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The Tribe Presents: December 2005/January 2006 Newsletter

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This issue at a glance:
1.) December 9th is the Tribe Theater's grand opening show and charity event.
2.) The Tribe premieres its new website.
3.) We introduce our new improv mainstage, The Tribe Players.
4.) The Tribe's Member Team Program announces its new teams.
5.) Almost Live Movies: Nationally Recognized Neutrino Video Projects launches its exclusive Boston chapter with The Tribe.
6.) This holiday, no wrapping required with Tribe gift certificates.
7.) Laugh and learn: The Tribe Training Center is open for business.
8.) A cappella all grown up: The Tribe's Inner D.
9.) The Tribe interviews our own Dennis Hurley about acting, writing, and Running with Scissors.

December 9th is the official Tribe Theater's grand opening show and charity event. On Friday, December 9th, please join The Tribe as we celebrate the Grand Opening of The Tribe Theater in Boston's Theater District at 67 Stuart Street. We will be be raising money for The United Way of Massachusetts to help fight poverty at the local level; 100% of the profits will go to charity. The evening will kick off with a reception from 7-8pm that will include a live brass quartet. Guests for the evening's performance will get a chance to meet and mingle with Tribe members. Our show begins at 8pm and will feature improv sets from our mainstage group The Tribe Players, seasonal songs from our own a cappella group, Inner D; as well as musical accompaniment by an orchestra for our finale. The evening will be hosted by Chris Nowinski, the WWE's only Harvard grad and a cast member of MTV's "Tough Enough."

The Tribe premieres its new website, and you're looking at it! We're delighted to announce our new web site, a comprehensive, database-driven site that is both a treat for the eyes and fun and informative to read. Our old Web address, www.thetribepresents.com, will forward to our new site. Be sure to check out The Tribe store for products available nowhere else. Seriously.

Introducing our new improv mainstage, The Tribe Players. The Tribe's flagship cast entertains audiences with a variety of show formats every Friday night at 8pm. Described by the Boston Herald as "powerfully polished", The Tribe Players perform a unique combination of short- and long-form improv; every show is different, and on any given night can range anywhere from slapstick to satire. The players are available for corporate shows and have recently performed for clients such as Digitas and Leader Bank. If you would like to hire The Tribe Players for an event, or have a referral, please e-mail us at corporate@tribeboston.com.

The Tribe's Member Team Program announces its new teams. The Tribe is pleased to announce its unique Member Team Program, launched this fall. The Member Team program empowers artists to bring their visions to life, casting their own troupes and choosing their directors with the support and guidance of The Tribe. Teams can grow organically from the Boston theater community, or be cast as pilot troupes by The Tribe. Member troupes are self-sufficient, artist-driven teams. Our goal is to create an environment that fosters new cutting-edge shows, eagerly anticipated by artists and audiences alike. The program is already nine-teams strong. Below are all our Member Teams. To learn more about each team, please click on a group name below, or click Meet the Tribe.

Our Current Teams:
Damn Skippy
Directors' Lab
Divide by Zero
Neutrino Boston
New England Family
The Rumble
Sea Mission: Aquanauts Prime
Spinning Hardcore
The Uncommonwealth
Too Darn Hot
Wrong Kind of Funny

Almost Live Movies: Nationally Recognized Neutrino Video Projects launches its exclusive Boston chapter with The Tribe. The Tribe is proud to announce its partnership with the nationwide Neutrino network. Using a structure developed by Neutrino Video Projects in New York City, this troupe of daring improvisers takes to the streets to make an almost-live movie based on your suggestions. Neutrino films in the area surrounding the Tribe Theater, incorporating whatever people, items, and locations they can find. Then they run the tapes back to the theater and create a movie as the audience watches. Neutrino Video Projects premieres in February, but catch their stage show as Ten Union Robots in the meantime. For more information about the Neutrino network, please visit http://www.neutrinonation.com.

This holiday, no wrapping required with Tribe gift certificates. You can purchase gift certificates online for Tribe shows or classes. Our level 1 improv classes start January 17th and our shows run every Thursday and Friday. Gift certificates are available in many convenient denominations. Click here for more info.

Laugh and learn: The Tribe Training Center is open for business. Starting this January, come learn improvisation with The Tribe, voted best comedy club three years running by The Boston Phoenix. Click here for more info.

