reviews and I had a blast working with all the people involved. We all collectively had one goal: to make it great. We all wanted the show to succeed and that we did!

It hasn’t really hit me yet that I won’t be seeing these beautiful faces all together again this week. It hasn’t really hit me yet that this production has concluded. It hasn’t really hit me yet that the show has run its course and will not be reprising itself, at least not in the near future. I think the reason is because while the project was indeed new, the faces were not. The friendships were not. The creative juices were not. I know I will be seeing some of these faces again soon. I know our friendships were real and the production only added to the solidarity of its foundation. And I know the way we flow together will resurface again in another time & another project. The BEST part about working on this project was that it was just like we were playing with our friends, like you do during your childhood.

The producer, Maggie Suarez-Calixton, told us that someone from the SF Examiner came to see the show last Friday and his opinion was that he wanted to nominate us for best theater production! Regardless of whether or not it happens, that was truly an amazing compliment to hear. We went through so much mud to get to clean & dry lands and it was worth it in the end. I got to return to Bindlestiff Studio in a big way, wearing two hats as a writer & an actress.

Now that the show is finally over, I can finally release my monologue. Sigh…what a relief to have had the opportunity to release my angst. Thank you PMSTA!

PMSTA Presents…

Rehearsals & moving have been kicking my ass. Trying to pack, move stuff, unpack, make props & rehearsing has been my week lately. I haven’t even been able to really write at all, nor eat for that matter. As the show is coming up this week, it is really starting to sink in. I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately to improve on my craft but all the pressure is affecting my performance. I’m starting to get panic attacks when I’ve never really had any before. I really don’t like being the center of attention. Just writing this out and thinking about it is giving me a heart palpitations.

The best part of this project is the people I’m working with. We started back in 2007 and I’m honored to be with them again. PMSTA has been a great group of folks to work with. When I’m having a bad day at work, it’s their energy that feeds me to return to a more balanced demeanor and I’m ok again. I wonder if this type of development occurs in other theater groups. I’m sure it does, it has to. How can you work with so many people for so long and not develop a sense of kinship with them?

I don’t even know why I’m writing this post. I should be working on my character development. Well, by now, I should already have it down. I do have it, but outside issues are affecting my deep within and it shows onstage. I need to buckle up and get focused!! FOCUS!! FUCK!! You don’t know how many times I have released a random scream. It feels good. I just need to focus focus focus.

At this point, my issues are minimal. I’ve lost my moustache about 4 – 6 times, I am spending my breaks getting props & stuff, I’m trying too hard to establish my blocking, and deep down, I know I got this & I’m nervous for nothing. “Relax, relate, release” as Whitley Gilbert would say. :0)

It’s showtime.

Death of A Player presented by PMSTA.

e.ternal

Life has a funny way of saying “Hey! I’m short.” Why does it have to take tragedy to make us open our eyes and to stop taking life for granted? A friend of mine, we called him E, passed away early yesterday. My day had been filled with sorrow & glum. I spent the day reflecting, reminiscing and remembering him with others who deeply missed him as well. Rehearsals were cancelled and the Bindlestiff family gathered at the theater to grieve together. Some faces, I hadn’t seen in awhile. I wish we had reunited under different circumstances.

He was a community advocate in every way. He has touched so many lives including mine. I’ll never forget how welcoming he was to me. My first few months with Bindlestiff Studio had me step in as a shy & quiet young woman, seeking acceptance and growth. He had a way of teaching you his wisdom in life. He made me feel like I belonged. He made me feel like family and I can never forget how warm his big bear hugs were. I hope that wherever he is now, he knows that for those he left behind, we are anticipating the day we meet again.

Until then, e.ternal. Love you.

With e

Death of a Player Kickstarter

The Kickstarter page for our show is finally up! We’re in full force now. We need to raise $5000 so please feel free to donate or share the link! Support independent theater and come to our show!!

PMSTA Death of a Player – Kickstarter

Oh Nothing, Just Our PMSTA Trailer & Stuff

I am so proud to announce that the trailer for our October show is now live! I had so much fun working on it that it inspired me to want to do more in film. The director of the film, Matthew Abaya of I Don’t Care Productions, is also going to be doing a feature length film called “Vampariah” and he asked me to help him with casting. I can honestly say I was ecstatic! Besides the screenwriter, casting was also one of my dream roles to take on when it comes to making a film.

I’m excited to begin holding auditions and getting through this process, more than excited. So excited, I went out and bought a book called “Producing & Directing the Short Film & Video” to catch me up on all I need to know. There is a 4th edition to this book but this one was 40% off and mama can’t pass up a bargain like that. Let’s just see what I’m going to learn. I hate when I read and nothing has entered my mind because I’m drumming up a to-do list in my head. Am I the only one that happens to? Anyway, before I go off on a tangent, check out our promo below:

Rags To Bitches

Our women’s group, PMSTA, is having a comedy show fundraiser, Rags To Bitches, on 8/18/11 at Spice Monkey Restaurant in Oakland! Please spread the word and buy your tickets early!

