Playful People – Ark – Jessica Montague

They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.

I remember Jessica as she sang for the first time on the Ark stage. Her message machine played the lyric of Sarah Mclachlan – “I’ll take your breath away”.

Listen to Jess sing the title song of “Bridge Jake_-_Bridge_-_1

Everything’s Jake (04/21/2000)

JakeJake, Bloodblue (Desert Dog Records 1999) – Jake is a four-piece combo from New York City, fronted by singer/songwriter and guitarist, Jessie Lee Montague. Bloodblue marks the second release from the band, and shows a brash rock sound, highlighted by Jessie Lee’s strong presence.

Bloodblue is a seven-track EP and is a follow up to their full-length debut CD, Hook, which was released on Sire’s Blackbird Records.

Jessie Lee MontagueStanding at the center of this well-greased quartet is single Jessie Lee Montague, who is flanked by long-time drummer Jagoda, bass player Johnnie Raggs, and John Annese on guitars and voices. The album was produced by Chicky and recorded at “Chicky’s Place” (with Chicky on all programming and keyboards).

The highlight of the EP is a cover of “I’m Not Alone” (the old 10cc song). With its feedback-drenched sound and drum loops, “I’m Not Alone” has a deliciously spare techno sound, and is one of the best singles I heard in a long while. Jake’s version easily outpaces the big budget cover by Olive on The Next Big Thing soundtrack.

Jessie Lee MontagueVocalist Jessie Lee moved from New Mexico at 18 and studied improv in Madison, Wisconsin, with such stars-to-be as Chris Farley and Joan Cusack.

Jessie Lee met drummer Jagoda in Wisconsin, then bounced to Europe where she endured the chills of cold, dark fog and poverty while busking in London. Jake is Jessie Lee’s childhood nickname, and, as she says, “It was also John Belushi’s name in the Blues Brothers movie. What’s more cool than that?”

“Evil” and “Jellyroll” build on a power cord guitar structure, while “Jackflash” has a more introspective singer/songwriter feel.

The bandSays Jessie, “My family life was alienating and splintered. Many divorces, lots of silence, tremendous independence. I like everyone in my family. They are good people. But they are not the most emotionally nurturing group of people I have ever met. Therefore, I have a need to tell you and scream about what I need and want.”

And Jessie lets it hang out. She says, “‘By Myself’ was written very directly about a relationship I was in at the time. What else is there to say? And the followup, ‘Evil’ was written about the same person two years later. Things obviously didn’t get any better. The beauty of writing songs is it’s a way of putting some harsh feelings into a certain form of beauty. This process I find somewhat healing.”

The bandAdmits Jessie Lee, “Sometimes I get scared about being on an indie label. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Why don’t I have a video?’ It’s scary because in your head you have so many expectations once you are signed. You are like, ‘Oh, my life is totally going to change. I’m going to be doing this, I’m going to tour, I’m going to be on MTV.’ And then when you are still waitressing, it’s like, ‘Oh . . . that’s right, I’m still an indie artist.'”

Indie or not, Jessie Lee has real chops, and a goodly dose of angst to drive her rock.

Jessie Lee Montague”I’m Not in Love” is a tour de force from the studio and shows signs of brilliance. And it sounds different from the rest of the album. Says Jessie Lee, “This was a total experiment, again delving into Chicky’s world. It is one of my favorite songs of all time, and he wanted to cover it, so it was really just him and I masterminding the whole deal.”

Download the cd of Jessie Lee Montague at Bloodblue

Listen to Liberty from “Bridge”
Jake_-_Liberty_-_5



Meet Your Playful Self

Playful People – Ark – The Bros Avila

They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.

Juan – Alexis – Nick – Avila


Juan (left] was at the original ARK. A few years afterward he was followed by his brother Alexis,(center) who joined another company: Arktoo.

Alexis Avila is Founder/President of Prepped & Polished: Tutoring, College Counseling, Test Prep (formerly TUTORrific Academic Services). Alexis and his associates have over ten years of full-time tutoring, test prep, and admissions counseling experience, and have worked with well over 500 families.

Alexis Avila – Professional Experience:

Alexis is a private tutor, guidance counselor, and founder/president of Prepped & Polished: Tutoring, College Counseling, Test Prep

Now there is a third brother, Nick (right), who was not in any Ark company. A most playful Avila for sure!

You can get the cd now at Amazon

Meet Your Playful Self

Playful People – Ark – Steve Ackerman

They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.

