Gang, our favourite Kirsten has a show coming up at the Centaur. If you missed it at the Fringe, this is your chance to see it. I thought it was one of the best things I saw at the Fringe this year. Do go check it out…
Here’s the details and press notes:
Blink Blink Blink is a one woman dark comedy written and performed by Kirsten Rasmussen. Blink Blink Blink is the comedic story of a motivational speaker Sara Tonin, and a scared little bunny, Benjamin Bunny. All Sara wants is the success and happiness she’s worked so hard for. All Benjamin wants is to be more courageous like his heroic father. They both strive so blindly for their goals, that they lose sight of themselves and collide head-on with each other.
Blink Blink Blink was first produced by the artist as a workshop performance at the Free Standing Room Theatre in Montreal in January 2011. Then the show was presented Shumiatcher Sandbox Series season at the Globe Theatre in Regina, Saskatchewan in May. Then the artist produced the show at the Montreal Fringe Festival in June.
At the Montreal Fringe Festival Blink Blink Blink was nominated for Best Comedy by Just For Laughs and Best English Production by the Centaur Theatre. Blink Blink Blink was awarded the Best English Production.
Quotes About Blink Blink Blink
“I was snorting with laughter.”
“The writing is sharp and funny…”
- Canada Arts Connect Magazine
“ You will laugh to tears.”
“The show is f@%king fantastic!”
- Montreal Mirror
“Rasmussen’s timing is unreal.”
- Charlebois Post
“Kirsten Rasmussen’s star power is mind-blowing.”
- Charlebois Post
Kirsten Rasmussen was a co-founder and director of Montreal Improv. And her award winning solo show Blink Blink Blink is being featured at the Centaur’s Wildside Festival Jan 3 through 14th. Kirsten is an actor/improviser and writer and this show combines all of those things, and a little clowning too.
The show began as an idea that was flushed out through improvisation, both in rehearsal and fully improvised run that happened last January. After many improvised runs, Kirsten wrote the piece down. But she improvises in each show, finding new lines, new jokes and new moments between the characters and her audience.
This show is a great showcase of how the skills of improv can play into creation; how the art of story telling taught by improv can be used in writing; and how the imagination we use in improv to create characters and environments out of nothing is extremely relevant to independent theatre.
The show is running:
- Jan 3rd, 7pm
- Jan 5th, 7pm
- Jan 7th, 9pm
- Jan 11th, 9pm
- Jan 13th, 7pm
Call Centaur Theatre Box Office For Tickets (514) 288-3161
Reg Tickets $15 ($12 for students/under 30/seniors)
After a fantastic year of working with Montreal Improv to create a new hot spot of improv in the city, I have decided to leave the team of directors. It has been my pleasure to teach, direct and produce at the Montreal Improv Theatre. And I only back off my responsibilities so that I may dedicate more time to my own work.
A big thank you to the Montreal Improv Staff, to Bryan, Marc and Vinnie, whose love for improv will no doubt keep the place running and successful for years and years to come. And a big thank you to all the students and improvisers who made Montreal Improv’s first year so successful.
Although I am taking more time to focus on my own work, I am not vanishing. I will still be around at shows. And will possibly even a teach a class every now and then.
This weekend I am playing a show on Saturday called the Gauntlet. A nice send off to my time at Montreal Improv as well as a good showcase for me before I head out west to the Vancouver International Improv Festival.
I do hope you can be there to laugh at me.
I just got home from a trip to poutine heaven, La Banquise. Ahhh la Banquise I say in my riddled prairie accent, the best place to bring out of towners for poutine I think. And a beautiful walk home along the park.
Poutine is also the best way to celebrate… AN AMAZING SHOW!!!!! WOW! WOWEEEE! The Next Acters tonight did La Ronde which is a format following characters through different scenes. Hard to explain, but each improviser had two scenes they were in, they played the same character and it all took place in the little town of “BLACKSTONE”, famous for it “UNDERWEAR FACTORY” he he. underwear. We actually made it a clothing factory.
It was an amazing night of improv. To sit and watch these people be so intimate and generous and wonderful to each other on stage, when two days ago they were strangers. They were making bold and growing choices. There was a scene between a crooked crop and ruthless business woman. There was an oath that was climaxed with stabbing a sewing needle into the heart. There was home-made sequels of Titanic!!!!
