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Posts Tagged ‘Bobbi Block’

Making Art in 2017: Bobbi Block on Tongue and Groove

Posted August 26th, 2017

Name: Bobbi Block

Company: Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater

Show in 2017 Festival: Tongue & Groove (that’s what’s listed in the Guide, tho the name of our show this year is QUESTIONS)

Past Festival shows: We’ve produced shows in the Festival for 9 years! Last year: Before I Die…; the year before that, a collaboration with blues dancers called Groove, and many others!

FringeArtsTell us about your show.

Bobbi Block: Tongue & Groove is unscripted theater inspired by personal information anonymously submitted by the audience. Our mission is to create theater that combines the dramatic integrity of playwriting with the playful tension of improv. Through collaborative inspiration with the audience, we examine authentic relationships, and perform emotionally dynamic, physically intimate, serio-comic theater . . . that happens to be improvised!

The concept for creating T&G came from working with and teaching all different forms of improv: games, longform, Playback (communal storytelling). I was inspired by the work of world-class Chicago improvisers TJ & Dave who create beautiful one-act improvised plays that are both funny and dramatic. I wanted to create a hybrid of all those improv forms, and I wanted to explore regular realistic relationships. Ten years ago, when I founded T&G, I was tired of seeing improvisers avoid being vulnerable on stage—like they would be just about to kiss and then suddenly they make the whole thing surreal or into a wacky joke. There’s a place for that in the improv world—I love performing short-form games that are wacky—but I wanted to see if improvisers could explore human relationships more authentically.

After we honed our style (called Actors’ Improv), we realized that we wanted more interaction with the audience so we started asking them to anonymously reveal personal information (written on index cards and submitted pre-show). We found the collaboration and intimacy with the audience very fulfilling, and the audience loved seeing a piece of their real life turned into instant art. So now we combine our emotionally-grounded work with collaboration/intimacy with the audience.

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Fringe at 20 Profile: Bobbi Block

Posted September 2nd, 2016
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Bobbi Block (photo by JJ Tiziou)

Name: Bobbi Block

Type of Artist: Theater Artist; Producer; Director; Dancer; Drummer

Companies: Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater; LunchLady Doris; ComedySportz; P3: People’s Percussion Project; Unidos da Filadelfia

List of Fringe shows I’ve participated in: I have produced and performed in every single Fringe Festival since the first one, including many years when I produced and performed in multiple shows. There was only one year when I didn’t produce, though I did perform with my band one night that year, so I’m counting that as participating in every single Festival! My memory sucks, so thank god the Fringe Guide Archive is online or I would not have been able to make this list!

  • The Improv Marathon, 1997 – producer, performer, host [Got every improv group that existed at that time to perform back to back, I think it was a grand total of 5!]
  • Debut of LunchLady Doris at the Quarry Street outdoor stage, 1998 — artist, co-producer [LLD was a 5 member longform improv company (the first in the city) that ran for 12 years, with Dave Jadico, Karen Getz, Kelly Jennings, Kevin Dougherty.]
  • Bingo Bedlam, BbBb Productions, 1999 – director, producer, actor [A 10-minute play in which ALL of the words start with the letter B; featuring Jen Childs, Tony Lawton, Pete Pryor]
  • Birth-day!, P3: People Percussion Project, 2002 – co-producer, co-choreographer, dancer [The debut of P3 as part of the curated Fresh Moves series, co-founded with Judy Freed]
  • Late Night Cabaret, 2002 — MC
  • P3: People Percussion Project, 2003-2004 – co-producer, choreographer, dancer
  • LEAP! The Actors’ Improv Experiment, produced by LiveArts, 2007 – conceived and directed [w/ Megan Bellwoar, Catharine Slusar, Ben Lloyd, Tom Byrn, Joe Guzman]
  • In Bed, Tongue & Groove, 2007 – producer, director actor [Fringe Debut of Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theater*]
  • LunchLady Doris, 1998-2008 – actor, co-producer
  • Secrets, Tongue & Groove, 2008-2009 – producer, director, actor
  • UnSpoken, Tongue & Groove, 2010 – producer, director, actor
  • Six, Tongue & Groove, 2011 – producer, director, actor
  • Le Grand Continental, LiveArts produced, 2012 – dancer
  • WHO, Tongue & Groove, 2012 – producer, director, actor
  • Secrets, Tongue & Groove, 2014 – producer, director, actor
  • Unidos da Filadelfia, 2012-2015 – drummer
  • Groove, Tongue & Groove, 2015 – producer, director, actor [A collaboration with blues dancers and musicians]
  • Before I Die, Tongue & Groove, 2016 – producer, director, actor

*Current and Past Tongue & Groove ensemble members: Fred Andersen, Megan Bellwoar, Beth Dougherty, Adam Gertler, Noah Herman, Matt LydonJennifer MacMillan, Carol Moog, Ed Miller, Eoin O’Shea, Seth Reichgott, Josh Rubinstein, Fred Siegel, Rebecca Sharp,Carrie Spaulding, Jordan Stalsworth

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Tongue & Groove (photo by Aaron Oster)

First Fringe I attended and highlight: I was there at the very start (go on, Grandma). The highlight was the exciting community vibe in Old City. The first several years, with everything taking place within several blocks, it was just so much fun to hop from show to show. You’d bump into people, ask what they were about to see or what they just saw, and just dash off to the next performance without planning. You felt you could take a chance on just about anything, cause everything was only 5 bucks. There was no on-line sales back then, so the ticket-buying process was in person and very communal – the box office was the place to see and be seen. I also loved the cabaret in the old days when you would see snippets of shows as teasers and then decide whether or not you wanted to see the full production. The cabaret was one big love-fest, kinda like a family — with Scott Johnston as a very weird ‘Dad’ of us all — plus you never know what might happen there. You wouldn’t think to miss a night of the Cabaret or you might miss something everyone would be talking about the next day!

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Tonguing the Groove

Posted September 9th, 2012

Today, Bobbi Block of Tongue & Groove ran from performing in Le Grand Continental at the Art Museum over to Rittenhouse for the first night of her group’s run at the Playground at the Adrienne. After the jump, this Philly Fringe vet—she’s produced or performed in a show at every Fringe—talks about what makes Tongue & Groove: Spontaneous Theater different from other improv. You should read it for a number of reasons, not least of which is that they are forebears of the spirit of 2012 Philly Fringe nakedness, for all their promo photos, including this year’s (see below), involve no clothes. After the jump: we talk, because you only subscribe to this blog for the interviews.

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