The NYC Physical Comedy Lab —or “fiz com lab” for short— is not a class, not a workshop, but a jam of practitioners in a field that includes clowns, circus and variety artists, dancers, mimes, comic actors, etc. Different people come each week, and out-of-town guests are always welcome. We share warmups, games, improvs, skills, gags, and works-in-progress. Very little is planned, every week is different, but usually, one idea leads to another to another and we arrive somewhere new.
We usually create some kind of a scenario by the end of the 3 hours combining the skills worked on that day.
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I think of it as a research lab, meaning we are free to explore whatever without the time constraints of a workshop intensive or of a show about to open. We don’t have to jump to a final product but can just aimlessly play with objects and movement to see what we might discover. During Jim’s visit, we did a warmup with different people leading different stretches, then played a wild and wacky movement game involving all kinds of objects and patterns, then had a knife-throwing lesson from magician Ben Robinson, which had everyone channeling their inner Jim Bowie or Davy Crockett.
Then we continued last week’s experiment with repeating patterns of people and objects passing through our MTW (modular trickwork wall), only this time we transferred the concept to more of a story, a sort of human Rube Goldberg machine, a high-speed mechanical restaurant with Ben Model as our repeat customer.
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For more information and location of the lab check out the Facebook Page HERE!
“It’s Magic Time!” That colorful promise began each performance at the Caffe Cino, the storied Greenwich Village coffeehouse that fostered the gay and alternative theatre movements of the 1960s and launched the careers of such stage mainstays as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Robert Heide, Harry Koutoukas, Robert Patrick, Robert Dahdah, Helen Hanft, Al Pacino, and Bernadette Peters. As Off-Off-Broadway productions enjoy a deserved resurgence,theatre historian and actor Wendell C. Stone reopens the Cino’s doors in this vibrant look at the earliest days of OOB.
Rife with insider interviews and rich with evocative photographs, Caffe Cino: The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway provides the first detailed account of Joe Cino’s iconic café theatre and its influence on Americantheatre. A hub of artistic innovation and haven for bohemians, beats, hippies, and gays, the café gave a much-sought outlet to voices otherwise shunned by mainstream entertainment. The Cino’s square stage measured only eight feet, but the dynamic ideas that emerged there spawned the numerous alternative theatre spaces that owe their origins to the risky enterprise on Cornelia Street.
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Excerpt from the Introduction
Caffe Cino, 31 Cornelia Street, NYC
Joe Cino (L.) and Edward Albee at a benefit for the Caffe Cino after a fire, 1965, Photo: James D. Gossage.
The most interesting training an actor can really have is ‘physical theater’ training. This is where the actor learns to act ‘from the outside in’.
I have been an advocate of the technique of French master Jacques Lecoq and his training. Many performing groups that I have photographed over the years have been trained by either Lecoq himself or someone that studied with him.