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  • Oct 30 2014

    The Power of Creating Your Own Work: An Interview with Ithamar Enriquez

    Written by Christa Nannos

    The Second City Alum, Ithamar Enriquez, has created his own, one-man show called, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say, and though he doesn’t say a single word throughout the show, he captivates the audience with body language, music, and impeccable characterizations. Having moved to LA a few years ago, he quickly realized the benefits of creating his own work. I had the privilege of interviewing Ithamar to get the inside scoop on the show, and to hear how much he does, in fact, have to say about his creative process and advice for upcoming comedians.

    CN: What was your inspiration behind the show?

    IE: This type of work is something I’ve always been drawn to. Since I was a kid I really loved all the physical comedians. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, and, of course, Mr. Bean who is a huge influence. I remember seeing Rowan Atkinson’s One Man Show on video, and that changed everything. There are a couple of scenes in that show where he doesn’t speak, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, you can actually do this’. Once I started getting more into sketch and improv, I tried to figure out ways I can create sketches that aren’t typical. Physical sketches, musical sketches. So this show has been in the back of my brain for a very long time.

    CN: Why is it so important to create your own work?

    IE: Once I got to LA, I realized it’s very easy to sit back and ask why certain things aren’t happening for you as an actor. ‘Why aren’t I getting an audition? Why aren’t I booking the role’? So the cure for that was to write my own show. As an actor you literally have to create your own job out here. So I decided to write this show. I knew it would be a challenge and really fun, and it’s been all those things. The very first version of the show was 25 minutes long. And since then it’s grown into a 50-minute version and now we’re also working on a web series. In the past year I have worked on it creatively and now see more doors opening for me as well as opportunities for it to be exposed to a bigger audience.

    CN: Your characters never speak in the show but are extremely physical. How did you train for this show?

    IE: By watching those who did it before me. I always tell students, when you’re in this work you have to throw yourself in completely. Watch every movie, read every book, do anything and everything that has to deal with comedy. It really makes me sad when I mention Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy, and students will have no idea who I’m talking about. If you don’t know those people you should not be doing comedy. You can take every class in the world that you want, but if you’re not throwing yourself into this world and making it your life, then you’re not going to benefit from it. I think that’s what I’ve always done.

    CN: What came first, the music or the characters?

    IE: It depends. Sometimes I would think of a funny, physical bit and then try to find the perfect piece of music that would try to fit that. There’s one scene I do with a puppet, and at first that scene had a completely different song. By the time it got to the show I changed the song, knowing the bit wouldn’t change that much. For another scene I knew I wanted to do something to the song “White Rabbit” because it’s such a weird and funny song with such a great build, so the bit came after the song.

    CN: How did you come up with your bits? Did any of them come from real life experiences?

    IE: I think just like any show, some of it comes from personal observation, and some of it comes from just sitting and brainstorming ideas. I think Jazz Face came from noticing how people react to Jazz music. And then the Luchador scene is basically what I was doing as a kid. I’ve always loved wrestling and Luchador masks, so that scene was inspired from that.

    CN: You tackle so many variations of body language and physical movements in this piece; you really stretch the audience’s imagination and change all expectations of what might happen next. Was it difficult coming up with so much diverse physicality?

    IE: When you give yourself the task of coming up with a 50 minute show where you can’t speak, you have no choice but to vary it up. Just like a standard sketch show will have blackouts, some political stuff and relationship scenes, I had to translate that into a show where I didn’t speak. Some of the scenes have to be high energy, some of them, a little bit smaller. For some of it you use other parts of your body, ‘Oh, cool! I’ll use my hands and only my hands’. Some scenes you play multiple characters and some you just play one character. And variation in music. Making sure I’m hitting a bunch of different time periods. For the most part my taste tends to be really, really old. So I thought ‘Ah, I should throw some Daft Punk in there’.

    CN: I love how you use some improv, and audience participation in the show. Why did you decide to layer in that art form, and did you find it difficult?

    IE: It was another challenge for me. Can I do pieces that are improvised while not speaking? So I came up with this scene that is mad-libs like, where the audience gives me suggestions and then I act it out. Here’s the thing: I love this type of work so much that I can sit and think about it forever and still come up with ways to do the things that standard comedy shows have, but without speaking.

    CN: Can you tell me a little about the web series idea?

