Femprovisor Fest Offers Woman a Voice!

We  had a chance to interview Jill Eickmann who runs the Femprovisor fest now in its 5th year. Take a look and consider submitting for this fest. It takes place in San Francisco, CA.

What are you looking forward to most this year for the fest?

This is our fifth year! We are looking to showcase a diverse women collective.  We are crossing our fingers that a trio of femprovisors from Improv Mumbai will be joining us this year, making this our first year as an international festival.

How important is this festival for women in improv, especially in light to what is happening in our industry?

What I find so important right now- is creating a safe space for womxn to connect and play together.  We need a space to truly be ourselves without any pressure to conform to any female stereotype or role.  Those of us in all lady teams often agree- this pressure to be a certain type of woman starts to fade once you are not the “only” or “one of the only” womxn on a team.

We need a space to be unapologetic with our voice, truly be ourselves- in all its multiplicities, and take big risks. Most importantly, we need a space where our sisters can support our choices.  When in a male majority or patriarchal industry, a feeling of scarcity can ensue for female artists.  In addition to healing our male/female relationships, we also need a great deal of healing from our sisters.  Femprovisor Fest gives women the opportunity to support and lift one another up.  This festival is about supporting cooperation over competition.  I also see this festival as a space to recharge and get support from other bad-ass Femprovisors to then go home and keep your voice alive.

What kind of shows are you looking for?

We want to see womxn play together with delight and love for one another.  We want to see unique and under-represented voices, experimental forms, and performers who share their voices unapologetically. Off the stage, we are seeking artists who support building community and are excited about engaging in the many festival offerings: workshops, seeing shows, participating in panels, and of course- PARTIES!

Tell us about the venue

This will be our second year at The EXIT Theater- MainStage in downtown SF.  The EXIT is home of the SF Fringe and a wonderful, risk-taking venue that has been a haven for SF Bay Area artists of all walks of life since 1983.  From magicians to burlesque dancers to Shakespeare to new works to the rowdy sketchy show- The EXIT is home to ALL.  The MainStage theater is an 80 seat house with an intimate and fun cabaret feel- perfect for improvisational theatre of all kinds.

Why choose the Femprovisor Fest?

You are an improvisor who not only wants to play boldly and take big risks but you also are extremely passionate about social change.  You want to be a part of the conversation, you want to inspire others, and you want to lift up and support your sisters on and off the improv stage.

You can instantly submit to the Femprovisor fest right HERE.

Spotlight on The San Francisco Improv Festival.

I’ve been to the SF Improv Festival about 5 times since its beginning 11 years ago.  I can say it’s one of the premier festivals in the West and one of my favorite cities to visit. I was able to interview Executive Producer of the SF Improv Festival, Jamie Wright about this years festivities.

The SF Improv Festival is one of the premier festivals of the West Coast. What can improvisors expect this year?

It’s still early in our planning for this year’s festival, but some of what we’re cooking up for 2015 is 10 days of fantastic improv and sketch shows, master-level workshop instructors, a professional 200-seat venue to perform in, an opening night party for the festival as well as post-show cool downs in the lobby bar, parties, Friday night jams, and the festival’s traditional close out of Game Island with Ron West where you can throw down with other performers under the watchful eye of Whose Line’s former games director. All this *and* a staff that is committed to making you feel welcome, and an improv scene in town that is beginning to burst at the seams.

What does a troupe get if accepted?

Troupes accepted to the fest get one 35-minute performance slot in a double-bill. Troupe-members get a performer bracelet which entitles you to any empty seat in a show after the audience is seated, performer pricing on drinks at our (full!) bar, and early signup opportunities for workshops.

What do you look for in a submission?

Really in the end it just comes down to looking for great work by people who love what they do. If you broke it down specifically, we look at: the strength of ensembles, improv basics (accepting & building on offers, support, team play, etc.), character work, overall quality and professionalism, and throw in a little consideration for accessibility to the general public and uniqueness of format. We also look for a diversity of performance groups and of forms. If there’s anything that tips the scales for us in the decision, it’s definitely seeing joy in the work.

Where in SF do you hold the festival?

The festival is held at the Eureka Theater, which is sandwiched between the Downtown, the Embarcadero waterfront area and North Beach. The theater is a 200-seater with a raised stage and a pretty enormous green room. The Eureka’s history includes mounting the premiere of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America and more recently, for being the home of the SF Sketchfest and the SF Improv Festival. The location is great for enjoying SF; it is walking distance to the major lines of public transportation, has a ton of restaurants and bars within a 10 minute walk, and pretty unbelievable views of the Bay just around the corner.

SF is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What do you recommend improvisors do in your city?

There’s the usual run of amazing things to check out; the Embarcadero waterfront & the Golden Gate, some of the best food on the planet, fantastic bars & night life, stupid-beautiful views of the Bay Area and pacific coast, and then you have places like the Mission (which is a cross between the birthplace of the Mission burrito and a ready-made location set for Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley), and the other famous cultural-epicenter neighborhoods like the Haight and North Beach. And these are just a few of the things within city limits.

Oh yeah – then there’s a couple hundred improvisors hanging out looking for something to do after taking in each other’s shows. And you’re in San Francisco. Pretty sure you can figure out some way to occupy your time…!

To instantly submit to the San Francisco Improv Festival click HERE.


Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

10 Years of Funny

A review of the San Francisco Improv Festival

I had the honor of being a part of the 10th annual San Francisco Improv Festival this September with my team Glassworks. This festival was huge! Well, compared to most festivals that is. The SFIF hosted over thirty teams from across the country, featuring performers like Adsit & Eveleth, Razowsky & Hamilton, Susan Messing, Armando Diaz and more. Plus workshops! And it all happened over the span of two weeks. Yep, two weekends jam packed with top-notch performers guaranteed to make you feel some sort of way (and hopefully a bit of laughter).