Steven Ackerman

Steve is director of CIMSS and professor in the department of atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Wisconsin.
Steve has recieved these awards:

* Jan 2009:American Meteorological Society’s Teaching Excellence
* Summer 2004: UW-Madison Vilas Research Associate
* Spring 2003: Winner of the Society of Academic Author’s Talby prize to “recognize excellence in visuals in textbooks and other learning materials.”
* Summer 2003: NASA Group Achievement Award for Outstanding Teamwork on the Earth Observing System (EOS), Aqua Mission Team
* April 1999: Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
* Dec 1996: NASA Group Achievement Award: FIRE II Science and Operations Team
* April 1996: Winner of a Lilly Teaching Fellowship
* April 1995: Inducted as a Fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Academy
* September 1992: NASA ERBE Program Award “For outstanding contributions to the intercomparison and validation of ERBE scanner and non-scanner results.”

Research

Globally, the earth-atmosphere system is balanced by the radiative energy gained from the sun and lost through infrared emission. The geographic distribution of radiative energy is an important climate variable. A change in one climate variable inevitably results in a change in another variable. Thus, a shift in the radiation balance at the surface of the earth, top of the atmosphere or within the atmosphere can result in a sequence of complicated changes in global climate. My interests center on understanding how changes in the radiation balance affect and are affected by changes in other climate variables such as clouds, aerosols, water vapor and surface properties. These feedback mechanisms are studied using a compliment of theoretical models and observations.

Steven says that science and folklore are often set up in society as oppositional forces. “One project goal was to model a new kind of interaction between folklore and science, showing that both are based on careful observation of one’s environment,”.

Meet Your Playful Self

Playful People – Ark – Holly Wortell

They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.

Holly Wortell

Holly Wortell is a longtime friend of Bonnie Hunt. She has been a regular on each of Hunt’s sitcoms (The Building, The Bonnie Hunt Show, and Life With Bonnie), all three times playing a vain, promiscuous character named “Holly”. In addition, she has had supporting or bit parts in several feature films in which Hunt has appeared (Beethoven, Beethoven’s 2nd, and Return to Me). Her non-Bonnie-related roles include guest spots on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage, and a national advertising campaign for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Wortell met Hunt in the mid-80’s Chicago improvisational comedy scene, where they formed a three woman comedy troupe called “An Impulsive Thing” with Joan Cusack. Wortell also joined the cast of The Second City mainstage in 1989 (the same year as Chris Farley and Tim Meadows), headlining for several seasons.

As of the fall of 2006, Holly is teaching improv classes at The Second City Los Angeles.

In the summer of 2008, she appeared in a series of teasers for Bonnie Hunt’s upcoming daytime talk show.

Outstanding Special Class Writing
for: “The Bonnie Hunt Show” (2008)
Shared with:
Steve O’Donnell (writer)

Meet Your Playful Self

Playful People – Ark – Jeff Kahn


They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.

Jeff Kahn

JEFF KAHN won an Emmy award for his writing on the Ben Stiller Show. As an actor, he has appeared in The 40-Year Old Virgin and Tropic Thunder, as well as the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. Tomato is his first book… Tomato is his first book and this is first marriage.
Annabelle and Jeff live in Los Angeles with their twelve year old son Ezra.

ANNABELLE GURWITCH is an actress and writer, known for her years co-hosting Dinner and a Movie on TBS and her Fired! book and documentary film. She’s been a regular commentator on NPR and columnist for The Nation.com. Currently, she hosts the series WA$TED on Planet Green Network. You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up… a love story is her second book and second marriage.

They developed this book through a series of performances at Upright Citizens Brigade, Comedy Central Theatre and The New York Comedy Festival 2009. They still can’t decide if performing together counts as “date night”.

You can see their videos and tour information at You Say Tomato I Say Shut Up


Meet Your Playful Self

Playful People Ark – Ron Bieganski


They did not view the Ark as a place to be taught but came with the excitement of children at Christmas. They arrived with an expectation to play and experience in a carnival of creative possibility – that is really what Ark offered. Little did they know they were learning at the same time.

Time seems to separate us, one from the other, yet there is joy in spirit that is eternal. So, from time to time I want to share the workings and wanderings of some playful people who sailed for some years at the Ark Improvisational Theatre.


Ron has performed or directed with the Ark Theater, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Co., JellyEye Drum Theater, Debra Hay, Danny Lepkoff, the Madison Chamber Ballet, M.M. Colbert Modern-Ballet (NYC), Curious Theater Branch, Mary-Archie Theater and numerous other Chicago based dance/Theatre groups.


Ron Bieganski the Artistic Director of Free Street Theatre

This segment appeared on CNN in 2004.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12801700&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0


How Do You Create Virtuoso Human Beings?