08/18 Rags to Bitches Comedy Show

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT

July13, 2011

Maggie Suarez-Calixton pmsthruart@gmail.com (510) 386-1595

Pinays Maintaining Sisterhood Through Art

presents

RAGS TO BITCHES

Filipina Standup Comedy Show

WHEN: Thursday, August 18th

7:30pm to 9:30pm

WHERE: Spice Monkey Restaurant

1628 Webster Street

Oakland, CA 94612

TIX: $10 Advance http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/189271

$15 – $20 Sliding Scale at the Door

Please join us in celebrating Pinays Maintaining Sisterhood Thru Art’s new production by attending the RAGS TO BITCHES COMEDY SHOW featuring the best of Filipina American standup comedy headlined by comedian Kat Evasco. Featured comedians are Lilibeth Helson, Aivy Cordova and Tatiana Dayers.

RAGS TO BICHES will take place on Thursday, August 18th from 7:30PM-9:30PM at the Spice Monkey Restaurant located at 1628 Webster Street in Oakland, CA. It’s a show that will lead you with tears of laughter. Please support us by purchasing advance tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/189271. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 – $20 Sliding Scale at the door.

After a 3 year break and with a few new cast mates, Filipina American Women’s theater group, PMSTA (Pinays Maintaining Sisterhood Through Art) is coming back in full force with a new show, “DEATH OF A PLAYER.” A variety of funny and absurd imagination on what goes on in a woman’s mind facing chaotic challenges in life. DEATH OF A PLAYER will be presented in October 2011 at the newly reconstructed Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth Street in the South of Market Area, SF. With this ecstatic news, PMSTA will need to raise a total of $10,000. Please help us reach our goal of $10,000 to further educate and inspire all women in our society by laughing with us at RAGS TO BITCHES.

ABOUT KAT EVASCO

Our comic headliner, Kat Evasco, began her career in stand up comedy at the famous open mic at Brainwash in San Francisco in March of 2007. With dedication and respect for the craft, she continues to perform all over the San Francisco Bay Area at venues including the legendary Purple Onion, the San Jose Improv, the Napa Valley Opera House, the Montblue Casino (Lake Tahoe), and the Haha Cafe (N. Hollywood). Kat is part of the Five Funny Females Festival, has competed in the San Francisco International Comedy Competition 2010, the same competition known for discovering Robin Williams and Ellen Degeneres. In November of 2010, Kat opened for the amazing Marga Gomez at Le Pena in Berkeley and was invited by Marga to perform at the Berkeley GAY COMEDY FESTIVAL in June of this year.

ABOUT PMSTA

Pinays Maintaining Sisterhood Through Art (PMSTA), was founded in November 2007 by a group of former cast mates from the Women’s Show called, “The Fountain of Youth is a 16 oz Jar of Vaseline,” directed by Gayle Romasanta. With much inspiration, the cast mates, Andrea Almario, Aureen Almario, Ann Borja, Kat Evasco, Jamie Nallas, Gayle Romasanta, Tonilyn Sideco, Maggie Suarez-Calixton, Ava Tong, and Nicole Villanueva, decided to open new doors for other women who can voice out their struggles and accomplishments.

Pinays Maintaining Sisterhood Through Art (PMSTA) strives to foster and develop strong, creative expressions and increased visibility of Filipino American women through theater, performance, literature, visual art, and music.

ABOUT BINDLESTIFF STUDIO

Established in 1989, Bindlestiff Studio is the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American and Pilipino artists. Bindlestiff Studio provides the often under-served Filipino American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program.

Bindlestiff Studio

Fundraiser – Done

I don’t remember when I got so busy. My schedule used to consist of weekends where I could just chillax with my friends in front of a television with absolutely nothing to do. Now, I find my weekends to be filled with meetings, workshops and travel. I guess I brought it on myself, constantly signing up for things that unknowingly would take up most of my time. However, I must say, I actually do enjoy having a schedule to adhere to, makes me feel…necessary.

The fundraiser was a hit! We filled every seat and had a lot of people standing in the back. It was my first time hosting anything so I was pretty nervous. I figured if I couldn’t think of anything to say, I’d just be myself and let words roll off my tongue naturally. I was sketchy at first but after getting a few tips along the way, everything worked out. I was told I was “charming & engaging” and the next time I volunteer at Bindlestiff, I’d be the House manager! What an honor! So glad I was able to pull it off. Of course there were things I could have done differently but I’m learning as I go.

Our show had a nice variety of music, standup comedy & skits. Ann sang a song that Maggie wrote & Brandon composed, Toni sang songs she wrote and one cover, and she had a mini band with her friends, Danielle & Cheryl, Aivy, Richgail & Andrea did standup comedy, and we had a bunch of skits performed by Ann, Aureen, Andrea, Toni, Julie, Rose, and Maggie.

I’m so very lucky to be working with these girls. I wish we had recorded it but we were too busy trying to take care of other things. Here are a few pics from the fundraiser.

Photos by Augustus Tagaro


Our next fundraiser might possibly a fashion show, similar to the Chocolate Milk fashion show that Bindlestiff held a few years ago. That was my first time volunteering. I sold beer and lots of it!! Maybe I’ll host it this time. It would be so much fun because our ladies are gorgeous in both hyper & nonhyper-sexualized sort of way, which is what PMSTA is trying to be about…I think?

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