Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August 19, 2014 ARTLab: Penny Arcade!


I’m so excited because this week for ArtLab we have Penny Arcade Comedy getting silly in the museum! Penny Performers Tessa Karel and Renee Rabenold will take inspiration from our permanent collection and create improvised scenes right in the galleries. You’ll have a chance to discuss the artwork and witness a one-of-a-kind theater and comedy experience that is shaped by your very own ideas! As usual, ArtLab is free with museum admission and is super fun for all ages!

Improv comedy is a type of theater experience where an entire show is made up right on the spot. Penny Arcade is a comedy show especially for children and families based out of Arcade Comedy Theater in downtown Pittsburgh. During a typical Penny Arcade show, the audience participates in “collaboration stations” which use crafts to make silly props and costumes and literary prompts like lines of dialogue or character names to help generate ideas that are used in the show. Because the show relies on audience participation, each show is unique!


As a museum educator and improv performer myself, I see a lot of connections between installation art and improv. An installation is not complete without visitors walking through and interacting with the artwork, just as an improv show relies on audience suggestions and engagement to give life and energy to the show. Both are site-specific: an installation is created for a specific location and is influenced by the space, community, and context in which it exists, just as improv show is shaped by the ideas that were generated at that moment by that particular audience and group of performers. Once an installation is taken down, it cannot exist anywhere else because it’s meaning and context would change, just as each improv show is only seen once and never seen again, because the chain reaction of ideas could never happen in the exact same way ever again. The ephemeral quality of both improv and installation art is what makes it very special. It also means your physical presence is required to fully experience both installation art and improv. Luckily our permanent collection isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the Penny Players will only be at the Mattress Factory for a short time so you better be at our ArtLab this Saturday at 1pm!If you can’t make it this Saturday, Penny Arcade will be performing in The Kids Comedy Cabaret, part of the first-ever Pittsburgh Comedy Festival! The show is on Saturday, August 23 at 1 p.m. at the Stephen Foster Memorial in the Henry Heymann Theatre. The Mattress Factory education department will also be there with an installation activity for audience members to build! The final product will give inspiration to the show! Both the installation and the show will be one-of-a-kind, and once the show is over, it will never be seen again.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Mattress Factory this Saturday, August 16th and again at The Kid Comedy Cabaret on August 23rd for some art and some laughs!

   -Karen Forney, Museum Educator