Buddhas at the Bunbury

3 09 2013

Produced in conjunction with the Bunbury Theatre Company, I will perform my solo show, 185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar… in the beautiful and historic Henry Clay building in downtown Louisville this Saturday night, Sept. 7th.  Please click here to purchase tickets.

The Chicago Reader says, “Amanda Rountree is a riot!”  Audience members have described the show as “inspiring,” “funny,” “beautiful,” and “a must-see!“  The Chicagoist picked this show as one of their “three to see.”  Click here to watch a trailer for the show.  You can also click here to read a review of the show.  To purchase tickets for the Louisville performance, click here.

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, directed by Jen Ellison 185 Buddhas
Bunbury Theatre in the Henry Clay building
604 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY
$14
Saturday, September 7, 8pm

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
The art of improvisation creates stories from thin air, making the unseen seen. For Amanda Rountree, this is not just an art form, but a way of life — one that includes unexpected twists and turns — leading, if not to mastery, to enlightenment.  Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, and directed by Jen Ellison, this show follows the artist on her path with all of the funny and touching moments along the way.





185 Buddhas is coming to Louisville later this year!

29 05 2013

Louisville, Kentucky is a fantastic little city/big town.  I was very lucky to perform my first one-woman show, The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey there a few years back.  Well, I guess they must have liked me or something (or maybe they just liked the monkeys?), because they’ve invited me back!  Produced in conjunction with the Bunbury Theatre Company, I will perform 185 Buddhas in the beautiful and historic Henry Clay building in downtown Louisville this September.  (I just hope no one will be disappointed about the absence of monkeys.)

185 BuddhasThe Chicago Reader says, “Amanda Rountree is a riot!”  Audience members have described the show as “inspiring,” “funny,” “beautiful,” and “a must-see!“  The Chicagoist picked this show as one of their “three to see.”  Click here to watch a trailer for the show.  You can also click here to read a review of the show.  To purchase tickets for the Louisville performance, click here.

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, directed by Jen Ellison
Bunbury Theatre in the Henry Clay building
604 S. Third Street
Louisville, KY
$14
Saturday, September 7, 8pm

185 Buddhas Walk into a Bar
The art of improvisation creates stories from thin air, making the unseen seen. For Amanda Rountree, this is not just an art form, but a way of life — one that includes unexpected twists and turns — leading, if not to mastery, to enlightenment.  Written and performed by Amanda Rountree, and directed by Jen Ellison, this show follows the artist on her path with all of the funny and touching moments along the way.





Other Times and Places

17 06 2012

Right now I am in Chicago, sitting at home and thinking about stories.  Stories are like dreams.  They are intimate, revealing, and can transport us to other times and places.

June 5, 2012.  I’m in Seattle on vacation, taking the bus to see a friend.  When I get on the #44 and ask for a transfer, a homeless man chimes in and gives me almost-correct directions.  During the 90 minute visit with my friend we cover years and distance.  We reminisce about our Chicago trip ten years ago.  We laugh about old and new inside jokes.  She hugs me and tells me she’s sorry to hear about my sister.  After our time together, I am greeted once again by the same homeless man I saw at the beginning, sitting in the same spot on the same bus.  We both went many places by being in just one.

February 1, 1998.  I am flying out to Seattle, WA from Louisville, KY with a one-way ticket.  My sister says I am brave, but I don’t really hear it.

June 1, 2007. I am moving from Seattle to Chicago.  It’s a Friday around 5pm and I’m in traffic in my rented moving truck on Devon—except I’m pronouncing it “Devin” ‘cause I haven’t lived here yet.  I pass a street called “Pulaski” and it hits me that I’m going to be living in a very different city—one where maybe I’ll even get to hear Polish being spoken from time to time.  I pass a street named “California” and I feel so very far away from the west coast.  Later, I will arrive at my new home and load all of my belongings up three flights of stairs with the gracious help of my landlord.  Then, when the door is closed, I will sit on the floor and cry and cry.  But I know deep down that everything will be okay.

June 1, 2012.  I am in Seattle, walking past apartments I’ve lived in, restaurants I’ve dined in, and fields I’ve played Frisbee in.  I am raw with memories.  A stranger wakes me from my reverie by saying, “Are you a local?”  “Ah, I used to be” I reply.  I give her almost-correct directions.  But her question has shaken me and I worry that I’m in danger of regretting my move.  To cure this, I think of all of the reasons I am grateful I moved to Chicago (the lovely friends I’ve met, the way the windy city inspired me to do solo work, how nice it is to be living closer to my family in Louisville).  Just then, walking toward me, is a man wearing a shirt with “Chicago” written across it.  I think I’m dreaming.  But it’s real.  Later, I will sit at my favorite donut spot in Seattle, wearing my Kentucky shirt, and hear them play a Sufjan Stevens song about Illinois.  Places and times will converge in one spot, in one moment—kind of like they do in a dream.

