Whether you’re new to improv, or just new to Austin, in this episode KC and I have you covered. We discuss how to put together a group or show, and how get that show on stage. Even if you don’t live in Austin, the general ideas explained in this episode likely apply to the city you live in as well.
Simply put, if you want to perform somewhere you need to find the right person at that venue to talk about performing there. This post and episode (listen below) details that process for Austin, but for any city if you think you’d like to perform somewhere just ask. If you look on the venue’s website they likely have information posted about how to perform, or who to contact about submissions. This question is a welcome one.
We’ll get into more detail about how to submit in Austin specifically, but first…it’s time to have that talk.
Where do shows come from?
Most shows/groups happen because someone wants to do a show. They then either invite people to play with them or hold auditions. So, if you’re wanting to get started and no one is asking you to play then you can always start asking other people to play.
Austin regularly has auditions for improv, and sketch shows. Announcements about these auditions are typically sent out in the theater’s emails to their mailing lists which you can subscribe to on their websites:
or you can stay up to date by joining the appropriate performer facebook groups listed below:
The Austin Improv Forums are also a great resource for finding other people’s audition notices or posting your own.
If you’re putting a group together you then need to decide whether or not you want to work with a coach. If you want to work with a coach but aren’t sure whom to ask, your improv teachers are a good resource who can likely direct you to some reputable coaches in town. There’s also a website, austin.improvcoaches.com, where coaches list their availability.
So, that’s it. Either someone asks you directly, or indirectly via audition, or you ask someone else. Take the plunge! Don’t be afraid to ask people to join your group. It’s typically a flattering thing. Try to be respectful if someone says no for whatever reason, be it that they don’t have time, or just aren’t interested. You can’t force it, and don’t want to play with someone who doesn’t want to be there. If you’re having trouble finding people ask your classmates, or go to one of the weekly jams. There is a jam on Tuesdays at ColdTowne at 9:45pm, every other Wednesday at the Hideout at 7pm, on Sundays at the Institution at 8pm just to name a few. Going to a jam is a great way to get some stage time as well as a way to meet possible like minded performers.
Once your group is ready to perform then you need to submit for stage time by filling out the appropriate form, or talking to the head of the show you want to perform with.
We detail the process in this episode which you can listen to at the bottom of this post, but every theater in town has a different process. ColdTowne and the Hideout take submissions every two months for some general spots. Many of these spots are half hour improv shows, but there are spots at all theaters for longer sketch, improv, stand-up or whatever high concept shows someone might want to put up. To sign up for regular ColdTowne submissions join the mailing list on the right of our student greenroom page, and talk to performers who headline regular shows about opening for them. On Mondays at ColdTowne there is an open mic for stand up comedians hosted by Maggie Maye, and on Fridays at 10pm Live at ColdTowne puts together a currated stand up set.
For info on how to receive the hideout’s submission form email Roy Janik, or again join the facebook groups for audition announcements and other stage time opportunities.
Several performance opportunities in Austin are also cast by the groups that headline a regular weekly slot. Again, joining the above facebook groups is a great way to make sure you see announcements by groups looking to schedule their own opening acts. For example, Jeff Whitaker schedules the openers for Good Fight at the New Movement. Sam Malcolm helps determine the opening acts for Bad Boys at ColdTowne.
So, to submit to these shows you’ll need to talk to a different person at each theater. This can seem a little daunting, but its actually a blessing in disguise. Its a chance to get to meet a lot of great new people, and make helpful connections.
The common thread seems to be that if you want to perform you just need to find the right person, and doing so is usually as easy as asking. Improvisers in Austin are very friendly in my experience, and will likely guide you to the right person if you just ask. A lot of stage time is given out in advance so people can’t just give it to you on short notice, but if you find your way into the loop the process should become clear to you.
At the Institution Theater if you want to perform you can talk to the people in charge of the shows you’re interested in and they can give you info on submissions, or you can contact the theater directly.
At the New Movement, the same thing goes. Several people run their own show. You can talk to Rob Gagnon about stand-up, or Megan Simon or Chris Trew if you have an idea for a show that doesn’t exist yet. Their contact info can be found on their website as well.
Zach Theater’s students perform a graduation show after completing level 3, and otherwise they invite performers to join their troupes or shows. However, anyone wanting to pitch an idea for stage time still can by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s how it works for Austin at those 5 theaters. Establish a good relationship with the time slot’s director, or the person at the venue who handles submissions. Be respectful, detailed and punctual with your requests.
and if you end up being told no by everyone, or can’t find a space then just do a show in someone’s backyard or basement or somewhere. If you’ve read this far you’re likely motivated, and chances are good that things will work out for you if you keep at it.
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