A cappella all grown up: The Tribe's Inner D. In addition to conducting, producing, and composing live and prerecorded music, our Musical Director, Brett Benge, is the founding member of Inner D, The Tribe's all male a cappella group. Brett has been involved with a cappella music since his highschool days, but Inner D brings a grown-up and innovative, yet entertaining and accessible sound to a genre closely associated with college groups, human beat boxes and 80's pop covers. Inner D is an a cappella group, but will be accompanied for one number by an eighteen-piece orchestra at The Tribe Theater launch show on December 9th. Since all profits from the show will go to the United Way, the Music Director wanted to close the evening with a familiar song in the spirit of love and charity. So Brett pulled together a fabulous group of players to perform The Beatles' “All You Need is Love.” The ensemble includes strings, brass, saxophones, drums, guitars, keyboards and, of course, Inner D. All the musicians have graciously agreed to donate their time for the cause. We cannot thank them enough for their help.

The Tribe Interviews our own Dennis Hurley about acting, writing, and Running with Scissors.
A member of The Tribe's Film and Sketch group, Comedy Bronze, since January 2005, Dennis Hurley is active in many areas of film and theater. Dennis discusses some of his adventures in Boston, Hollywood and in between in this month's Tribe interview:
How did you get the part in the upcoming Gwyneth Paltrow film, Running with Scissors?
At the end of 2004, I decided to take a break from the stress and lack of money that came with living in NYC and spend some time in my native Boston. I kept in touch with a talent agency that I freelanced with while in New York, did some Internet research on what was being cast at the time, and then had an agent set me up with the West Coast casting director. I sent in my reel with a recorded audition and they called a week later to offer me the part of "Michael".

What was it like to film your scene and how is acting in film different from on stage?
I met the director, Ryan Murphy (creator of Nip/Tuck), on the first day of shooting. He shot three takes of my scene and he generously answered all my character and technical questions between takes. We filmed inside a mansion in Los Angeles. The entire house was strewn with dusty props, books and cobwebs to replicate the Finch house described in the book. In both stage and film acting, I find that specificity in your character's intention is key. When the lights go up on you in a play or in an improvisation set, truth and sincerity are still hugely important, but you have a lot of room to create your environment and play with your energy level. I've discovered that film acting, however, takes a lot of relaxation, stillness and trust. You have to let the camera "meet your performance" as opposed to trying to force an emotion or push for laughs. You have to trust the character/script work you've already done, never push, and when you hear the word "action", you let the camera do all the work.

You've been proactive in marketing yourself as actor. Have any tips?
Devote some of your Internet surfing time to acting research. Find out what's being cast both locally and nationally. You might find you have some time in the near future to go audition for something you might be right for. Try www.actorsaccess.com, www.actorslife.com, or www.backstage.com.

Are you most interested in writing or performing?
Acting is my main passion. There is no greater feeling than when you know you're in the moment, doing your best work in front of the camera or on stage. But as a writer, hearing the audience's reaction to your own words is another great feeling all together.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you write alone, with a partner? How does improv factor in?
I've mostly written short films, plays and sketches on my own when I have the time and when I feel can't contain the idea in my head anymore. I find that being an actor helps my writing because I can speak the line of dialogue before I type it and make sure the line sounds believable. I've also written with a partner on several occasions. Having another comic mind to write with, in my experience, can really deepen and enrich the material. I fully appreciated the value of improv in the writing process while working with Comedy Bronze. We re-improvised a sketch many times in order to make sure we weren't missing any comedy gold...or..."bronze".

You have an ongoing two-man sketch show with The Tribe's Dave Sawyer called Sawyer & Hurley. How do you put together your shows?
Sometimes we improv and write sketches together in rehearsal. But usually, Dave writes his sketches, I write my sketches, we meet up and try to squish them together into a sketch show. But we also improvise together on stage in between the sketches.

You're involved with the organization Positive Exposure. Can you tell us a bit about the kind of work they do and your involvement with the project?
My friend Rick Guidotti is a photographer who created Positive Exposure, a non-profit organization that challenges the stigma associated with difference and celebrates the richness of genetic variation with positive images and life stories. Basically, I met Rick at a Albinism and Hypo pigmentation conference, Rick shot my headshots and asked if I wanted to help out with spreading awareness about albinism. There are a lot of people out there who think that "albinos" have red eyes, are evil, and have magical powers. Unfortunately the media's portrayal of albinism hasn't created any awareness to combat those assumptions. People with albinism in books or "albino" characters portrayed on film are usually demons, a one-joke character in a Jim Carrey movie, or assassins (which is funny considering most people with albinism are legally blind). Through my work in teaching, acting, writing and film making, I want to let it be known that albinism is nothing to fear and also help young kids with albinism see that there's nothing stopping them from pursuing their dreams.

