Monday, May 25, 2009

this here is a link to the article on for our win as BEST Theatre Company and BEST Live Theatre Venue.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tournament of Champions

This is going to be one of my classic blogs that begins... back in san diego.

ah hem.

back in san diego, where the weather is nice and the sand comes with oceans and not gila monsters, the high school league tournament is a well oiled machine with ten years under its belt. its a big deal. its the highlight of the year and the perfect kick off of the summer season. its a roller coaster of emotions between the dozen or so schools in their long running league and their coaches, all of whom have been teaching at their particular school for years.

here in phoenix, as in many things, this is year one. our first year for the league, our first tournament. and, in the absence of an army of coaches... i instructed both of our teams this year... and put together the tournament... and hosted the tournament... and attempted to explain how things work to everyone involved, none of whom has ever seen or been part of the High School League or Tournament at all.

whats this all about? they asked.

well, you see, its a bit complicated this year. tournament is the opportunity for HSL teams to shine. to show off what they know and see how far they have come. this year, even though our league consisted of two schools, there was as much to consider as though we had 20 or 30 different schools. yes, basha and horizon are equal to about 15 schools apiece. basha and horizon came in with different personalities and priorities and abilities and talents on each team, they couldn't have been further from each other geographically, but both schools had an intense drive to win.
(to be fair, the trophies were pretty nice. i kinda wanted to win one too.)

at tournament both teams presented an individual showcase, hosted by their own players and laid out to show off the best of their abilities. basha's was a team effort, co-hosted by danielle and dylan, and showing off the best of what they have learned from NCT this year. Horizon's was tailored and fast paced, hosted by Bo and showcasing the library of games in Horizon's repetoire not played by NCT.

after that was the main event, a competitive show between the two teams and evaluated by 7 impartial NCT judges and 1 guest judge from Arizona's Independant Film Project. They kept score based- not on the show score- but on the criteria of teamwork, scene work, execution of the games and the rules, sportsmanship and showmanship.
after the show the judges deliberated and discussed their scores and finally decided on a tournament winner and awarded individual awards to many of the players.

i have to say, im glad that i was not in on the judging. i think that, on top of the stress of the tournament itself, having to decide between the two teams- my two teams- my brain may have melted and then leaked out my ears and you know who would have had to mop that up? me. best to leave the judging to the impartial who didn't know the kids in advance and didnt already have a fondness for each crazy character. i thought they were all funny, smart, good at improv, great at working together and i was really impressed. to me, it was pretty even and i wished we could have sawed the trophy in half and given it to both schools... which is WHY i wasnt in on the judging.

it came down to a two point game and, in the end, Horizon High School took home the Tournament Champions Trophy and Basha High School took home the one-of-a-kind runner up FrankenTrophy.

after the tournament both teams chose new captains for next years teams. Brittany from Basha's Sudden Impact passed her torch to Dylan and Danielle as co-captains and Bo of Horizon's 56th Street Players handed off the title to Harrison.

We already have several schools inquiring about next year's League, and I predict that we will more than double the League's size. We will need to get some more coaches in there, and im looking forward to expanding the Phoenix HSL until the san diego starts a blog and begins all their posts with the phrase, "see, how they do it in Phoenix is..."
however, i hope to continue coaching Horizon and Basha. my teams. tournament champions!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


today is going to be a better than average wednesday. i am so happy to tell you that NCT Phoenix WON's BEST poll in BOTH categories we were nominated in...

including Best Theatre Company
and Best Live Theatre Venue

fantastic! i really hope we get a sticker to put up in our window. a sticker would really mean that we have arrived.
thank yous all around to everyone who voted for NCT all of the numerous times we badgered you to do so, see... it paid off!



Saturday, May 2, 2009


tonight was a festival of screw ups. almost entirely all my fault. thats the thng about improv... sometimes the train comes off the rails.

i sort of rushed out of the house because... the screw ups actually began yesterday.

we bought otter pops to give out as treats at the end of the show, one of the special things included in the anniversary show celebrations. but... they did not get put in a freezer. they got put on a table. a table with very little cooling or freezing capabilities. leaving them, of course, still 100% liquid. at nct we dont even have a freezer to put them into. really, the table was the best we could do.

so, i had the brilliant idea of getting some dry ice and burying them in it hoping that the 209 degrees below zero would freeze them in time for the end of the show.
so, i rushed out the door to make sure i had enough time to get them into some dry ice to freeze. which meant i had to go get dry ice.

