Feb 19, 2013
Middletown native and actor Steve Scionti will bring his one man show, Hear What’s in the Heart: A Shoemaker’s Tale to Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, for an extended engagement. The new draft of the play is co-written and directed by Tony Award -winner Anthony Crivello, who recently completed a run on Broadway of Clifford Odet’s Golden Boy.
Hear What’s in the Heart is set against the backdrop of a post-funeral gathering to celebrate the life of Scionti’s grandfather, Angelo Morello (who owned Angelo’s Shoe Repair on Main Street in Middletown.) Taking us through the funeral day’s events, Scionti paints a theatrical family portrait in a series of humorous and poignant vignettes, transforming himself into various family members and friends.
Steve Scionti grew up in Middletown, CT. He attended Xavier High School. But his heart yearned for something other than the family business. He wanted to sing. He wanted to dance. With the guidance and support of his grandfather, Hear What’s in the Heart tells the auto-biographical tale of Scionti’s youth and journey to performances on stage and films in Los Angeles and New York.
This family tale begins a six week run on Thursday May 16, 2013. The show will continue weekly on Thursday nights through June 20, 2013. All performances are set for 7:30pm. Advanced Tickets are available online.
“We are excited to have Steve here to tell his story. It is an important story for our young people to experience. This is a story about family, about Middletown and about growing up to pursue your dreams,” said Executive Director Matt Pugliese.
The show, which has played to sold-out houses at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles, as well as shows in Westchester and New York City. It was selected to be in the 2009 NY Fringe Festival. The show played two nights at the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts in the summer of 2012.
Feb 6, 2013
Scripted Conversation with Improv Master
We had a chance to catch up with Sam Shaw (Master Class: Improv Bootcamp) recently to talk about what he is doing these days and improv in general.
What did Oddfellows do for you?
Oddfellows introduced me to improv, for one, and also to stage acting and many many lifelong friendships. It was a place where it was ok to be goofy and take risks, and the teachers were my first artistic mentors. It was such a privilege to have OP as a resource when I grow up. Honestly, I want to start an OP of my own before I die.
Why do kids need art and creativity in their lives?
Not only do kids need a forum to escape through creative play, they also need a forum to express themselves. Kids have opinions and points of view that are really not heard, which is especially unsettling because growing up can be so frightening and uncomfortable. Creative arts let kids comment on and perform through their personal experience as they move toward adulthood. We undervalue this important outlet. Arts programs are sadly being cut back across the country and I fear that this will make our society boring and uptight.
What has been the coolest/greatest moment of your improv career?
I founded the San Francisco Improv Festival in 2004, but re-launching it in 2010 with my troupe Crisis Hopkins was a really exciting time. Both big shows I did with that troupe, improv/sketch/video comedy revues, were the best shows I've ever done. Also two moments where the path I was on was totally verified and encouraged - performing at an improv jam with Robin Williams and doing a sketch on Late Night with Conan O'Brien when he came to San Francisco in 2008. Those were the best experiences so far, but I'm counting on many more awesome moments. Thanks for not asking about my worst experiences.
Has improv ever helped you manage/get out of a sticky situation in real life?
Improv generally makes one a more effective and rounded individual. I can't pinpoint a single "sticky moment" but it has made me a better actor, writer, and most importantly a better team player. We all start as improvisers when we're young and unfortunately get "trained" out of it pretty quickly as we mature. This is a shame. Improvisation helps us recover that freedom of play.
Why is improvisation important if you're not going to pursue it as a career path?
See above. Can I say that? See above. But also - I find as someone with a dayjob and a young family, improv simply fits into my schedule. The rehearsal schedule of scripted theater is time-intensive. Being an improviser is more like being a musician, even a simple weekly rehearsal can improve your play. There are more and more venue for performance as well. And the definition of a "career-path" in improv is pretty tricky. Most often, improv itself isn't a career unto itself, it's a path to a career in acting or writing. I know many many improvisers - none of them make all or most of their income through the performance of improv. It's usually part of a mix of acting, writing, directing, teaching, and consulting work.
What are you currently working on?
I'm producing the 50th birthday party for The Committee, an influential improv and sketch comedy troupe that ruled San Francisco from 1963-1973. Basically the company started when a bunch of Second City-trained actors hopped in a car and headed west. They used improv techniques to create comedy that documented and satirized the counterculture. We're throwing them a party in April as part of a larger documentary film and book project. To keep my performance chops up I'm still performing every now and then and I have a semi-regular side-gig as a performance coach introducing improv techniques to local nuclear scientists. Yeah, crazy.
When: Saturday & Sunday, February 16 & 17
Who: Teens & Adults
Time: 12pm-4pm, Performance Sunday 7pm
Only 7 slots remaining! Call 860-347-6143 to reserve your spot today!