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Default Maestro Image.jpg

Theater The Hideout Theatre
Directed by Various
Cast Various
Run 1999-Present

Maestro (originally spelled Micetro) is a competitive short-form improv format. It has played at the Hideout Theatre on Saturday nights at 10 pm continuously since 2000. It's the longest-running improv show in Austin.


Keith Johnstone invented Maestro (originally known as "Micetro" and still called that outside of Austin) when he was asked, on short notice, to concoct an improv format that 50 people could play. He initially called it "The New Game." When Sean Hill founded the Hideout, Micetro was one of the games he brought from BATS in San Francisco.

In February 1999, Dan O’Connor and Brian Lohmann directed the first Micetro show in Austin for Austin Theatresports at the Public Domain Theatre at 807 Congress Avenue. Edi Patterson was the first winner. Later, Micetro was one of two shows (Gorilla Theater was the other) performed by Theatresports at the Hyde Park Theater, and part of the original programming when the Hideout opened in 2000.


Show Structure

As performed at the Hideout, Maestro typically has between 11 and 13 players and two directors.

The directors host the top of the show, explaining the structure of the show, warming up the audience if necessary, and then introducing the players. The players all name themselves -- this is the last time the players are referred to by name. Each player wears a number (from 1 to however-many-players-there-are), and that serves to identify them for the duration of the show.

The players clear to the sides, and one of the directors sets up the first scene or game. They do this by selecting some number of players at random (they do this by pulling numbered chips; those correspond to the players' numbers) and giving the players some sort of scene or game setup. After the scene or game finishes, the director takes the stage and has the audience score the scene (by applause) from 1 (bad) to 5 (good). Once the score is obtained, each player goes to a specially-designed scoreboard to assign themselves that many points for the round.

Then the other director sets up a scene with some number of remaining players (again, selected at random). The show proceeds like that, with the two directors taking turns at scene setups and scoring, until all the performers have played. This is the end of a round, at which point the directors have the option of eliminating low-scoring players. After that, all the chips for the remaining players go back into the box, and the directors start another round.

The show proceeds like this, typically with eliminations after each round, until only one player remains. That player is crowned the "Maestro" for the evening, and wins the prize of a framed Canadian five-dollar bill.

Often, tie-breakers are used in Maestro, say if it's down to two remaining performers with equal scores, or if the directors want to eliminate three players out of a five-way tie for last place.

Other Information

The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival includes an "All-Star Maestro" performance, which usually has 24 players.

The Hideout sporadically puts on Blue Maestro, which is the non-family-friendly version of the show.

Once a month, as part of The Wheel, The Hideout puts on Maestro RAW, which is cast mostly (if not exclusively) from Hideout students.

Notable Moments in Maestro History

On May 18, 2002, an audience member was selected to fill a gap in the Maestro cast and won.[1]

In 2002 or 2003, Maestro played for an audience of two—a couple on a date, the only people who bought tickets. During the second round Sean Hill directed Twin Pillars, meaning that the scene was played for an empty house.

On December 1, 2007, a special "Maestro of Maestros" was performed, directed by Shana Merlin and Andy Crouch, and containing a cast of only previous Maestro winners. Bryan "Lubu" Roberts eventually won the title, defeating Dav Wallace in the final round. He now waits for a worthy cast of challengers.

On December 15, 2012, the Maestro cast was short one player, and the audience itself was conscripted as a cast member, with rotating audience volunteers standing in for #10. The audience played the final tie-breaker scene using Speak in One Voice with Peter Rogers, and collectively awarded itself the Maestro.[2]

On November 9, 2013, a couple arranged for a marriage proposal to occur during the final scene of Maestro. During the final round, they were called onstage as audience volunteers, and the players used a "dubbed moving bodies" format to get them into the right position onstage before backing off and letting the proposal happen. The scene got a 5. And on December 13, 2014, Todd Koenig proposed to Beth Condra in the show.















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