1,000 Scenes with Morgan Phillips

I think it was Miles Stroth who said you have to do at least 1000 shows before you can become somewhat good at improv. Well how about 1000 online improv shows? Morgan Phillips is on a mission to do just that and guess what you can be a part of it. I interviewed Morgan about his project:

N: Tell us about your project and why you decided to do it?

M: To celebrate my 20-year improv anniversary, I’ve set out to do 1000 online improv scenes in 2015 — each one with a different scene partner.

N: When did you start this project?

M: I started on New Year’s Day, 2015.

N: Do you have a finish date?

M: My goal is to complete 1000 scenes before the end of the calendar year.

N: Tell us how it works, how frequently do you do these?

M: Anybody who wants to be part of the project just needs to send me their general availability, and we’ll set something up. Shortly before the scheduled time I send them a link to a Google Hangout, and (barring technical difficulties) they click the link and we do a digital improv scene together.

I’ve done scenes at all times of the day and night — including a 3am scene to fit the schedule of an improviser in Australia (Reid Workman, scene #111). I have to average approximately 2.75 scenes a day to stay on pace, so I really am looking for anybody and everybody who’d like to participate. So far my scene partners have ranged from artistic directors of improv theaters to a guy literally doing his very first improv scene (Joe Cherry, scene #70). Some of the people are friends of mine, but many of them are people I’ve never met before.

N: What do you think about improv online? What are the pros and cons?

M: The technology is still in its infancy. There are frequent glitches, and sometimes we have to troubleshoot for several minutes before I actually start the Google Hangout broadcast. Once it’s up and running, it’s a lot more limited than actual, real-world improv. There’s less opportunity for physicality and space work, so there tends to be far less “going to the environment” than there would be in a standard scene.

That being said, it’s free. There’s no need to rent a space or book a show, and you can do it any time of the day or night. I highly recommend it for anybody out there who loves improv, but isn’t getting enough stage time. Provided you can find at least one other person who’s into it, you can literally add as much improv into your life as you can stand.

N: What has been the most interesting scene you’ve done so far?

Scene #221 (with Kevin Hines, head of the UCB training program in NYC) was an attempt to do my half of the scene live, on stage. It was an enormous failure, thanks to a huge delay between the scene and the live feed, and an unreliable internet connection. It made for an interesting video, though. The audience at the theater claimed to enjoy it, but it’s possible they were just being polite…

I think this project is so fun and I got a chance to do it with Morgan too. Our suggestion was Pun and we plotted to murder a co-worker. HA! Morgan is a super nice guy and very fun to play with! Go do it and help him reach his goal.

Do you want to be a part of this great project! Feel free to e-mail Morgan at morganphillips@gmail.com and join the fun!

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Nick Armstrong
Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia a non-profit improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also teaches improv throughout the country.

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