I dreamt of Kentucky last night.  It was a different time.  My sister was still alive.  We were all in the kitchen talking, joking, and laughing with each other .  I was so excited to see her.  I got to tell her that I love her, which felt so good.  But she didn’t really hear it—I realized I was dreaming before she could respond. It wasn’t real.  I guess I was stirred awake by the impossibility of it.

October 11, 2007.  I have lived in Chicago for four months. My parents are up from Louisville to visit me.  When we go to the lake, I experience a rush of de ja vu.  The last few years that I lived in Seattle, I had this recurring dream where I lived in an old hotel on the beach.  My mom, my dad, my sisters, and my nieces and nephew were all in the dream. It made me think that maybe one day I’d live by the ocean–maybe even own a B&B–and have lots of good family visits.  But here I was, with my mom and dad on a Lake Michigan beach and it all made sense.  I will get this de ja vu feeling again every single time a family member comes to Chicago to visit me, like when my sister comes up for a brief visit three years later.

May 19, 2012.  I am in Kentucky for my niece’s wedding.  As I’m walking outside, I see a key chain lying in the grass.  It’s one of those silver key chains with the outer circle and the spinning middle part.  The middle part says, “Illinois” and the outer circle says, “Chicago, the Windy City.”  I smile and remember the very first time I saw this type of key chain.  It was in 1998 when I first moved to Seattle from Louisville.  I was working in the gift shop of Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. I was in love with my new city and homesick for my old one.  In the stockroom I opened up a box of our new key chains.  The inside said, “Woodland Park Zoo” but the company had made a mistake and outside said, “Louisville, KY.”  I thought I was dreaming.  I took them around to everyone in the shop, asking them to read it to me.  It was real.

October 1, 2011.  I buy myself a purse in Chicago.  It looks sort of like an owl.  My sister loves owls.  It has always been her thing.  Deanna loves owls.  Laura loves turtles.  Amanda is the weird actor one that switches what she likes a lot.  If I was younger, I might question if it’s okay for me to like owls.  But I’m older and I like the purse.  So I buy it.  I wonder when I will see her next, because I know she’ll think it’s cute.  I see an older man trip on the escalator going into the store.  I try, without success, to keep him from falling.  But he tumbles and tumbles and tumbles on the unforgiving escalator.  It feels like a dream.  It makes me think of how fragile we all are. The man kept falling and the stairs kept moving and none of us were able to stop it from happening.  That night, I dream about being in a combination city made of Louisville and Chicago.  I’m trying to get a hold of my family and my family is trying get a hold of me.  But, the buttons on the phones aren’t working and I’m panicking and it seems so urgent for me to see them.  I wake up, heart racing.  I know it was a dream, that it wasn’t real.  But I switch on my phone and see all of the missed calls starting early in the morning.  When my mom tells me on the phone that my sister has died, I will cry and cry.  It will feel like a dream.  But it’s real.

Right now, I am in Chicago, traveling to other places and times while being in just one.  May we all be wakeful enough to appreciate the dreamy moments and restful enough so that we are not stirred by the impossible ones.





Twenty Years

7 03 2012

Twenty years ago, I had just started performing improv.  Admittedly, it was pretty bad improv.  Bar-prov.  Improv in bars, is not the most artistically satisfying experience for a performer.  Performing improv in bars is like doing a cooking-demo in a strip club.  Nobody gets what you’re doing.  Nobody cares what you’re doing.  You’re just a distraction from the main event.  (And they’d probably prefer it if you were naked).  Now, I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do some good, quality improv in bars, it’s just difficult.  Some current Chicago improvisers might disagree with me on this point, and that’s fine.  But I would mention to them that this was in Kentucky in the early to mid nineties.  No one even knew what an improv group was.

We were sometimes booked for gigs only to disappoint the establishment when we showed up without guitars and a keyboard.  When folks heard the words, “improv group” they thought they were either hiring a group of stand-ups or a jazz ensemble.  Twenty minutes into our show at The Kentucky State Fair, we still had audience members shouting out requests for songs we should play.  To this day, I sincerely believe that they weren’t heckling us.  They were just drunk, confused, and honestly thought we were a group of musicians.  Without instruments.  A really shitty band.  But why else would a group of people be on stage together in a beer tent at the fair?  The concept of improvised theatre was so far out of the realm of possibility for your average person back then.

Our steady gig was closing out amateur night at the local comedy club.  I guess you could say we were the headliners of amateurs.  Sort of a back-handed honorific.  The highest of the lows.

Let’s give a hand to all of the comics you’ve seen tonight!  We’re gonna do a little something different for ya.  We’re the ReActors, and we’re going to take suggestions from YOU, the audience, for our entire show!  We’re gonna start tonight off by telling you a joke.  And the joke goes something like this:  185 blanks walk into a bar.  The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve blanks.”  And the 185 blanks said, something funny.  You give us the blank and we’ll give you the something funny.

Now since we were performing in bars, typically we’d get the word, “dildo.”  I was seventeen.  I didn’t know what a dildo was.  I understood the concept.  But the first time I’d ever heard that word was on stage during an improv show.  It only took hearing a few punchlines to figure out what everyone was talking about.  By then, I could come up with something myself.