Get on the Floor and Boogie
How do you Create Virtuoso Human Beings?
A Director Explains his Approach
By Ron Bieganski
(published in American Theatre January 2004)

Developing virtuoso actors doesn’t start with acting exercises — it starts with virtuoso creative humans. That’s what I’ve learned in my years at Free Street Programs, a Chicago organization whose mission is to open the potential of youth through theatre and writing, so that youth can be creative, active participants in their own destiny. That is our blurb. Like, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” In my time, I have watched way too much bad youth theatre — not theatre by untalented performers, but theatre by young people who have developed skills that feed into their own insecurities and lead to many “actor-ly” problems: overacting, unfocused intentions, showing off, self-consciousness, etc. These performances are truly happenings that only a mother could love. Part of the problem, I have come to realize, is that most acting training takes for granted that the actor already understands where creativity, emotion and spontaneity come from. But the more I’ve worked with youth, the more I’ve realized that they don’t understand these things. So developing a training process — and, more generally, a working process — that is about being an artist and opening creative potential has become my mission. In 1985, when I started working with at-risk youth — by “at-risk” I mean any young people who are not reaching their potential because of economic, societal, educational or family reason — at Free Street, I asked myself the following questions: How do you develop focus to stay in the moment? How do you develop an open, fluid emotional connection within your work? How do you develop a nonjudgmental attitude that allows your body to be a virtuoso reactor? And isn’t all of the above something I want to develop in youth whether they are actors or not? Isn’t this something I want to continue developing in myself?

Meet Your Playful Self

ROBUST – a word – a coffee – an economy

Here is a of look up robust at Dictionary.com

1540s, from L. robustus “strong and hardy,” originally “oaken,” from robur, robus “hard timber, strength,” also “a special kind of oak,” named for its reddish heartwood, from L. ruber “red” (cf. robigo “rust”). Robustious (1540s) was a common form in 17c. (cf. “Hamlet” iii.2); it fell from use by mid-18c., but was somewhat revived by mid-19c. antiquarian writers

Remember how the word cropped up with the sound of percolators and the smell of coffee?

Even if you don’t remember, robust lived in the world of the aroma of coffee and Mrs. Olson.

Then along came the health care debate that snatched robust from the sensory past and put it smack dap in the hands of the public debate as observed Bruce Reed in the Slatest

Experiments with multimedia journalism.
The Slatest

Notes from the political sidelines.

Robust, the unlikely new leader in health reform buzzwords.
By Bruce Reed Posted Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, at 2:19 PM ET

When House Democrats rolled out a new health reform bill last week, much of the focus was on one word not found in its 1,990 pages—robust. “No ‘Robust’ Public Option,” declared the Christian Science Monitor. “Not enough votes for the ‘robust’ public option,” reported Politico. Even the top-secret House whip count that leaked to the press used the same exact term: “Whip Survey—Health Reform With ‘Robust’ Public Option.”

Now every candidate for every office has a robust idea, pitch, or plan to change, transform, stream-line, shrink, or revitalize our economic brew.

Have a robust weekend !

Meet Your Playful Self

Improvisation Texas

It is much easier to learn an improv game by seeing it than by reading the structure in words. A teacher in Texas has put together a great demonstration of different improve games. Once you veiw the one below you can find the host of others.

Introduction on U tube

Use the improv icebreaker called Movement Evolution to focus on listening and repeating. Learn the improv comedy icebreaker Movement Evolution in this free theater acting video from a teacher of improvisation.

Expert: Shana Merlin
Bio: Shana Merlin carries more than 1000 hours of teaching under her belt, and is one of the most experienced and effective improv teachers in Central Texas.

Here is an excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” that talks about what is going on as people play the games and exercises.

What Changed?
Ha…Ha…

What is the unexpected result of this exercise that ALWAYS happens? When people push themselves out of the safety zone and begin to screw up, everyone will laugh. This will happen. Yet, unless someone points this out, no one will even notice it. In my early days of doing this work I missed it too.
I have watched the mood of the group lighten into laughter as people misspeak, and then asked; did anyone notice what just happened? Most often people will not have noticed their reaction to each other’s screw ups. When it is pointed out I ask, why is that happening? Why do we find our mistakes funny? What changed? What is going on?
Isn’t this reaction the same as the example used to define improvisation in the introduction of the book? This definition of an improvised moment is also reinforced on home video shows. Isn’t this what happens in all the “most funny videos”? A bride catches her dress on a nail and is left walking down the church aisle suddenly quite naked.
Yes. When we screw up playing zip, zap, zoop by saying or doing something outside the rules or expectations, we find the screw up is funny, just as we do when the bride catches her dress on a nail. So, we not only discovered, but actually experienced improvisation, didn’t we? In the workshop we are not left naked in our undees in a church but we are left naked with our screw up as we tried to accomplish a simple exercise. We have moved into the world of the unexpected, we have moved outside of the established rules, we have moved into this uncharted, intuitive, playful place.
After pointing out how the group has found this humor in each other’s missteps, and how the reaction would have gone unnoticed unless someone called attention to it, I ask another question. Before asking it, I tell the group not to answer the question out loud but just to formulate an answer for themselves. How do you feel now, compared to the way you felt when you first entered the room? Of course, you may guess the answer. When we stumble into the intuitive and reach our playful self we feel lighter, more relaxed, and open.