ALCA Takes Center Stage with Annual Gala

featuring entertainment by Green Room Improv

The Alexander Leigh Center for Autism will take to the stage for their “Night of ImprovABILITY” annual
gala on Saturday, April 30th at the Raue Center in Crystal Lake, IL. The evening will include a silent
auction, various raffles, ALCA presentations, and will conclude with a set from Green Room Improv. In-
person tickets are $100, while a virtual viewing is offered at $50.

All proceeds from the gala will go towards helping ALCA provide an environment where children on the
autism spectrum can develop their potential; academically, emotionally, socially, communicatively, and
physically.

To purchase tickets visit https://aesbid.com/ELP/ALCA22/

The Alexander Leigh Center for Autism (ALCA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, full-day, year-round therapeutic
day school approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for children 3-21 years old with
autism spectrum disorder (ASD), OHI, multiple disabilities, developmental delay and/or intellectual
disability. ALCA currently serves students from Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry, and Will counties. It
is our mission to provide an environment where children on the autism spectrum can develop their full
potential and gain functional independence.

Event Contacts: Megg Wallen: mwallen@alcacenter.org
JD Harshbarger: jharshbarger@alcacenter.org

Contact Phone: 815-344-2522
Media Contact: Patrick Hastings: phastings@alcacenter.org

How Improv Comedy Can Train You to be a Better Person 

By Jess Smith 

Many people view improv like a magic trick— an exciting spectacle that they could never replicate themselves. It’s not true though! Everyone is smarter and funnier than they give themselves credit for. Some of the key tenets of improv are the same guidelines for being a reliable and thoughtful person in life. 

So, regardless of your experience with improv comedy, let’s dig past the jargon to reveal 3 little nuggets that improv teaches us about being a better person. 

#1 – Yes, And 

Known as the number one rule of improv, “yes, and” refers to 1) accepting/agreeing to your circumstances and 2) adding to them. In improv, a performer wants to say “yes” as often as possible in order to propel a story forward. If you and I are in a scene together and you say, “Grandma, Happy birthday; I baked you this cake!” The worst thing I can do is to say “no” and 

deny you. “I’m not your grandma! I’m your twin sister! And it’s not our birthday!” Ew. I’ve basically communicated that I didn’t like any of your ideas and mine were better. That’s no way to begin a scene, let alone a conversation, relationship, etc. We always want to be accepting of our circumstances. Maybe I had a fun idea with that twin storyline, but if I’m going to be a scene partner that puts the scene we’re building before my own interests, I’m going to listen to what you’ve provided, agree to it, and add to it. 

I should give more information about our relationship, our location, the cake. “Junior, you always make me feel so special; I’m so glad you threw my party at a McDonald’s play place even after your embarrassing incident in the ball pit last year.” 

Ahhh. Much better. We’re in agreement of who we are, what’s happening, and I’ve set you up with some information so you can easily “yes, and” me back. 

#2 – Speak After Listening (or, avoid “Cookie Monstering”) 

It’s important to listen with the goal of understanding. From there, even though you might have a plethora of ideas that you can’t wait to unload, only some of them will work for the situation at hand. What solution is really warranted? What original thought is being summoned for this exact moment? We have to be discerning in what we share because if we spew all of our ideas at once, we’ve muddied the delivery of our best idea. Similarly, we’re not appropriately responding to an issue if we give solutions to problems that don’t exist and don’t acknowledge the ones that do. 

The alternative is called “Cookie Monstering” which refers to what happens when improvisers get comfortable onstage and have too many ideas at once. They’re thrilled to have gotten the “yes, and” down and now want to show off how many fun, thoughtful ideas they have to drive a

scene forward. However, what typically happens is the performer doesn’t know when or how to include this information so they include it all at once, while other performers are also trying frantically to drive the scene forward. What results is loud, unlistening chaos. It’s like how Cookie Monster eats all of the cookies and draws attention, these performers are also just creating a cyclone of attention-grabbing bedlam. Nothing of value can be built from that starting point. 

Things can only move forward if we’re listening and understanding. 

#3 – Mistakes are Gifts! 

There is no such thing as a mistake in improv. This idea completely reframes how we deal with missteps. In an improv scene, I truly get giddy whenever I misspeak or misremember a scene element. It’s an opportunity for my scene partner to lovingly poke fun at and justify the error. It’s not wrong, it’s an opportunity. Those moments onstage are magical. For instance, if a scene partner calls me by the wrong name- both names are now correct. I now have a ridiculously complicated name which has just created another fun dimension to the scene. This impulse teaches us that our mistakes are not the embarrassing, insurmountable defeats we’ve been led to believe that they are. They are opportunities that allow us to better connect and support one another. 

Start trying out these improv axioms in your daily life. Once you make a habit of “yes, and”ing others, listening with the purpose of understanding and giving yourself grace and space to make mistakes, you’ll find that improv has reframed your brain. Happy improvising!

GREENROOM IMPROV: Surviving and thriving in a global pandemic

By: Miriam Naponelli

The performing arts is an industry that many have called “recession-proof”, after surviving and frankly thriving in The Great Depression and numerous recessions. However, nothing could have prepared industry professionals for 2020. 