Tell us about the two plays you had produced in New York.
The Break Up (not to be confused with the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston flick) I wrote in 2002, a one act play about a night class called "Clarity in Dating Relationship Communication" where this couple is forced to speak to each other by the textbook rules only.

City Oblivious is a two act play that I started writing in 1999. The play was just produced last August at the Theatre Studio Inc. in Midtown Manhattan. The piece is essentially three different stories that take place in the same city about the sometimes blurry line between a friendship and relationship.

Do you have an anecdote about a particularly bizarre or memorable theater/filming experience?
I was performing murder mysteries and Neil Simon comedies while on a year-long national tour. It was four actors traveling in a four passenger seat van, we doubled as the crew. We were performing this interactive murder mystery at this country club somewhere in Texas. Seeing as this was in interactive show, we had prepared sides (lines) to give to someone in the audience. On this particular night, we gave the sides to the owner of the country club, hoping everyone would get a kick out of seeing the owner end up being the killer at the end of the show. Only problem...the owner was completely hammered, proceeded to read the wrong page of dialogue, and revealed that he was the killer well before the end of Act 1... and we still had two acts to go. How we fixed that and went on with the show... it's all a haze of improv to me, now. What happens on tour... stays on tour.

How did you become interested in acting and writing?
Since I was a kid, going to the movies was, by far, my absolute favorite thing to do. My love for acting grew when I got involved with my high school drama club. Then I attended Ithaca College for actor training. As for writing... I had a lot of time on my hands the summer before college, so I started writing a play, just to see if I could do it. The play wasn't half bad and I had fun writing it, so I continued to write.

You've done a lot of extra work for major television productions, including Saturday Night Live. Can you tell us about that experience?
SNL was a blast, an absolute dream come true. The SNL casting director called me on Friday and said, "Jennifer Aniston is hosting tomorrow night and we need a Gunther for the "Friends" sketch, you kind of look like him, are you available?" I said, "Heck, yeah!" I was there all day Saturday for the first rehearsal, the dress rehearsal, and then, of course, the live show. Wandering around the studio between rehearsals, I felt like I was on some kind of "E! Behind The Scenes" of SNL show, or something: Tina Fey was marking up scripts, Jimmy Fallon was improvising new stuff in the rehearsal, Darrell Hammond was putting on a wig, practicing his Donald Trump impression, I was loving it. But nothing beat the moment when I got into place on set, the music came on, and Don Pardo said, "It's Saturday Night Live!"

You also teach improv and acting to children. How do you approach teaching improv to young people? What are the challenges?
I begin with name games to get the students better acquainted. Second, I do some kind of voice and movement warm up. Third, depending on the class' focus, I either teach stage etiquette, lead a free-writing exercise, or play a few improvisation games. The kids love the games and most of my games focus on projection, character development, and confidence on stage. As for challenges: In every class I've taught from K - 9th Grade, half the kids are totally frightened and hesitant of acting and the other half act like they were born on a stage. There's not always enough time to nurture each student at their own skill level.

What was the audition and callback process for Steven Sheinberg's FUR like? How did you prepare? What was something you took away from the experience?

I met the casting director of FUR through a friend while I was in NYC. The CD called me in to meet with Steven Sheinberg to audition for the role of a homeless man opposite Nicole Kidman's character. The script hadn't been written yet, so I didn't have much to work with prior to the meeting. Sitting down and talking with Steven, it became clear that I wasn't going to read sides or do a monologue, he just wanted to get a feel for my personality. It was a fun and relaxed meeting. A week later, I received a phone call from the CD. She said Steven was looking for someone a little older than I was. What did I take away from the experience? I should have put off shaving and showering for a month. Then maybe I would've been a more believable homeless man. Sure I might have been too young for the part, but never underestimate the power of method acting.

To learn more about Dennis and his projects:
- Visit his personal websites: http://www.dennis-hurley.com and http://www.myspace.com/djhactor
- Visit Positive Exposure's web site: http://www.positiveexposure.org
- Attend one of his upcoming performances of Sawyer and Hurley in Winter 2006. Dates to be announced here.
- Attend the screening of The Lobby at The Coolidge Corner Theater in December. Dennis Hurley wrote and appears in The Lobby, which is produced by Down Cellar Productions, which Dennis founded.
- The feature film, Running With Scissors, will be released in late 2006. Visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0439289/ for more info.

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