    IE: It follows a curious, whimsical character as he experiences life without speaking. Frank Caeti (director of the live show) and I are writing and producing it along with Maker Studios, Principato Young Entertainment, and Key and Peele. Some of it is taken directly from the live show, and some of it has been written exclusively for the web series. This character experiences everything from a hipster coffee shop to a jazz club to his thoughts that wander when he’s at a laundromat.

    CN: Ithamar Has Nothing to Say is a one-man show, but how important was it to have a creative team to collaborate with, such as working with your director, Frank Caeti?

    IE: Once I knew I wanted to do this show, there was no question in my mind who I wanted to direct it. Frank and I have known each other for so long, and we’ve been working together for so long that it’s such a great, fun, working relationship. He is so smart when it comes to comedy. He’s such a good director because he’s such an amazing performer and writer. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this without him.

    CN: Can you give some advice to upcoming comedians who might want to create a one-man show but don’t know where to start, and who want to get seen more but are afraid of failing? What are some things you learned during your process of creating, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say?

    IE: First thing I’d say is you have to see a lot of comedy and do a lot of comedy. There’s something to be said about creating your own work. Taking all of the stuff that you’ve learned, and really going out there and writing something for yourself. I remember watching this documentary about comedy, and the one thing that remained constant was everyone saying, ‘The whole time we were writing, we were just writing to make ourselves laugh’. Trust your own comedic instinct and just try it. Don’t be afraid of it failing because the good thing about it not working is that you figure out a way to make it work. Give yourself the opportunity to try it somewhere in front of people. You have to be willing to throw yourself out there without a net. Otherwise you won’t succeed and you won’t create. Also know that you’re never done with something you create. There’s always stuff to work around with and a year from now who knows where this show will be? Maybe I’ll be in another show where I’m talking non-stop. You just never know what’s ahead. So do the thing that you’re excited about now and trust that it’s going to grow into something else and might lead you in other directions.

    ITHAMAR HAS NOTHING TO SAY can be seen every Saturday at 8pm through Dec 20th at Second City Hollywood.

    TICKETS

    The Second City Studio Theatre is located at 6560 Hollywood Blvd. LA, CA 90028

    10/30/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 15 2014

    Wellness Week Schedule

    Click Here to Register for Wellness Week

    WHAT IS WELLNESS WEEK?
    Congress established National Mental Health Awareness Week 24 years ago in 1990 due to the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization we recently sponsored.

    During this week, October 5th-October 11th, mental health advocates and non health-based organizations (LIKE US!) across the U.S. join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses such as anxiety. We are hosting events because of our growing Wellness Program which includes Improv for Anxiety (IFAX), Improv for ASD, and Humor Doesn’t Retire: Improv for Older Adults.

    We are providing opportunities to show what we are doing with our program and invite the public to participate in and learn about Improv! We hope that everyone will take this opportunities to simply connect, take risks, and try something new in an open, safe environment. Challenge yourself to "Yes, And" a new experience!
    The Second City Training Center is excited to share our unique philosophy centered on connecting with others and building ensemble. Come play with us!

    All events free and open to the public. Ages: High School and up

    10/5/2014, 5:00-6:30PM, Room 301
    Hannah Bailey
    Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) for Actors

    10/6/2014, 10am-1pm, Room 405

    Piero Procaccini
    Intro to Improvisation: Improv Basics for Beginners

    10/6/2014, 6pm-6:50pm, Room 403

    Becca Barish & Mark Pfeffer
    Intro to Improv for Anxiety

    10/7/2014, 5:00-6:50pm, Room 305

    Janna Sobel
    Storytelling & The Gift of the Truth

    10/8/2014, 12:00-2:00pm, Donny's Skybox
    Stephanie McCullough Vlcek
    Singing Against the Darkness

    10/8/2014, 4:00-6:00pm, DeMaat Theatre
    Rachael Mason & Jeff Bouthiette
    Self Discovery through Improvised Song

    10/8/2014, 6:00-6:50pm, DeMaat Theatre
    Aaron Graham
    Making & Faking Confident Choices in Music Improv

    10/8/2014, 6:00-6:50pm, Room 403
    Molly Fisher & Nick Johne
    Intro to Improv for Aspies and Individuals with
    Autism Spectrum & Similar Disorders
    10/9/2014, 5:00-6:50pm, Room 301
    Lynda Tourloukis
    Laughter Yoga Workshop