The festival made its home at the Eureka Theater in the heart of San Francisco. It is an excellent theater with a capacity of over 200 people. All of the seats are fixed in place, lined with red velvet. The stage is pretty large, allowing scenes to grow with the environment whether it is a dance studio, farmstead, or food court. Though I must mention that a larger space calls for an intense focus on projection from the performers. Soft-spoken scenes were often too easy for the audience to miss.

Check out this rad poster design! Now that’s some smart advertising right there. An attractive poster is always a plus at festivals.
sfif

Our team received several preparatory emails leading up to the festival, including individual board representatives to answer any and all of our questions beforehand. The fest made sure to tackle technical details a month ahead of time, which is extremely comforting for both the performers and the folks running the festival. You don’t want to be scrambling to make everything work on the night of the show. Kudos to you all at SFIF! It was our responsibility to figure out the rest of the details once we arrived in the city. Things like finding the theater, figuring out if there was anything we needed as a performer (e.g. badges, wristbands) and finding a place to sleep. I’m happy to say that we were able to complete all of these tasks on our own.

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I was only there for a few nights during the second week of the festival and am sorry to say that I did not have much of a chance to meet other performers from the festival, but did have a chance to meet two of the producers, Jamie Wright and Chris Hayes. Both of them were incredibly friendly and had open arms when we needed help. The entire SFIF staff was always ecstatic, willing to help in any way they could.

Guys, the bay area is absolutely beautiful! During the day we were able to swim in the Pacific Ocean! I’m from Wisconsin, so that’s pretty special. We explored the city, ranging everywhere from the cliffs on the western shores to Haight & Ashbury to the cities surrounding the bay. Parks dotted the landscape, trees grew high into the sky and the water was clean. There’s definitely a reason that improv is deeply rooted in San Francisco. The 60’s brought The Committee and now the city has improv theaters and training grounds like Leela, EndGames, BATS, and Un-Scripted Theater.

Overall I really enjoyed my time in San Francisco! The performer wristband granted me access to EVERY SHOW, the variety of talent was incredible to watch, and the city is truly special. Do yourself a favor and check out this festival when it comes back for its 11th year! Also be sure to schedule in plenty of time to explore the area. You won’t regret it.


Elliot currently resides in Eau Claire, performing with Glassworks and helps run the festival there. He also used to operate an underground venue called “The Playhouse” in Eau Claire, running shows nearly every weekend with both musicians and improv.

Spotlight On: The San Francisco Improv Festival

The San Francisco Improv Festival celebrates it’s 10th Year in September! I was able to do an interview with the Executive Producer of the festival Jamie Wright.

NA: You guys are celebrating 10 years of the San Francisco Improv Festival. How exciting is that? Tell us a little bit about your history.

JW: We’re super-excited to have the 10th anniversary of the Fest happening this year. We have a ton of great stuff happening – improvisation is exploding in San Francisco right now and the scene is full of new groups, schools and some new venues that are going to be fantastic. The fest has gone from a 12-week season of improv when it started to the focused, 10-day event of workshops &  shows with some of the best in the biz. We’re also excited about the work we’re doing around improv history via our documentary on SF’s The Committee, their influence, and the story of how they created [the] Harold. This years fest should be huge – we’re bringing back some favorite headliners, looking to get some surprise new ones and we have our most geographically diverse submission pool yet, so we’re really looking forward to putting together our lineup.

NA: What can improvisors expect from the SFIF this year?

JW: Probably the biggest difference between this year and years past is the load of workshops we are going to offer. We’re in talks with some fantastic teachers from all over the country & from all the different major national schools, and we’re looking to put together a sampling of what you can learn in SF’s improv scene as well. Also, we’re going to focus a bit more on our post-show hangouts. We’ll have the usual performer prices at our full bar for the immediate post-show schmooze, but we’ll also make sure there’s another place to wander off to for libations at different local joints, most likely in North Beach.

NA: San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What attractions can improvisor partake in?

JW: September is the time of year to be in SF. The summer fog goes away and everyone breaks out their warm weather gear and you see all the local restaurants put out their terraces. There’s the usual run of SF tourist things to do which are all worth a go at least once, but you also have all the major parks in SF (Golden Gate Park & Land’s End are amazing) and you’re an hour’s drive to wine country, a short BART ride to Berkeley & Oakland (SF’s Brooklyn), and the Mission is a foodie’s wet food dream. Though that last part makes it sound way less appetizing than it really is.

NA: Tell us about the venue improvisors will be performing in.

JW: All our improvisors get to play in a 200-seat theater sandwiched between downtown, North Beach and the waterfront. It’s a great, professional theater space to work in with a fairly massive stage to play on. We also in talks on having a satellite 80-seat stage about a 5-minute walk away, just up in North Beach, but more on that as it becomes clearer.

NA: When the festival’s done and people go home what do you hope people will be saying about the festival and the improv community in SF?

JW: We just want to make sure that people feel like they were taken care of and that they were actually in San Francisco. We’ve all done pile-on shows or revues where we feel like we were just given a slot and expected to fend for ourselves – it gets even weirder when it’s not your town. We want everyone who performs here to have the feeling like they got their due, they had a decent house to perform to in a pro venue, and that they got to meet & mix with a bunch of their fellow improvisors, gathered here in this amazing city from around the country & the world. The SF improv community is really cooking right now and it’s an exciting time to be here – come check it out!

So what are you waiting for SUBMIT Today! Or visit www.nationalimprovnetwork.com.

Nick Armstrong

Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings.  He has also taught many workshops around the country. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want.

To e-mail nick e-mail nick@nationalimprovnetwork.com. For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

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