We had been working all day on character, relationship and environment and the festival ensemble really used it to their advantage.
This group has so many different styles apparent in it and yet somehow they make it work together, really, really really well.
I laughed so hard, and felt inspired and proud and awed all at the same time. As a teacher you like to believe you perhaps said something to help someone along the way… but i feel more so in this process that I got to be present at something amazing. What these improvisers are bringing to each other, is much more than i could ever teach in two days time. They are learning from playing with different styles, different characters. And I believe some of these people will be big players in the Canadian Improv scene for years and years to come.
We have one last show tomorrow night. And I will be terribly sad to see them all leave. Even though they relentlessly tease me about being “drunk improv mom”, whose a bit crude. I will miss these wonderful improv people who stick duck ands roosters down their pants hoping they will mate to create the evilest of foul… the DOOSTER!
These people who play evil business minded roosters on stage who are plotting to take over the town.
These people who weave metaphor of diamonds and badges, lust and love and law all together to create a majestic poetry to delight your ears.
These people who can charm the Tokyo wait staff faster than you can take a shot.
It has been an absolute amazing three days and I hope to see you tomorrow to check out their last show!!!!! Saturday June 4th! Montreal Improv Theatre!!!
Well I am back in Montreal sitting on my sectional couch watching out for the mice that have infested my home since I left. Nothing like the scritchedy scratchedy welcoming home of your long lost mice pals. ”Welcome home” the mice cheered as they did kart-wheels and somersaults saluting my return.
But back to the matter at hand, the Dick and Honey Tour. On Saturday morning after a quick bran muffin and scrambled eggs made by me Mom, “Is that rosemary?, Nice one Mom!,” we headed on the road at 730 am.
We burned through the prairies laughing as we went. Playing car games to keep awake and fill the time. Counting cow herds, inventing movies, and discussing the cult-like calling, improv seems to have on its’ followers.
Finally we arrived in Edmonton, the home of Rapid Fire Theatre. This company is the reason I am an improviser. And we happened to be driving into town on the weekend of it’s 30th anniversary. 30 years of make-em ups. Pretty amazing to see how far the company has come and how many people have filtered through it’s ranks. I attended a little wine and social for alumni and current players to celebrate the company and what it has done for us as individuals, as performers, as friends. Looking around i begin to notice all the connections that this company had provided for these people in their lives. People have found their best friends, life partners, and comedy partners at this theatre.
There were speeches by former Artistic Directors of the company. Pretty heart warming to say the least. And I felt myself getting incredibly nervous all of a sudden.
We were playing the second half of Chimprov. Which is the name of Rapid Fire Theatre’s long form show that runs every Saturday at 11 pm. In the first half there is a ten minute opener, and then a set of 25 to 30 minutes. And then the second half is a 45 minute set. Each week new troupes fill these slots. On our show the Artistic Director Amy Shostak and senior player Kory Mathewson were doing a debate format. Very funny, there were arguing whether or not Lil’ Wayne is better than Dr. Seuss.
The 25 minute slot was taken by the very talented duo, Like Father Like Son starring again two senior players of Rapid Fire Theatre Julian Faid and Jesse Mcphee. So funny, so punch you in the face funny. Quick transitions and heavy hitting comedy these boys know what they are doing.
The crowd was packed nearly 200 people. Amazing. I used to play to a crowd this big every Friday Night. It is such a great experience. So much energy. And there was. Dick and Honey went fantastically that night. We had so much fun on stage with it. The show was about cookie eating, rumours of being a slut, and writing a novel. It was a great evening and one of our best shows to date. I was thankful to have played a successful show at the theatre where i got my start.
After a very delicious coffee and breakfast with my old friends from Edmonton, at Leva (best coffee in Edmonton, hands down… can i do that? i just did!) we set back on the road to the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary.