i had a crap ton of stuff loaded into the car to take to the show including a table, a computer monitor and pants. i knew i had to stop to get dry ice... to be fair, theres really alot of stuff banging aroud in my brain. not all of it useful, in fact, alot of the useless stuff (like all the words to the theme song from greatest american hero and the names of every character from buffy the vampire slayer) pushes the important stuff right out the door. as i was pulling out of the smart and final parking lot i realized... i forgot the computer. no way to sell tikets without a computer. not a big deal, unless you plan to sell tickets... panic.

i thought seriously of having dorian drive the 30+ miles out to the theatre to bring the computer, sick or not. but lucky for me, my dad was coming to the show anyway and was willing to come early with a laptop. thank jeebs that all of our programs are on the internet so that any computer will do. thank you, series of tubes. crisis 1 averted.

i also forgot my shoes. yep. i wore flip flops. and did not bring other actual shoes. lucky again that dorian has such petit feet... he had a spare pair of shoes at the theatre that i wore. and they were these super dorky old man white orthopedic numbers, i dont even know why he has them at all they are so terrible- but a man who wears crocs almost constantly cant be expected to make good footwear choices. they were only a little bit clown like on me. crisis 2 averted.

on to the show. major screw up number one came during 3 impossible things when i said one of the suggestions out loud right in front of the player guessing.

i reffed the show, so i was getting suggestions. let me go back a step though... another thing we did for the anniversary shows was put together little gift bags of candy and stuff to give randomy to the audience for good suggestions or whatever. so. getting suggestions for 3 impossible things and someone shouts out 'osciliscope' which is some kind of electronic device, i dont know, the guy explained it. but, it was a totally random and really difficult suggestion and i thought it was great. i noted to myself that i should give him a gift bag, but i got so caught up in whatever else that i forgot.
so im explaining the game and simultaneously thinking of when i should give the guy a gift bag without slowing down the flow of the game. ah, i think to myself, right after the audience volunteer comes back in with bobby (the guesser) i'll grab two gift bags while they are coming back in and give one to the audience volunteer and one to the osciliscope guy. good plan.
so i call them back in and get two gift bags and give one to the guy who has just come back in with bobby and toss one to the other guy saying "heres a gift bag for you for volunteering, give him a round of applause! and heres a gift bag for osciliscope guy."
i realize that i just said the suggestion out loud. in front of the guesser. oh my god. worst possible thing a ref could do. so stupid. everone laughs. i laugh. and i may have accidentally let a bad word slip out, i dont really know. i was so embarassed and shocked at my own stupiditiy. hey, its improv. anything can happen, including totally screwing up a game... anyway. he didnt get it right. even after all that.
bobby either didnt hear what i said exactly or just didnt know what the thing was because he guessed calidescope and couldnt remember what i had actually said.
so. well done all around.

to everyones credit we kept right on rolling. then i screwed up again.
hey, heres another fun idea of something to do for the anniversary shows... lets make up a totally new game by combining two games that already exist! we will put all the games in a bucket and let the audience choose two of them and we will combine those somehow to make a new game! what a fun idea. how spontaneous and improvy! so for this show, the audience drew lie detector and chameleon. not too difficult to mash up. it was great, except i screwed up reffing it.
as the team was saying all the lines and throwing out red herrings i accidentally crossed off a line that they didnt say instead of the one that they did say. so, there i was thinking that they still had a line to use and lo and behold, they had already said them all... there i am saying, theres still one more line. theres still one more line. and everyones like... wha?
to our credit again, they just went with it and repeated the line again that i was waiting for. yippee.

way to make 13+ years of improv training and 3+ years of reffing shows work for you, krissy contact lenz.

you'll be pleased to know that it was not a total disaster... the otter pops did freeze. at least the ones in direct contact with the dry ice. which was enough for me.

what a long night.
its lucky for me that we have a great team and that improv is the sort of profession where screwing up is practically unavoidable. it was memorable, to say the least.

i didnt screw up anything in the second show. but, then again, i didnt ref.

tickets are still available for saturdays anniversary shows. who knows what will happen?

believe it or not, im walking on air.
i never thought i could feel so free-ee-ee.
flying away on a wing and a prayer.
who could it be??
believe it or not, its just me!