Who’s behind this?
The founders and artistic directors of Countdown Theater are Kelly Buttermore and Justin Peters of the independent touring improv duo From Justin to Kelly. We spent many years performing on house teams at the Magnet Theater before leaving in 2014 to do our own thing. We’re based in New York, but we travel the country teaching and performing, and are one of the only independent duos to do so. Since 2014, we’ve performed and taught over 100 shows and workshops in 22 states. In September 2016, we co-organized with Glassworks the first annual Basement Improv Summit in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which brought together entrepreneurial independent improvisers and theater owners alike from around the country to discuss the past, present and future of improv. We’re passionate about this art form, and we’re very excited to share with you our philosophy of what it can be.
Why a pop-up improv space?
For one thing, improv itself is an ephemeral pursuit, and we thought it would be cool to create a venue that was similarly impermanent: if you weren’t here, then you missed it. Second, a short-term sublease gives us free reign to experiment, absent the sorts of responsibilities, hassles, and drama that can so often plague established improv institutions and their constituencies. We won’t be around long enough for anyone to entrench themselves, there are no levels systems or hierarchies, and there’s no “getting in on the ground floor,” since we’ll be dismantling the structure soon after it’s erected.
But you do have classes, right?
Yes. We’re teaching a weekend-long duos intensive and a handful of one-off workshops. They’re excellent classes, they’ve been road-tested, and they’ll make you a better performer while having fun along the way. (You can read testimonials here.) But you’re not required to take them in order to perform here. And it’s not the sort of thing where the theater only exists to drive people to the classes. We’re teaching classes because we love teaching, and, frankly, to recoup some of the money we spent to rent the space.
Tell me about the space.
It’s an 18′ by 14′ room in the basement of a mixed-use building on S. 5th St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, between Bedford and Driggs, close to the JMZ train at Marcy and the L at Bedford, essentially next door to the Annoyance Theater. It can fit about 20 people. We have a rudimentary lighting system, some speakers Justin brought over from his bedroom, and a stage marked off on the floor with tape. During the warmer months, the space is used as the headquarters for a bike tour business.
How much is admission?
Shows are free, though we welcome voluntary donations, the vast majority of which will go directly to the performers to compensate them for their time and talent.