In Montreal I have worked with two power house improvisers who were Loose Moose alumni, Eric Amber and Sandi Armstrong. I felt like from these two people I learnt to focus on story, focus on the narrative and strong platforms. They both are amazing performers and teachers. As well Patti Stiles is a former Loose Mooser, and also was the Artistic Director at Rapid Fire for some years a while back, and now artistic director of a company in Melbourne, Australia. Hello! Suffice to say I was excited to see the Moose. A legendary company in Canadian Improv. And what a cool space. A theatre where only improv is done and you can tell. The back stage easily accessibly filled with props, chairs, tables, costumes and on stage so many entrances, door ways, even a draw bridge.
It was odd for me. We continued miming our doors.. which I think was an odd choice. But it is hard for us to go off stage, we always want to be seeing what the other person is doing. We had a really fun show there about a half marathon, alcoholism and stuttering. Great audience and great space and great people. I would love to watch a Theatresports there and see the Loose Moosers really use the stage to it’s potential.
My friend and an improviser Rob Mitchelson opened for us with his band. It was fantastic. It has been amazing how improvisors in all the cities have pitched in to help us make our show happen, just out of love for improv and out of excitement for the opportunity to see something different. I hope we delivered.
All in all we had a fantastic trip. Alot of driving and I wish we could have spent a bit more time in each city, so we could see a few more local shows, and/or play a few more local shows. That is sometimes the best part of touring is getting to play with new improvisers.
Anyhow…. haven’t done the accounting yet… eeef. But hopefully we make it on the plus side. I had a blast and though my butt and back were achy from the driving, I was sad to see the tour and excitement and adventure come to an end.
But mice or no mice. It is good to be home.
Hello. I am right now sitting in the tiny room I lived in as a child between the years of 10 and 16. Oh the wallpaper is a cheery flowery blue that makes you want to punch yourself right in the eyes. The floor is covered in mix match of toys. Toy radio, doll house, farm yard, cabbage patches spooning each other and a knitten doll of a bagpiper. Oh yes! That too!
My back hurts in all the places that make you feel like an old woman. Or… that you have been driving in a car for six hours. Which I have.
And though my back hurts, and the knitted scottish man is looking at me with an eternal wink, I am happy in my heart sitting a top a Mickey Mouse bean bag chair.
These last two days have been fantastic, playing shows to new audiences and meeting new improvisers and seeing old faces!
Brent and I rehearsed Wednesday morning in Regina. Having not played together in six weeks… we needed the time. After coffee and banana cream pie with my Grandma we had to get ready for the show. Curlers, shaving, gel, flowers, panty hose… it isn’t just wits and giggles that go into Dick & Honey, there is also a shit-load of vanity. he he he.
In Regina we played our show right before Regina’s own troop COMBAT IMPROV, were to do their set. We did a 45 minute set about wigs, boats and teeth grinding to a wonderful audience who seem delighted. It was great to be doing the show again after a short break, and even better to be playing infront of a new audience. The feeling is somewhat like a first date. Nervous, exciting, gas issues.
After our show we changed and stayed for the Combat show. There was four sets by fantastic grouping of Reginian improvisers. All showing their best. The last set was by improv veterans and all around stars Jayden Pfeifer and Amy Matysio of the General Fools. They were a group that I have watched and followed since I was 18. They are some of the best comedians in all of Canada, and it is truly an honour to watch such pros on up stage. They are so comfy in their bodies… so calm and grounded and delivered just pure comedy gold. Great characters with hearts and goofy bones. It was fantastic! Then a small intermission and a bit of competition match. Three teams four rounds, audience votes. What fun to be thrown up there with different improvisers who have just met each other. I love that feeling when you sincerely do not know what the hell to expect. Anything could happen, all you have to do is say Yes! So fun. I did scene where i was an angel acting as an interrogating cop, and the entire scene was a rap! amazing!
Brent was teamed up with General Fool Amy Matsyio and a hilarious Dan Willows. They were a team to be reckoned with. Though my team did beat them. he he. Rap always wins in improv. (This is not a lesson, just the harsh truth.)
