Role: Light/Sound Technician, House Team Performer
Performs: Tuesday nights
Tenure: Since November 2014
Deep in the storage closet of the IA corporate office (the only unoccupied space at the time)….
Cami: HELLO HOW ARE YOU
Alex: Good! How are you?
C: I’m good. Slow, long day. How was your day?
A: Good! Slow and long.
C: So when and how did you get started at Improv Asylum?
A: I took workshops here when I was in high school. I began doing improv then, my high school actually offered an improv class where we met five days a week for two hours a day and I got an English credit for it. As part of that class, we took an annual field trip to Improv Asylum and we did workshops. One year it was with Chet, another year it was with Kiley. I think we had Chet a few times actually. Then I went off to college, and when I moved to Boston I applied to be an usher. I worked as an usher for about a year and a half and then I started training on tech. Now I do tech and take classes, and I often perform on Tuesdays as a part of House Teams.
C: Nice! Which team?
A: Right now my team is called The Lion Kings, but it ends today. Tonight’s the last night of this run. So I’ll have to re-audition and see what happens.
C: We’ll see what happens! So where did you get your acting/teching background?
A: I studied theater and dance in college, so that’s what I do. I grew up doing theater and eventually began training in contemporary dance styles and modern dance. Throughout all that training I had been doing improv. Then I went to college, did improv in college, studied theater and dance as well as writing, and then graduated. Now I do this along with other artistic pursuits.
C: Cool! So tell me more about your dance background and all of these artistic pursuits of yours!
A: I perform with Urbanity Dance. We are the largest contemporary dance company in Boston. I am a company member there, which means I’m dancing with them five days a week, and we’re performing all over the city, which is really exciting. And outside of the city. That’s my day job, and then I come to the Improv Asylum at night. I’m also the company manager of Urbanity, and in addition to that I also work with the Gold Dust Orphans, which is a fringe theater company here in Boston. I also pick up independent dance and theater work all over Boston. So my world is completely arts-based right now.
C: That’s awesome, it sounds like everything you’re doing is something that you love.
A: Yeah! And what’s really cool is I get to explore different aspects of things I love. I get to dance during the day and tech at night, I get to do improv a few times a week, I get to do theater. So, I’m very fortunate.
C: So how do these different arts relate to each other? Do you ever find that they cross over?
A: Not to get too heady here, but I believe what attracts me to the type of arts I enjoy participating in is their ability to create empathetic moments of relationship between audience members and performers. Dance is biologically empathetic - when you see somebody lift a leg or contract a muscle, your body automatically will contract or react to that in a physical way, as if it was doing it. It’s particularly prevalent in men - that’s why men love sports and porn, because they’re watching it and their body literally thinks that they’re doing it. I believe that dance, improv, and theater in general have the ability to create moments of empathy. They allow people to understand a variety of perspectives and experiences. Especially something like improv, where you’re creating it in the moment. The audience has a direct handle and impact on what is happening onstage. And I, as a technician, get to react to that direct reaction, and i get to contribute to the construction of that moment through light and sound.
C: So, when you’re not acting or teching, what can you be found doing?
C: Knitting? Nice! At home or everywhere?
A: Everywhere. I have two projects in my backpack right now.
C: Nice, what are they?
A: One is gonna be a shawl and one is gonna be a scarf. I know a lot of people who knit who don’t do it in the summer ‘cause they think it’s too hot, but i disagree. You gotta knit during the summer so that it’s ready for the fall and winter. I’m a fiber artist as well. I create practical things like scarves and hats and stuff like that, and lots of people around IA have things that I’ve knitted. But I also create aesthetic fiber sculptures. One piece was recently exhibited at an art gallery in Gloucester, where I created a fifty foot long fiber sculpture out of found fibers. It was interactive - it had its own room in the gallery, so it strung across the entire gallery and then there was a giant pouch at the end, and the audience was able to crawl into it. It was in conjunction with a commissioned dance piece, so the performers were able to interact with it as well.
C: Wow, so you’re a visual artist as well!
A: I try!
C: What’s your favorite scene at Improv Asylum?
A: It’s gotta be Lean Cuisine.
C: Yeah, Vicki is my spirit animal in that scene.
A: It starts with such a grasp on reality. You look at that woman, and you look at the situation like “okay we’re in an elevator, there’s this kind-of off lady who’s oversharing” and it starts with that. Then it just grows to be something so ridiculous, but the line of how we got there is very clear. That absurdity we end up with at the end is so justifying and satisfying because where we started was so clean. I think it’s a really well-written piece, and a very well performed piece.
C: My favorite has to be the foreign language song piece. I’m literally dying every time that I see that.
A: It’s really funny! They get spanish a lot. I wish they got a variety of languages.
C: What’s your favorite performance show in Boston in general?
A: Oh God, besides this place? I really enjoy seeing work at the Huntington. I think they’re doing what is often overlooked as very traditional theater work. I think they’re incredible for the fact that they create work in the city of Boston, create new work, support new -
Bryan: Alex, you can come out of the closet now.
A: Oh, stop it! You know I never will!
B: Girl, I hear you.
A: Anyway, I love seeing work at the Huntington. I’m always going to work at The Dance Complex at Central Square in Cambridge. They have a very beautiful facility, and they present and produce work from local choreographers. It’s a beautiful space so I always encourage people to check it out. Every weekend there’s something.
C: What are your pet peeves, inside and outside the theater?
A: Outside the theater, it’s bicycles that don’t respect road signs. So a bike that runs a red light or a stop sign, or rides on the sidewalk. I’m not a biker. I have mad respect for bikers. Boston isn’t a super bike-friendly place. Cambridge and Somerville are. But when i see a bike just blow a red light, it pisses me off. In the theater, talking during scenes is just annoying. It’s super disrespectful. And cell phones! I sound like an old person, but as someone who’s performed down there, even if you’re in the back row and your light is dimmed all the way, we can see and feel you not paying attention. And that’s just like a bummer.
C: What’s your favorite thing about Boston?
A: Walking places. I walk everywhere. I know i was just complaining about bikes, but I love it. Boston’s a very walkable city. And i will never get over public transportation. I know people complain about the T all the time, but growing up in a place where you had to drive everywhere, I love nothing more than sitting on a train and not having to drive. I can knit, I can read, I can listen to music. I love how easy it is to get around Boston. And I love the food. Food’s dank. And smoothies are everywhere now. Pressed juices, smoothies, bubble tea. I’ve been drinking all of my meals. I love liquified meals. That’s what I’m into. Is that a thing?