GreenRoom Improv had high hopes for 2020, their 20th anniversary as an improv comedy troupe. Kicking off the year with highly attended monthly shows and already booking several gigs months in advance. However, all of that was put on the back burner during the week of March 9th. COVID-19 hit the US with a bang and what many thought would be a two-week hiatus turned into the cancellation of all in-person shows for the foreseeable future. 

Something that sets GreenRoom Improv apart from other troupes is their aim to take the world off the shoulders of their audience and bring them some joy for an hour and a half. However, with no in-person shows, that was not happening…Until April 6th, 2020 when they launched their first of several zoom shows which they aired on Facebook. 

Were they the first to try out “Live Streaming” improv? No… but what set them apart from the rest was their dedication and drive to bring laughter to people in a time that was otherwise dark. It was this dedication that led them to secure a residency at Raue Center for the Arts AND develop a brand new format that could go virtual if need be. 

GreenRoom began its residency with Raue Center in October 2020 with a capacity of 50 people and unlimited livestream tickets. Their first show back in 7 months was a sell-out. However, things took a turn in November with the virus forcing GreenRoom to go completely virtual. Since the new format was already being broadcast to the masses via livestream, this adjustment was seamless. 

And so it continued that way for the next few months until they were given to go-ahead to proceed with live performances with capacity limits. The road has not been easy that led GreenRoom Improv to a 3-year residency with Raue Center due to the global pandemic, but it has been something that the troupe is extremely thankful for. After all, if an improv troupe can’t improvise and thrive in adapting to their surroundings, then they probably aren’t worth the money. 

Come celebrate 20 years with GreenRoom Improv at Raue Center for the Arts!

(From Left to Right) - Backrow: Miriam Naponelli, Christian Zierke, Paul Gunsul, Matthew Aldis, Jess Smith. Front Row: Kerry Cox, David Hunter, Sam Barbaro.

About GreenRoom Improv:

GreenRoom Improv is an ensemble-based theatre company that specializes in improvisation. GreenRoom was founded by a group of Judson University (Elgin, IL) students in 1999 as a result of the cancellation of the school’s Theatre program.

GreenRoom plays multiple bookings throughout the year with its unique blend of clean, high-energy, multi-faceted 100% improvised comedy. The GreenRoom improvisers have performed nationally for a wide range of audiences and events.

About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 

For additional information, visit rauecenter.org or call the Box Office at 815.356.9212.

GREENROOM IMPROV JOINS RAUE AS RESIDENT COMPANY 

Improv Comedy for the whole family Finds a home at Raue Center!

Now in its 20th year, GreenRoom Improv joins Raue Center as one of its resident companies, performing its unique blend of clean, high-energy, multi-faceted improv comedy. Raue Center is the place to see GreenRoom Improv!

GreenRoom members include Dave Hunter, Matthew Aldis, Kerry Cox, Sam Barbaro, Christian Zierke, Miriam Naponelli, Jess Smith, Paul Gunsul (piano), & Erik Scheele (piano). For more information, visit greenroomimprov.com

Recommended Audience: All Ages

ABOUT GREENROOM

GreenRoom Improv is an ensemble-based theatre company that specializes in improvisation. GreenRoom was founded by a group of Judson University (Elgin, IL) students in 1999 as a result of the cancellation of the school’s Theatre program. Since then GreenRoom has performed nationally for a wide range of audiences and events. They currently have residencies in two theaters: The Hemmens Cultural Center in Elgin, IL, and Raue Center For The Arts in Crystal Lake, IL where they perform monthly. In addition to these residencies, GreenRoom plays multiple bookings throughout the year with their unique blend of clean, high-energy, multi-faceted improv comedy.

About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 

For additional information, visit rauecenter.org or call the Box Office at 815.356.9212.

Comic and Lucy’s Comedy curator John Dacosse sits down with stand-ups

A big hello and a very warm welcome back from the curator of Lucy’s Comedy. John Da Cosse for the start of the 2021 Season at the Raue Center in downtown Crystal Lake! This is our 14th year where we present a night of Stand-up Comedy on the Raue stage.

I have been performing for 40 years producing this show for the last 10, and the opening of Lucy’s Comedy series this year means more than any other. Since we have all been staying home and following safety guidelines we have tried to bring Lucy’s to you in one form or another, but this will be the first Lucy’s in over 2 years to be performed the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

The first show brings Headliner Doctor Bill Miller to our stage, an actual doctor who has been performing stand-up longer than I have, he started in LA working both The Improv and the famous Comedy Store with the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, and Richard Pryor. Recently his humorous YouTube rant on how the medical community is dealing with the pandemic reached some 3 million views. I thought this was a great way to say thanks for his service and start our new season. 

Hari Roi will be performing as the feature act and some of you may have already watched Hari when he performed on one of our live stream shows. The host, Ted Willson, is one of my favorites! Ted has featured and hosted many times over the last few years and ALWAYS blows me away with his non-stop writing and smooth delivery. So welcome back to each and everyone and as they say, “Laughter is the best medicine“ so what better prescription than a night at Lucy’s Comedy!