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Process Publicity Image.jpg

Theater The Hideout Theatre
Directed by Jeremy Sweetlamb
Initial Run Mar/Apr 2012
Subsequent Run(s) Jul/Aug 2016

Process is a longform improv show that takes the audience through the process of producing a (fictional) play. It is a recurring mainstage show at The Hideout Theatre.


A performance of _Process_.
A performance of Process.

Each show had a number of pre-assigned roles for that night's cast. One performer would be the director of the (fictional) play, who would run the auditions and rehearsals within the world of the show. Another would be the stage manager (again, with the world of the fictional production), who often gave the director someone to talk to and bounce ideas off of, and generally kept things on track. Additional cast members would work tech for the evening, and several more would work as the "Desi Team". It was the Desi Team's job to stay in the green room, listen to the first acts of the show as they happened (via a PA system installed in the Hideout) and build props, costumes, and scenery elements that could then be used in the show.

The show itself began with the director getting the play's title as a suggestion from the audience. The director typically let the audience shout out a number of titles before going with the most promising and inspiring one. Then the show began with auditions, where the main cast went before the director and stage manager with prepared pieces, typically from plays based off of the unused audience title suggestions.

After that first act, the show segued to rehearsals, including a section of the play's "table read", and then various exercises and stumble-throughs in the rehearsal.

Then the show went to intermission. The Desi Team would have, by this point, put up a display featuring the title of the play and headshots of the actors (complete with the fake names the performers came up with during auditions). During the ten-to-fifteen-minute intermission, they'd work frantically to complete their design elements for act three and put them in place.

Act three consisted of a section of opening night of the play. By this point, the actors would be in costume, the set would be decorated appropriately, and appropriate props would be available onstage. The audience would see the end of the play on its opening-night performance, and that would conclude the show.


Before the Hideout Mainstage Runs

Process had its origins in "The Play Format", a longform that the Well Hung Jury came up with when they were invited (as an "experimental" act) to play a fringe stage at the Chicago Improv Festival in 1999 or 2000. Instead of blank scripts, they used scripts with "IMPROV IMPROV IMPROV" printed in the layout of a play's script. Instead of an opening "audition" section, the first act was a table read. There was no stage-manager character, and the third act didn't include any costuming or props (all props were mimed).

In the mid-2000s, the Available Cupholders played The Play Format sporadically, sometimes in combined shows with Parallelogramophonograph.

Then, in 2010, Jeremy Sweetlamb put together a group in New York City called The Hypotheticals. (The group consisted of him, Lee Eddy, Ben Sterling, Jeff Mills, Viviana Olen, Jeff Lepine, and Caitlin Sweetlamb.) They returned to The Play Format. They tried introducing the audition section, and met with great success. They also created the tech director/stage manager as a way to help the director keep things moving and straightened out endowment-wise. The Hypotheticals played the format a number of times at The PIT and the Tank theater. Jeremy Sweetlamb and Caitlin Sweetlamb played the format at The Hideout Theatre (as "Gardetto's Snack Mix") on 8/27/10.

In the summer of 2011, the Available Cupholders attended the Sarasota Improv Festival, and were invited to stay an extra week to do a run of shows. They presented The Play Format. They were playing at a top-notch professional theater (The Florida Studio Theatre), which allowed them to raid their prop, scenery, and costume storage for elements that they could use during their run. The shows were a success, and adding prop, scenery, and costumes to the third act went over particularly well.

Shortly afterwards, Bill Stern, having moved to Chicago, presented a run of the show with his group K. C. Redheart. He wasn't in love with the name "The Play Format", and renamed it Process.

That winter, Jeremy Sweetlamb produced a holiday-themed run of the show at the Florida Studio Theater, and discovered that hewing to a specific genre let him get very specific props and costumes that would fit their improvised show perfectly.

First Run (2012)

When Jeremy Sweetlamb moved back to Austin, he immediately pitched the show to The Hideout Theatre under its new name. It received a mainstage run there in March and April of 2012. This run introduced new elements, mostly geared towards cranking up the theatricality and "completeness" of the show: a larger selection of props and costumes were kept backstage for the third act; they introduced a "Desi Team", three cast members who would sit backstage, listen to the show, and quickly design and build the elements they'd need for the third act; they created a display of fake headshots, complete with the fake names the performers had come up with during auditions, to display during intermission.

The run included a performance in The 2012 Improvised Play Festival. The run was so successful, they added an extra 6pm show on closing night.

Many performances of the Hideout mainstage run had pre-determined genres:

  • Absurdism
  • Shakespeare
  • Musical
  • American Realism
  • All-Girl-Middle-School Production

For the remaining shows, they just let the title and table-read dictate the genre.



Between Runs (2012-2015)

Meghan Wolff directed a run of Process at the HUGE Theater in Minneapolis that ran from May through July of 2012. Its performances ran for 50 minutes, and did not include the 'audition' section.

Process was part of The 2012 Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. It used a portion of the 2012 mainstage cast, and included Bill Stern as a guest director.

Second Run (2016)

The show is returning in 2016 as a Hideout mainstage show.







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