The next day we drove to Winnipeg. And oh my. I have fallen in love. What an amazing city. First of all… IT”S HUGE! I didn’t know. In Regina, Winnipeg gets a bad rep. Don’t know why, so guess I thought (being a silly saskatchewan bumpkin) that it must be a similar size to Regina if Reginians always be boastin’ how much better Regina is. But nooooo, Winnipeg is BIG! And so beautiful. It has got the charm of the wide prairie sky in combination with a 1920’s styled downtown, and a bunch of cute little hipster villages. Now i might get kicked in the face for calling Osbourne Village a hipster village, but I just mean a place where you can find veggie sausage, fair trade coffee and organic house cleaning supplies in walking distance. Oh man.
We did our Dick and Honey show at the EXCHANGE COMMUNITY CHURCH! And one of the most charming and delightful troupes of all Canada opened for us. Outside Joke! I love these folks. They played at the Montreal Improv festival this past year. But I have known the troupe from years before when they visited Edmonton and killed the crowd with their charm, their songs, and their fantastic character abilities. These guys have such a great troupe chemistry they are fun to watch and fun to hang with!! Oh YES! And their name is true to their behaviour, no inside jokes with them, they always let you in the laugh, chuckle, guffaw and snort.
The crowd was filled with many Manitoba Improv League kids (that Canadian Improv Games in Manitoba (that’s an extracurricular improv tournament for highschool students.) They were a great crowd. Our show was about climbing mountains, falling in love with your husband’s brother, gum chewing, and wolverine analogies. I made an anachronistic remark about X-Men comics and felt like the ultimate nerd. I admit feeling both shame and glee at this moment.
The theatre was at The Exchange Community Church, which is downtown, right in the Fringe district. And what a district. I felt like Dick & Honey were home. I was so mad that both Brent and I had forgot our cameras. I only have my mind to remember what glee Winnipeg produces in me.
After a fantastic breakfast this morning at Stella’s (HOMEMADE JAM FOLKS! OH YES). We headed back to SK to crash for the night. Tomorrow will be an early morning. Hoping to get up 6 am (oh my god, i just barfed in my mouth) so that we may be on the road for 7. But it’s all worth it. We will be in Edmonton tomorrow. Playing at the theatre that started it all for me. The amazing Rapid Fire Theatre (at the Varscona Theatre) It happens to be Rapid Fire Theatre’s 30th anniversary as well. This company has spat out some of the greatest improvisers of the world… and they live all over the world. Past Rapid Fire Artistic Director’s now lead companies all over this world, in Austria, in Australia, in Atlanta. (only “A” places, it’s a rule).
Anyhow, I could not be more excited. We are half way through our little prairie tour and we have had so much fun already! Looking forward also, to getting back to Montreal and to my own little piece of heaven… the Montreal Improv Theatre.
Sometimes you leave an improv scene and think… ”Where the hell did that audience come from… a graveyard?” or “Could my scene partner have been a bigger boob? No!”
Sometimes an improv scene you do sucks the big one! And you really feel like it couldn’t possibly have been your fault. There you were, saying yes, and yes and, and endowing and justifying.. and then “so and so” just poo-pooed the whole scene away, or the audience was deader than that mouse that dried up on the trap weeks ago. (gross)
Well, in these moments, I challenge you to not point fingers. Just as your mother taught you when you were young, “Don’t point fingers” and “Don’t be a tattle-tale.”
Look to your own work. How could you have supported your scene partner more? Or inspired them more? How could you have charmed the audience, or slowed down the story to include them more? There is always more you can do and learn as a performer, and let it be a journey about yourself. It is not, though it often feels like it, a competition between others. It is a journey for yourself.
A journey that consists of this process. Yesterday I made this choice, what choice will I make today?
This also applies on and off stage. No one has control of your actions and choices but you. No one has control of your growth or stagnancy but you. If you choose to continue learning and growing then every time you step on stage you will be learning something. Even if it’s just as simple as… the audience doesn’t like it when I kill kittens.
Don’t point fingers, just look into your own work. And strive for betterment in your work. And know that if you work this way, you will always find people wanting to work with you, and supporting your journey.
So next time your scene blows chunks. Don’t point fingers. And just ask yourself… what choices did I make in that scene? And what choices will I make tomorrow. A shit scene is not the end of the day, but it is an opportunity to learn.
Hello Wednesday Blog Readers
I am writing to you from Regina, Saskatchewan.. my home town… well, close to it. And I need to do some improv quick..before I blow up. So tomorrow I will with Combat Improv, great troupe in Regina.