    10/10/2014, 9:00am-11am, Room 301
    Ruth Williams Hennessy
    Whole Body Voice Workshop

    10/10/2014, 10:00am-11am, Donny's Skybox
    Lauren Dowden
    Improv for Older Adults- Presentation & Play

    10/10/2014, 11:15am-12pm, Room 305
    Susan Messing & Rachael Mason
    I'Mprovising Right

    10/10/2014, 12:00pm-1:00pm, Room 305
    Ashley Nicole Black
    Getting Past Writer's Block
    Participants: Please bring a pen and a notebook
    10/10/2014, 1:00-3:00pm, Room 305
    John Hildreth
    Scenic Improv

    10/10/2014, 3:00-4:00pm, Donny's Skybox
    Jim Winter
    The "Sense" of Humor

    10/10/2014, 4:00-6pm, UP COMEDY CLUB Showcase and Reception
    WELLNESS WEEK SHOWCASE
    Director: Nick Johne

    Doors open at 4pm
    Lights up at 4:15pm
    Host: Ashley Nicole Black
    Sorry Bouts featuring Erin Lann & Brooke Montoya
    Therapy Players
    Wellness Program Ensemble

    5:00-6:00pm Reception: Free Appetizers and Beverages

    10/11/2014, 9:00-9:50am, Room 301
    Hannah Bailey
    Vinyasa Yoga Class
    Participants: Please feel free to bring your own yoga mat!

    9/15/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 22 2014

    The Second City Chicago Training Center to Double its Pipers Alley Footprint

    The Second City, Inc. announced today the signing of a lease with Old Town Development Associates, L.L.C., to expand into additional space at Pipers Alley (230 W. North Avenue) formerly occupied by the four-screen AMC movie theater. The new space will allow The Second City Training Center, the largest school of comedy in the world, to add an array of student-centered facilities including new classrooms, two student theaters, a screening room, a student resource center, a student lounge and bar, two large special events spaces and additional space for the companies’ growing businesses. The new lease adds 25,000 square feet to The Second City Training Center's current 20,300 square feet of space essentially doubling the school's current footprint. In total, The Second City will occupy nearly 75,000 square feet in Chicago's Old Town.

    Named one of “The 25 Best Drama Schools in 2014” alongside Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University by The Hollywood Reporter, The Second City continues to develop an entirely unique way of creating and performing comedy. Last month, The Second City Training Center announced the launch of its TV, Film and Digital Program, under the direction of Jack C. Newell.  New classrooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including voiceover studios, on-camera training studios and editing suites to accommodate the Digital Program launch.

    "We are very excited to enhance our students' experience with the development of this new space,” says Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc. “This will give the opportunity for more student performances in front of audiences, resources to enhance their education, places to work and collaborate, and program-specific materials and technology in classrooms. For our team, it's taking what's already a fantastic training institution and heightening it to the best experience possible for our students."

    The second-floor space at Pipers Alley first opened as a movie theater in 1991, and has been unoccupied since AMC went dark on May 26, 2011. The Training Center’s multi-million-dollar build-out begins immediately, with physical enhancements to include opening up the bricked-over 22-foot high window arches overlooking North Avenue and Wells Street.  The space is expected to be completed and serving students by spring of 2015.

    Long in the works, the expansion is in response to The Training Center’s desire to launch new and progressive programming while maintaining the high teacher to student ratio and enhancing the overall student experience. With the acquisition of the AMC space, the Second City Training Center can keep its educational programming under one roof – close to its history and next to its professional theaters. Students on a professional track can get even more stage time, and with the growth of the overall student body, additional theaters can accommodate end of term graduation performances. The new Student Resource Center will give students an actual on-site workspace.

    "For years we've been listening to student feedback and building this plan to fulfill their requests,” says Kerry Sheehan, President of the Second City Training Centers & Education Programs. “Not only will we be able to better accommodate our wait lists in core programs – such as improvisation and writing – but our newer initiatives into digital media and advanced classes for the professionally tracked student will have room to grow and thrive."

    The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theaters and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full-time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City Training Center has a current student body of 5,000 per week and is the largest school of comedy in the world.

    # # #

    More from the Chicago Tribune.


    7/22/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 7 2014

    Student Jacob Williams returns to Nick Cannon's Wild N Out!

