Improvised scenes inspired by a guest musician.
Performed on stage, and also once in Shannon’s apartment, which was recorded on video and will finally be shared with you all Fall 2014.
Wonderful guest musicians play a few of their songs, and after each song, the rotating cast of improvisers (from UCB, Second City, IO, Magnet Theater, the PIT, everywhere!) create scenes inspired by the mood, images, themes, or words from the song. Nothing is planned; sweet, tragic, or ridiculous relationships unfold, worlds are created or destroyed, souls enlightened or crushed, and magic truths underscored with laughter.
Show creator and director Shannon Manning, who studied improv with Del Close in Chicago, Second City, and UCB, and cofounded Magnet Theater says, “Beauty Love Truth was born from the tragedy a decade ago in New York. The title came from an attempt to distill ‘What is the Point of Anything Anyway’ into three words…Beauty! Love! Truth! So we explore the images and ideas of the musicians, and celebrate the art of others, which is the heart of improvisation (and of life!): to listen, to learn, to build on someone else’s ideas, to make good people look good, and crush the evil, to serve the whole. Of course the show also goes into goofball territory but we need that, too. The music grounds the show, spiritually and structurally.”
The show also builds community, drawing on performers and audiences from music, improv, standup, literary worlds. Every show is introduced by an artist who presents something on the topic of beauty, love, and/or truth. The improv cast includes some returning veterans and a few new ones, and even guest actors who usually do not improvise. “The audience is the most important part of this community,” says Shannon. “We believe there is something magical about the experience of live music, and of improv, and being in New York gives us the opportunity, the calling, to collaborate. Our audience becomes a part of that experience with us, the active listening, and the discovery.”
The 2011-2012 monthly run at the PIT was produced and directed by Shannon Manning and Louie Pearlman. Manning and Pearlman have taught and performed Beauty Love Truth in Calgary, AB Canada with local musicians and improvisers, and hope to bring the show to more cities so people can create their own forms based on the model and foster more music/comedy crossovers. They also spread the form via Pearlman’s Teen improv classes in NYC, and Shannon’s Improv for Poets and Geniuses.
Beauty Love Truth members on Cat Radio Cafe with Janet Coleman and David Dozer on WBAI. Listen online (starts at 5 minutes in.)
Future casts, special guest actors, and musicians might not be publicized so join the mailing list if you want the scoop.
Musical guests have included:
- Amazing Jellies
- Bob Dorough
- Boreal Sons
- Chris Mills
- Common Prayer
- Dave Foster
- David Nagler of Nova Social
- Doug Gillard
- Georgia & Ira of Yo La Tengo
- Greg Peterson
- Joe McGinty
- Kaki King
- Lee Feldman
- Leon Dewan
- Lianne Smith
- Marykate O’Neil
- Matthew Caws of Nada Surf
- Mike Doughty
- Mike McGinnis
- Niall Connolly
- Stephan Said
- Stranger Cat
- Tatum Greenblatt
- The Spring Standards
- Warren Malone
and so many improvisers. They’re in the sidebar and in the history page.
Here’s what some improvisers say about the show:
Matt Higgins: I LOVE it! The profoundly talented monologists and musical guests of Beauty Love Truth gift the improvisers with vivid imagery and feeling. These images and feelings and rhythms and melodies suggest and inspire rich environment. The music, especially, sets up the improvisation with sincerity. And sincerity is where the kind of funny I love comes from.
Betsy Todd: I was thrilled to be part of this show. I was extremely happy with the group you assembled. Everyone was committed to a good time. And it felt really nice to play with some old familiars and some complete strangers. The musical aspect of the show is a definite bonus. While watching and listening to Mike play, I found myself really involved and invested in what he was doing. And because he was so serious and so great, it gave the improvisers room to do any type of scenes we wanted. Even if the scenes were riotously funny, it still worked with his music because it’s all coming from a place of real emotion.
Ed Illades: My experience with Beauty Love Truth was wonderful, specifically the Spring Standards show. You run the most organized improv show I’ve ever been a part of, and it feels great because it made me feel like I was in good hands. So thank you for that. The format of the show is a lot of fun because it almost forces you to slow down while you listen to the music, and it keeps resetting you as an improviser as well as inspiring you further. It keeps an energy through the show that is consistent. The best part of the experience for me was (a) hearing the Spring Standards and being a collaborator with them, and (b) getting to play and collaborate with such wonderful, experienced improvisors, all of whom are willing to play slower and patient and emotional improv.