But I also just returned from Toronto where I took in a show from The National Theatre Of the World doing their fantastic show CARNEGIE HALL! This a very very talented group of improvisors.. some of the best i would say for sure, for sure. And for this particular show they dress to the nines… classy tuxes, dresses and heals. It is fantastic to watch mainly because they are amazing hilarious performers… but also i note that it is delightful to take in because they are dressed so well. Their is a feeling of class and formality and that contrasts the silly nature of make-em ups improv in such a wonderful way.
Also just visually, the show is quite beautiful, there is obvious effort and thought put into the evening visually, if simply that the performers look put together. This often lacks at improv shows. It’s as if improvisers think because they are making it up they do not have to shower, or tuck their shirts in.
Now.. I understand that improv is more of a casual art… but it is also a visual art. Would it pain us improvisors so much to think of the visual element of the show? Even as simple as the whole troupe wearing jeans and black t-shirts can make such a visual difference.
On the other hand, if everyone always dressed up for improv… then it wouldn’t be special when someone did it.
So… do what you will. But please make sure all your cracks and creases are covered at least. AT LEAST. Nothing more distracting then a bunch of sneak attack crack on stage.
And gentleman… I do recommend pulling out the three piece once in awhile. Nothing handsomer than a handsome man in three piece suit. With a pocket watch. AM I RIGHT?… LADIES?
Hello Wednesday Blog Readers. I am in between cities right now, currently in Toronto and heading to Regina. So this one will be short and sweet.
When your scene partner enters the room… look them in the eyes. When there is a big revelation on stage… look them in the eyes. To know whether or not the scene has found it’s feet, or lost it’s feet, is about to climax… or about to end… , (all together now) Look Your Scene Partner in the eyes.
It’s amazing what actual contact can do for your improv acting.
Now don’t spend the whole scene staring into their baby blues, or nutmeg brownies. Please get back to your tasking and working with your environment, looking out the window at the sunset and combing the dog.
But when needed (and it always is) to find the story, push the story, raise the steaks, make a declaration….. then….. LOOK YOUR PARTNER IN THE EYES!
Oh yeah! Peeps got pretty peeps… so take a peek at ‘em.
Well folks. This one blog might not be so tutorial. But perhaps just a bit more of what I was thinking while wondering around the amazing city of New York. Watching improv shows, talking improv, and doing a little. But more so.. just wondering around this city. Watching street performers, people on the subways, speaking with my friends.
This city is frenetic. It is non stop movement. People bust their asses day in and day out just to survive. And it was nothing of this cold hearted big city feeling I expected. People are chatty, they are friendly, they are interested and charming and present.
I had a very saccharin epiphany while standing in front of a Jackson Pollock painting. And that was… this was an artist, that was breaking all the rules…. that was pleasing himself..and therefore pleasing his audience. Did applying himself to his own good taste and not the archaic aesthetics of the art form make him any less dedicated? any less mindful and diligent and focused… i don’t think so. I am not a art history buff, so please just gleam my meaning if I am astray on the facts okay… because my point is…. i think…
You’ve got to work your ass of. You’ve got to work it so hard, and in the right direction. In the direction that is always going closer and closer to your own art…. your own specific “what you are” art. Whatever that may be… PERHAPS that does align with existing aesthetics…or perhaps it is something you’ve never seen and can only piece together from bits of inspiration and memory into a picture that only half exists of as now. But you must commit yourself to it.
Like any good improv scene, or relationship, commitment must exist. Other wise it is just a flight of fancy with no backbone, nothing to grip on, nothing to hold on to or remember.
Perhaps New York has put the apparently missing Bee in my Bonnet. People around me consistently comment on how hard I am working. And then I come to this city, and see just how much harder I NEED to be working. Well, thank goodness, i love what i do then.
There is a distinct and aweful (like full of awe) gap in between “good art” and.. “GREAT ART”. I want to make it great.
Ponderings and Philosophy brought to you by New York, New York. Perhaps more on the actual Improv I saw and did later, have not digested anything yet… been eating way too much pizza and cheesecake!