 185 dildos said, “That’s okay, we’ll go to the bar that’s a little to the left, no right, no left, yeah, right there.”

I learned a lot as a young improviser.  I learned about prostitution, gynecology, proctology, and sex.  I got kissed a lot in my late teens and early twenties (minus a few exceptions, they were mostly stage-kisses).  I referenced movies before I saw them, acted out sports I’d never played, and basically, portrayed experiences I’d never experienced.

No wonder my improv wasn’t that great.  Sure, part of the reason is that I was green at improv.  (Part of the reason is that I was performing most of my shows in bars.)  But part of the reason is that I was green at life.

Now, improv and I have been together a good, long while.  But I still learn a lot as an older improviser.  I learn about relationships, people, and myself.  More and more, I portray experiences I’ve actually experienced.

Twenty years ago, I had just started performing improv.  It has made up such a huge part of my life.  They say, “Good things come to those who wait.”  But with improv—or any theatre—or any art-form, for that matter—good things come to those who do.  Those who do poorly at first, but continue to do…through the dildo jokes, the beer tents, and the 185 whatevers…..until they are able to get to the relationships, the people, and themselves.

Twenty years ago, I gave improv myself and improv gave me the something funny, the something expressive, the something connected, and all the countless somethings about myself.





Coming up in April!

12 03 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey has four performances in April–two right here in Chicago, and two in Louisville, KY!  Please come check out the show in a city near you!

The Good, The Bad, and The Monkey
Singlehood, Dating, and the Search for Something Real

Amanda Rountree takes a hilarious–and at times, heartbreaking–look at the cycles of relationships and the myths that we tell ourselves about finding a soul mate…..using sock monkeys.

Written and Performed by Amanda Rountree
Directed by Jen Ellison

Chicago:
Fridays, April 1st & 8th at 7:30pm
The Second City’s DeMaat Theatre
1608 N. Wells Street

Louisville:
Friday & Saturday, April 29 & 30 at 8pm
The Bunbury Theatre
604 S. 3rd Street





Back from Louisville and heading to Philly!

21 08 2010

Taking The Good, the Bad, and the Monkey to my hometown was a success on all fronts!  I’m still so touched and overwhelmed by the number of people that came out to see my show.  There are about 140 seats in the lovely Bunbury Theatre and I was hoping to fill half of them.  So I was delightfully surprised when we were just a few seats shy of selling out last weekend!  I felt very good about the performance.

Since this is a one-woman show about being single (involving sock monkeys, no less), I recognize that some folks may not be exactly expecting great theatre.  Many, many folks came up to me after the show remarking with great surprise, “Wow. That was really good!  I mean, you’re really good!”* I am most flattered, however, when audience members tell me that they saw a lot of themselves in the show.  Not only is it a splendid co-validation (Cool, neither of us are crazy or alternately, Cool, we’re both crazy in the same way), it’s what I’m always after in my theatre–being awkwardly, vulnerably, unmistakably real, and connecting to that “real” in everyone else.  Isn’t that where true tragedy–and therefore comedy–reside?  Following the performance, the splendid folks at the Bunbury invited me back and I’ll definitely take them up on it.  Hooray!

Now, I’m getting my monkeys in a row for our three Philly shows next month!  I’ll perform the show multiple times in one weekend (and two will be on the same day)!  I’ve performed three or four ensemble shows in a row before–and even over thirty hours straight in an improv-a-thon (although admittedly, that particular situation ended with me on stage in a sombrero laughing and creating a dance to honor the bosom).  But performing my solo show multiple times in one weekend is something new to me.  It’s such an energetic and emotional journey to perform the show…I’ll have to make sure to take my vitamins when I’m in Philly.

*The monkeys insist that audience members who have high expectations will still enjoy the show.





Less than a week till Louisville!

8 08 2010

I’ve rehearsed with my monkeys, interviewed with Louisville’s weekly papers, and sent emails and updates galore to friends and family in Kentuckiana.   I’m super excited about my upcoming performance of my one-woman show in my hometown!

The performance is in the beautiful Bunbury Theatre in downtown Louisville this Saturday, August 14th at 8pm.  Click here to get your tickets!

The Good, The Bad, and The Monkey
Singlehood, Dating, and the Search for Something Real

Amanda Rountree takes a hilarious–and at times, heartbreaking–look at the cycles of relationships and the myths that we tell ourselves about finding a soul mate…..using sock monkeys. This is certainly not the expected  one-woman show about being single or dating.  Rountree warmly invites the audience to come along on her own journey, playing herself for the entire show.  It’s the sock monkeys who take on the other characters in her life–friends, boyfriends, dates–bits of her own psyche.  Because the voices of the other “actors” are easily provided inside the heads of audience members, the viewers are gently wrapped up in this sincere and engaging world in a very amusing way.

“Rountree is amusingly unafraid…”  –Chicago Tribune

“Amanda’s energetic and light performance style is the real anchor of the show…her sense of comedic timing is in full display.”  –An Angry White Guy in Chicago

“Amanda Rountree is radiantly endearing…”  –Chicago Theatre Blog