    After taking our 'Acting on Camera' class and frequenting our open mics, jams and drop-ins, Jacob Williams returns as a cast member on the MTV2 improv show Wild N Out on Wednesdays at 10pm this summer. Hosted by Nick Cannon with guest stars each week, episodes will be available to stream on the show's website the day after they air.

    Say hi to Jacob on Twitter and check out the show here

    7/7/2014 Comments (0)
  • Apr 17 2014

    Congrats to Conservatory Grad Allison Tolman on 'Fargo' Lead Role

    Allison Tolman is turning heads as the lead in FX's 'Fargo', Before landing blockbuster roles, Allison was taking classes at The Second City Training Center and working hard to get ahead. Check out the inspirational Sun Times article on Allison below to find out more.

    http://voices.suntimes.com/arts-entertainment/the-daily-sizzle/fargo-the-place-to-be-for-chicagos-allison-tolman/#.U1A7uVVdWNg

    4/17/2014 Comments (0)
  • Mar 12 2014

    The Second City Announces the Bob Curry Fellowship Recipients

    The Second City is very excited to announce the recipients of the first annual Bob Curry Fellowship. The sixteen recipients are Ali Barthwell, Sam Bailey, Lisa Beasley, Shantira Jackson, Peter Kim, Lauren Malara, Torian Miller, Saliha Muttalib, Chucho Perez, Dewayne Perkins, Patrick Rowland, Rashawn Nadine Scott, Niccole Thurman, Travis Turner, Kimberly Michelle Vaughn, and Damian Jason White. 
     
    The Fellowship will begin on Tuesday, March 25th with master classes taking place at the Second City Training Center for eight weeks on Tuesday and Thursday 4pm - 7pm.

    A culminating and celebratory showcase for family, friends and Second City staff is scheduled  in the e.t.c. theatre Wednesday, May 28th. Time is yet to be determined.

    As you may be aware, this is an exciting piece of history at Second City. With this new fellowship program instituted, we are delighted to mentor the inaugural group of Bob Curry Fellowship recipients. We received over 140 submissions and auditioned 85 applicants. Thank you to all of the amazing talent who came out to auditions. These decisions were not easy, but we look forward to creating access and opening more doors for talent interested in pursuing a career in comedy!

    3/12/2014 Comments (0)
  • Mar 6 2014

    The Second City Training Center Partner with School of Rock

    The Second City Training Center and School of Rock Chicago team up to introduce Rock City Camp: An Opera of Rock, a stage-writing performance camp for teens aged 14-19, beginning July 7. Over two weeks, musical all-stars with multiple performance skills in music and theater, will create an original storyline, learn rock music and develop original music to produce a never-before-seen show. Rock City Camp will take place July 7 - 18 at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Sessions are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For consideration, please fill out an application HERE before the March 31 deadline. $1200. Needs-based scholarships are available.

    "The Second City enjoys finding partners to collaborate with in all areas of our business, from our theaters, to our corporate work, to our training initiatives," says Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc. "This one-of-a-kind program with School of Rock is a fantastic blend of two organizations with similar ideals: expanding the education opportunities and styles for our youth students, while keeping the ideas of teamwork of creativity at the forefront of their experience."

    "School of Rock Chicago joining forces with the legacy and stage prowess of our new pals at The Second City is like having Jackie Chan, David Lee Roth, Freddy Mercury and John Belushi as your spirit animals," says Adam Mackintosh, regional manager for School of Rock Chicago. "Clearly, I'm beyond sensible words here. This might be the coolest thing I've ever been a part of."

    At the conclusion of the two-week Rock City Camp, students will perform rock classics and original songs in a two-night performance at Chicago's Athenaeum Theatre. Enrollment is open to drummers, guitarists, keyboardists, improvisers, actors, writers, vocalists and more who are ready to take their skills to the stage.

    The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theaters and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full-time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City Training Center has a current student body of 3,500 per week and is the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the world.

    For more than a decade, School of Rock has been inspiring kids to rock on stage and in life. Students develop confidence, talent and skills, through beginner, intermediate and advanced music programs. School of Rock offers music lessons on guitar, bass, piano, vocals and drums in an authentic, performance-based environment. School of Rock operates 129 schools in 26 states and 8 countries, with new locations opening worldwide every month. School of Rock Chicago has been on Ashland for 7 years and has a long, successful history of providing great camp experiences across broad themes for interested families.

    Visit www.SchoolofRock.com for more information.

    Read more here.

    3/6/2014 Comments (0)