June 2018

Join us for the Inspector General Improv Comedy Crash Course!

On August 18th at 6:45pm Connor McCanlus, Michael McBurney, and Tyler Ray Kendrick will be teaching the fundamentals of improv!

Connor McCanlus (Director) is a local comedy performer, producer, and director whose work has been featured in Chicago (Second City, The iO Theater, MCL Chicago, Athenaeum) and NYC (Upright Citizens Brigade, The Magnet Theater, The People's Improv Theater). He has taught improv and musical improv workshops at Philly Improv Theater, Coalition Theater in Virginia, and the University of Pittsburgh and coached the Point Park University improv club from 2014-2016. His team Well Known Strangers hosts the weekly Pittsburgh Improv Jam at the Cabaret at Theater Square; he performs monthly at Arcade Comedy Theater in Well Known Strangers with Extra Cheese and The babyGRAND Show.

Mike McBurney (Bobchinski) has been performing improv regularly at Arcade Comedy Theater since 2014. He is a member of short-form max team 8-Bit and house team Penny Arcade, which produces matinee shows for children on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. He also coaches the short-form house team Game Shark.

Tyler Ray Kendrick (Svistunov) has been taking classes, performing, coaching, and teaching comedy in Pittsburgh for the last 3 years. He's well experienced in writing and performing stand-up and sketch comedy as well. He started taking classes at Steel City Improv Theatre and the Unplanned Comedy Warehouse where he currently teaches.

Afterwards, stick around to enjoy Throughline Theatre Company's production of The Inspector General

Suggested donation of $5 for the Comedy Crash Course. Please note, this does not include a ticket for the show. Please sign up below if you plan to attend!

May 2018

Our Artistic Director, Sean Sears, was asked to share a few thoughts on his take on what theatre means to him...

I want to put down in writing what I think theatre is, and I guess I want to put down in writing what theater is. Theatre versus Theatre, y’know, the RE vs. the ER.

--The spelling thing; I get it all the time. Especially down South. That’s where I'm from. Down South. I had a friend that had someone look at them befuddled for ages when they said they work in theatre. It took 4 tries before they said “oh! You mean Thee-ATE-ER!” --

Mostly, it’s the art vs the space. Theatre, in its traditional sense is made up of the triptych; but instead of Father, Son, Holy Ghost (or Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Hi Mom) we have The Play, The Audience, and the Space.

My vision as the Artistic Director of Throughline Theatre is that it has to have all three to be Theatre. To be Theatre you gotta be doing a Play by a Playwright or you’re just doing something else: Improv, Performance Art, Standup, what have you.  It could have theatrical elements- in the same way a recording of all the songs of a Musical is not an actual Musical. It if it’s not a play by a playwright it's not theatre with an RE. I feel that there are only a few rules for it to be a play by a playwright;

1.       Anyone, or multiple anyone's, can be a playwright as long as they can in some way communicate their ideas  It doesn’t have to be written. Or language. Or words.

2.       The ideas inherent in the play have to be able to be performed as they are understood.

The Audience. You have to be doing this play for an audience. I did not say in front of an audience. In the days of Sarah Bernhardt (more on her and her wooden leg later) the audience could be in two types. With aisles in the middle or without. So boring. Without was called Continental and with was called American (who says were the most divisive we’ve ever been, amiright?)

Regardless of how many there are, where they are, or when they show up; someone, anyone, who is not involved with the show, in any way, and happens to see a moment, of any part of the show is; the Audience.If you saw a part of the show you weren’t supposed to see? Still Audience. What if you didn’t pay? Audience. What if the show has caused you such anguish in your normie stale has-been life as you must join the troupe RIGHT NOW!?! Audience; now go practice your 60 second edgy Mamet, Normie™.

Lastly, Space…The final frontier. About 20 years ago doing shows in weird spaces was super cool and fun. The Space, the last part of the triptych, this sacred third of our magical art pie? The only thing that makes it The Space™ is that you have chosen it specifically. In whatever rad space we find this time, in a renovated church, in your front yard at midnight at the full moon? That’s trespassing…but THEATRE!

All of the Pittsburgh artistic scene -Devised works, found spaces, immersive audiences. You should see them. All of them. Its a kind of magic you know. A holy magic. Maybe that’s why it comes in threes.

April 2018

Our Managing Director, Katherine Stienstra, wants to share how she got involved in Throughline...

A few years ago -after a brief hiatus from working in the theatre- the itch that starts when you have been away too long showed itself and I was called back. I love the theatre because it is intense, enriching, and thought-provoking, but I feel called because there is something undefinable about communicating with a live audience. At every performance a story is told and through that telling we are all left changed and transformed.

When I returned to the theatre was met with open arms by the wonderful group of artists at Throughline Theatre Company. Through this I have gained wonderful friends, a wealth of experience, and gratitude for the opportunity to do what I love. If you are like me and want to share stories, make friends, and bring opportunities to others- join us. We would love to see you at the theater.

Ubu Roi is playing 6/22-30 at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre.

March 2018

This month's blog comes from our Public Relations Director, Michael McBurney, who is an active member of the Pittsburgh theatre community and avid comedy fan and performer:

The theme for the 2018 season is “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and there are a number of reasons I’m excited about that. On a very basic level, comedy is a wonderful salve for the many stresses and injuries that can happen in life, whether in the sense of everyday mishaps or much larger concerns (say concerns over the state of the global climate, the political health of the nation, or how we can ultimately come to properly treat each other as human beings, just as completely random examples). On a personal level, I’m excited because comedy has always been, and continues to be, an important part of my life. I remember getting books out of the library as a young boy to try and teach myself how to make sound effects with my mouth and vocal chords, and while I recall failing spectacularly, I think that started me down the path of trying to mimic voices and accents. That in turn, along with having an English teacher for a father, almost certainly set me down a path to be drawn to theatre and performance.

