“Yes, and…” is the one statement JStar, Founder and Artistic Director of The Basement Theatre always teaches his students to say, so that no idea is ever overlooked. JStar joins us on today’s Around Atlanta episode for a fun conversation on how Atlanta’s best underground improv comedy theatre was born and what an important part improv plays in our daily lives. His first words of encouragement, “It’s not what you say, it’s that you said it.”
JStar is a Sandy Spring native who studied at Oglethorpe University where he accidentally became part of the cast in a movie. Once he got a taste of acting, he pursued his career by studying theater at Georgia State University. His first introduction into improv was through a class with Atlanta’s Laughing Matters Theatre. “Once I took the class, I was hooked,” stated JStar. “It was acting, drama, comedy, and it was immediate. I knew this was the career for me.” Is it a coincidence that on April Fool’s Day in 2004, The Basement Theatre was born?
JStar and his crew entertain thousands of Atlantans Thursday through Saturday nights, but for the last six years, JStar has also traveled the world to a variety of places and festivals performing and teaching improv. He is even the first person to teach an improv class in Nepal! “One improv class changed my life,” he stated. “It’s about teaching people to say ‘yes’ and just open up whether it’s in their personal or professional life.”
Improv is a go-with-the-flow engaging performance that helps everyone break out of their shell. The Basement Theatre is the only live theater company in Buckhead that will train anyone who wants to learn and practice improv theater. There are multiple improve and stand-up comedy performances each week that allow students, newbies and groups to perform on stage. “Improv is about bringing people together,” explained JStar. “On Thursday nights we have a Side Show performance that allows different groups that don’t have a home theater yet to come and perform.”
The Basement Theatre is located in the basement of an office building where a small, intimate setting really allows the performers to connect with the audience. There are age appropriate shows for everyone. Thursday at 8 p.m. Side Show takes place and at 10 p.m. Atlanta Improv Jam happens. Friday night at 8 p.m. is Family Fun night rated G for all ages. “This is a show where your kid can be laughing, grandma can be laughing, and even the hardest teen of them all can be laughing,” stated JStar. Friday night at 10 p.m. Late Night shows, rated R, begin and adults only can have their fun. Saturday nights at 8 p.m. are Fast and Funny where the shows are rated PG-13 and at 10 p.m. After Hours begins where the shows are rated R.
The Basement Theatre also has a corporate program as a resource for business teams who need improvement on team building, working together and leadership. “Improv teaches listening,” J. Star said. “Harvard, Yale, and MIT are all requiring improv classes a core business class because it teaches team building, creativity and allows you to think of your feet and express yourself without judgment.”
JStar is currently making plans to move the theater to a bigger space with more street presence while maintaining the intimate feel of the current basement theater room, which seats 50 audience members. Click the link above to tune into today’s show and hear some of the amazing advice that JStar has to offer. For information on shows, actors and classes, visit www.thebasementtheatre.com.
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