Happy Valley Improv finds permanent theatre in downtown State College
CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Thespians, comedy lovers, and curious theatre-goers can now claim tickets to see Happy Valley Improv in their brand new performance space, Blue Brick Theatre.
Today, the group announced their move to 209 W Calder Way. The space is across from the H&M storefront and formerly housed The Makery, which moved to a new location at the beginning of the month.
“Before this, we were pretty much a nomadic company, and we didn’t have a place to kind of call our home,” said James Tierney, business manager & co-founder for Happy Valley Improv. “Having a centralized place where people will know, ‘This is where I’m gonna go to watch improv and to watch all things comedy in State College,’ is just awesome.”
The group’s leaders say having a central location will help build a community.
“Improv is so much about building a community,” Sam Tanner, co-artistic director & co-founder for Happy Valley Improv. “It’s a natural outgrowth of our mission, which is to just bring improv theatre to the community and to create community out of that improv theatre, so, we’re pumped.”
The facility can house up to 50 audience members and will include lights, sound, and concessions.
“Think of going to New York City, in a back alley, and you go into this, you know, with brick exposed and watching some super fun comedy, that’s what we hope to create here,” said Tierney.
In addition to improv shows and open-mic nights, there will be educational opportunities and workshops.
“We are actually going to try to create a youth improv program that will meet regularly here,” said Tanner.
Plus, Nathan Rufo, co-artistic director & co-founder for Happy Valley Improv said, “We’re going to offer a free improv practice group every Sunday to the community.”
The theatre’s name, Blue Brick Theatre, is a combination of two practices Happy Valley Improv follows. The first comes from sharing a “blue ball of energy” and the second is building their work brick by brick.
“This can be in any collaborative thing,” said Rufo. “You don’t want to come in with a completely pre-determined idea.”
The “curtain” will officially rise on July 9 and 10; however, they will be offering select classes in June.
Right now, if you sign up for their mailing list, you’ll receive a free ticket to a future show.
“Just watching the ways people are transformed by doing improv, there’s nothing that I know like it,” said Tanner.
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Happy Valley Improv, State College’s premier long-form improv comedy group, opened a new theater downtown on Friday. It will kick-start the venue with a slate of performances this weekend.
The recently opened Blue Brick Theatre sits at 209 W. Calder Way in the former location of The Makery, which moved this year to a smaller site on Fraser Street. The new space provides Happy Valley Improv with a permanent home and an opportunity to grow in State College.
Happy Valley Improv will break in the new venue with a show at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 9. Additional shows are scheduled through the end of the month. You can grab tickets for $12.50 apiece through the group’s website, and students are eligible for a 20% discount.
The Blue Brick Theatre will feature more than just live shows, though. Happy Valley Improv co-founder and Penn State professor James Tierney said the group is planning an improv festival for September followed by a larger event next spring.
Additionally, Happy Valley Improv will host a number of classes for all ages, covering topics like improv comedy to introductions to stand-up.
“We will just continue to grow and see what the community wants,” Tierney told The Centre County Gazette’s Vincent Corso. “If the community wants more open-mic nights for stand-up, then we are going to give them that. If the community wants more nights of classes and only one show a week, then that is what we are going to give them. We very much want the community to be involved in this.”
More information about the brand-new theater and Happy Valley Improv is available online.
By day, Matt is a senior majoring in journalism. By night, he's Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football lover, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza and "Arrested Development" quotes. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ if you hate yourself or email Matt at [email protected] if you hate him.
STATE COLLEGE – Surrounded by family, supporters and company members, James Tierney and Andrea McCloskey, founding members of Happy Valley Improv (HVI), cut the ribbon at the new Blue Brick Theatre, located at 209 W. Calder Way in downtown State College.
“We’re excited to celebrate having a home for the improv community here in State College,” Tierney said. “A place to learn, to grow, to laugh – and to make people laugh!”
So, what can the community expect?
“People will have a weekly opportunity to come downtown, grab dinner at one of the delicious restaurants and see live, unscripted comedy,” explained McCloskey.
The venue serves as HVI’s permanent home and will host regular, live improv shows, comedy open mic nights and workshops.
Youth Stand-Up Comedy Camp wrapped up recently with more classes and workshops on the horizon.
“Along with classes, shows and workshops for adults, we will also be starting a weekly after-school improv program in August,” added Tierney.
Additionally, comedy festivals are also in the works. An “XS Improv Festival” is planned for September while an “XL Improv Festival” is being planned for 2022.
The commonly-used “yes, and” methodology of improv comedy also has applications in corporate settings, according to Tierney, whose day job is working as an Economics Professor at Penn State.
“Happy Valley Improv will also offer corporate workshops,” Tierney noted. “We are now able to accommodate up to 50 members of your team and facilitate a session on topics such as team building, creativity or communication.”
From building teamwork and communication skills in a business setting to providing a creative outlet and entertainment venue, the company members of HVI are certainly a value-add to the community.
“We know that the quality of life—especially the live/work/play balance—is an often-cited reason for residents’ happiness and also why they choose to live in this area,” noted Vern Squier, president/chief executive officer of the Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County (CBICC).
“Happy Valley Improv’s new location in downtown State College will be an enjoyable addition to our growing arts atmosphere.”
“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the community,” acknowledged Tierney. “Being a member of the CBICC and The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau has helped tremendously, as well as having the support of The State Theatre and 3 Dots enabled us to get to where we are now.”
For more information, please visit HappyValleyImprov.com and BlueBrickTheatre.com.
Improv happy valley
.USCOTS 2019 - Performance by Happy Valley Improv
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