Friday, February 12, 2010

Interview with SHULIE COWEN

1. Where are you originally from and what was the improv scene like there?

I am originally from Princeton, NJ. I don’t know if there was improv there, but I don’t remember seeing any. Maybe it’s time to open IO-NJ.

2. What made you want to start doing improv?

It seemed fun, like playing a game on stage.

3. What stumbling blocks did you have to overcome when you first started studying improv?

Probably all of them. But constant practice and classes can cure anything.

4. How long have you been doing improv?

I don’t remember how long ago I started, but I know FDR and Ulysses S. Grant were in class with me.

5. What’s your favorite part about improvising?

One of my favorite things about improvising is the opportunity to be completely in the moment, focusing only on the scene at hand.

6. What is one of your best memories on stage at iOWest?

One night last October when the entire cast of Opening Night: The Improvised Musical! went down. One person was having a baby, one had just had a baby, someone’s wife was in the hospital and one person was shooting a commercial. Two hours before the show I found that the only people who would be able to do the musical that night were Kerri-Ann Lavin (an understudy) and I. I walked into IO that night an hour and a half before the show, and saw Sean Cowhig, who used to run our lights and had played with us once a year before. He agreed to do the show on the spot. The three of us had a lot of fun flying by the seat of our pants, and trusting we’d work it out. We did.

7. What’s some advice you would give to someone that’s starting out?

Have fun and know that mistakes are part of the deal. Don’t get down about them, learn from them and use them.

8. Who is someone you really look up to in the improv world and why?

Dave Razowsky. He is a super specific player who takes his time. His commitment to every scene is palpable.

9. Other than your own, what is your favorite show at iOWest?

There are so many great shows at IO. Right now I’m loving Beer, Shark, Mice, and Cherry.

10. How do you use improv in your professional life?

In my acting, I use it to help me stay in the moment, and let me know I’ll be OK if I lose my line.

11. If you could sum up iO in one sentence, what would that be?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

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