by Cast member Elizabeth Brammer
I got an email from the director of Eye for an iPhone, the week of opening night. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it basically said, “I want you to sing a song!” I sort of stared at it for a while, considering. On the one hand, a request to sing a song is flattering, especially someone so accomplished as Dave Buckman, who has directed comedy revues at Second City and is one of the most respected, accomplished improvisers in Austin. The lyrics and style of the original piece are very fun to play with. It was a real chance to shine – after all, it would be opening the show.
On the other hand, I don’t sing. I have never liked to sing, never done a musical, never even done karaoke. When people sing “Happy Birthday”, I usually just mouth the words. Did I really want to commit to singing this song, every week, for three months? What if it went so badly the first night that I never wanted to sing again? The only time I remember singing on stage was in the fourth grade. I sang “Puff the Magic Dragon”. And I don’t remember anything after that. What happened, I couldn’t say, but after that performance, the only time I’m ever nervous on stage is singing. I will get up on stage and do a lot of other things and not have the slightest worry. Improv, sketch, plays, dancing, taking a pie to the face – it’s all in the interest of entertainment, and I never worry about looking like a fool (especially when that’s sort of the point).
This show was born from improv, and improv is my love. The magical thing about improv is what comes out of collaboration. People working together towards a common goal, supporting each other’s choices, building a world of play that is both rooted in this world and yet more honest and exciting than this world usually is – are capable of such amazing spontaneous creation. This show transcends the typical sketch procedure of writing (usually alone or in small groups), revising, casting, memorizing, and presenting material.
Each of the sketches and songs were developed over three months of improv shows and previews, with tweaking, dropping, adding, and re-conceiving along the way. The ‘end result’ is a mix of three songs and a mix of absurd character-driven scenes, searing satirical sketches, and ensemble pieces. Even now that the show is set, there is still room to play together and let the characters and scenarios expand their potential. It’s a truly dynamic show – one of a kind in Austin.
Eye for an iPhone serves as an example of a whole being greater than the sum of its parts, as each week in rehearsal and in front of preview audiences, everyone in the cast came together in an act of developmental creation. It became difficult to say who had what idea, what came from a moment of improv and what came from an outside source. Each of us own this show, and we own it together. No, own might be the wrong word. Each of us are this show.
That’s the thing about improv, and this show, that remove my nerves. If you’re with the right people, you don’t feel afraid to fail, because there is always someone there to hold you up. And you are there to hold someone else up when you can see that they’re floundering. This group of improv and sketch writers (Alison Alvarez, Josh Kirlov, Andy Petruzzo, Bryan Roberts, and Justin York) is one of the best in town, no doubt, and one of the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with.
And THAT is the reason I decided to sing this song. If you can be there for your cast, in a way that might otherwise be too terrifying for words, because you know they’ve got your back, and they believe you can do it- then you do it. Rise to the challenge do what you can to make the show the best it can be. So I will sing this song, ever week, until January.
If it sounds terrible, just assume it was supposed to be that way.
And don’t expect me to start doing karaoke now. I’m silly, not crazy.
I’m doing this for you, audience, so come see our show. It’s Eye for an iPhone, and it plays Fridays at 8pm at ColdTowne Theater.