Now, years later, I find myself lucky enough to be using those skills regularly in many different ways - not least of all at Arcade Comedy Theatre on a team called Penny Arcade. The team performs in the afternoon twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, for an audience of children and adults, and we get to engage everyone by taking suggestions from them and asking for volunteers to help with the short form improv games we play during the show. It is a constant source of joy to see the connections people can find through comedy in these shows, regardless of what was happening in their lives before they walked through the door, and to know that they leave feeling happy, and perhaps a bit recharged and ready to face the world again.

For similar reasons (and for the fact that many of us have had thoughts of numerous comedic plays we’d love to perform), Throughline hopes you will come and join us for this season’s shows. Whether the comedy is witty or bizarre or highly satirical, they all provide opportunities for us to take a pause and revel in a moment outside of our personal lives and be entertained. In taking such a moment, we can sometimes, if lucky enough, gain a moment of perspective that allows us to see things as we hadn’t before, and realize that with the right amount of good humor at our side, almost no task is impossible.

One of the aspects of improv that Penny Arcade emphasizes to our audiences is the necessity of collaboration – in order to perform a truly entertaining scene, the performers have to work together and support each other. Similarly with Throughline, all productions are naturally collaborative efforts, dependent upon the talents of actors, directors, crew, company, and board of directors. Through all of this, though, the collaboration of patrons is an integral part; without an audience to come and see (and truly be engaged in) a performance, everything is somewhat academic. To that end, helping us by becoming a sustaining patron through our Patreon account, a one-time donation, or volunteering to usher or assist with other behind-the-scenes aspect of a show is a collaboration with Throughline that helps immensely and also allows us to connect with the community on a deeper level.

So again, I hope to see you and laugh with you this season! A long-maintained comedic trope is the happy ending, and the more we come to collaborate and laugh together, the more I’m certain we’ll find our way to happiness in each and every day.

February 2018

This month's post comes to us from our Volunteer Coordinator, Shannon Knapp! She gives us the scoop working with us:

Hello friends of Throughline! As one of the company's newest members, I would like to take this moment early in the New Year to talk about getting involved.

The news seems to get worse daily, and the arts seem to be in the news more and more as politicians debate funding for education and public arts grants. Our season theme "Make 'Em Laugh" feels more and more like an insurmountable challenge than a fun way to engage more people. This summer, I will be directing our production of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, a play about a gross, violent, and petty man who seizes power and wrecks a country. But since that has nothing to do with anything, let's talk about another type of getting involved!

You are probably here because you like theatre. At some point in your life, you were in or saw or worked backstage for a show that Mattered. A show that touched your life and made you different. Or maybe you just like to pretend to be someone you're not (or to see other people pretending to be someone they're not). Whatever it is, you've made the choice to follow Throughline Theatre. I made that same choice several years ago and then I went a step further. I emailed them and asked how I could help.

If you, like me, spend a lot of time on websites of theatre companies in this city, you find that there are many different ways each organization approaches talent acquisition. Most post jobs as they become available, some have a Contact Us form, some accept resumes year round. Some I have no idea, because it's impossible to figure out how to become involved from their websites. Sometimes you can't even figure out a person's name to address an email to! At Throughline, we want it to be easy because we WANT you to be involved. At our Work With Us page http://www.throughlinetheatre.org/work-with-us/ we not only have a form you can fill out if you don't want to email someone directly, but we have company members' names and email addresses where you can specifically address whomever you want to talk to. In fact, don't even click that link, just email me, Shannon Knapp, at sknapp@throughlinetheatre.org

"But I don't have enough experience!" you cry, longing to click send, but afraid of the reaction. Tell those fears to be silent. Why? Because two years ago I sent an email to Associate Artistic Director Sarah McPartland with my resume and YouTube links to radio plays I had made, asking to try my hand at sound design. I can't overstate the support I have received from this group of people. Since beginning my sound design work with Throughline, I have developed my skills on four shows here, booked three paid gigs with other companies and assisted the resident Sound Designer at Pittsburgh Public Theatre.

Few companies can say that they are willing to take chances working with people they don't know; even fewer will accept you so much that they feel like a family. As we are gearing up for our 2018 season I want to encourage everyone to try their hand at something new with Throughline! Audition, volunteer as an usher, submit that script you've been writing, sign up to assist me with sound design, become a patron! I promise that you will learn new things and be surrounded by a supportive group of fellow artists. You may even meet your new squad.

Still not convinced? Consider becoming a sustaining member (yes, just like for public radio!!!) You will get fabulous prizes, exclusive content, and those warm fuzzies that come from supporting local artists. 

 It's very simple; just click this link https://www.patreon.com/throughlinetheatre 

November 2017

Our November update comes from our Assistant Production Manager, Dan Freeman. He fills us in on some of upcoming events and why we chose the plays in our 2018 season:

"Hello, friends of Throughline! Here we are in the doldrums of autumn, but the Pittsburgh theatre scene – as well as our company! – are vibrant as always. I am very excited for what’s to come to Throughline with our 2018 season. We have decided to curate a season of comedy! With the seemingly ceaseless stress of living in our world today, we at Throughline thought it would be a welcome relief to take a step back and let our wonderful audiences laugh their cares away. We will be producing The Inspector General, Ubu Roi, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile; these shows come from different times and different places, and represent a dynamic range of comedic techniques – but each is sure to have something to make ‘em laugh! I’m so thrilled to be able to work with such a talented group of theatre-makers, and hope you’ll be able to join us in 2018!"