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 Ocean State Black & Funny Improv Festival 

Show Schedule              Tickets              Workshops

The Ocean State Black & Funny Improv Festival is back

August 31 - September 3!

The Ocean State Black & Funny Improv Festival is back for its third year, featuring amazing Black improvisers and troupes from across the country! The festival features nightly headliner performances, guest troupes, mixer shows, and workshops!

Our goal is to create an improv world where all are welcome to celebrate ourselves, learn from our differences, and build each other up while sharing in a space that is respectful and generous to all.

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The 2023 Festival features:

3Peat, Los Angeles, CA

Wakanda vs Everybody, Wakanda 

The Unpronounceables, Minneapolis, MN 

Poems for Each Other, Minneapolis, MN

Branded Silk, NYC

Rochelle McConico (stand-up), Austin, TX 

Festival Passes and Tickets

Want to see shows at the festival? We've got your options covered!

  • All-Access Festival Pass: $120 You get tickets to every performance and an Ocean State Black and Funny Improv Festival t-shirt! If you sign up for 3 or more workshops, you get an All-Access Festival Pass for free!

  • Day Pass: $30 You can get a Day Pass to see both of the shows on a specific day of the festival. 

  • Individual Show Tickets: You can of course get tickets to each show individually if you want! Choose your own price based on our new pricing system for all of our performances. We want everyone to be able to enjoy these incredible performances!
    • ​Standard ticket price for OSBAFIF shows is $20.
    • $30 tickets are available to help support the Jack Albanese Scholarship Fund.

    • $40 tickets are available for anyone who can afford a little extra to support this and future festivals.

    • $10 tickets are available for anyone 25 & under and anyone who needs them.

  • Performers get special deals on all passes!

Tickets

Festival Schedule

Schedule

Check out this year's fantastic line-up! Click on each troupe to learn more about them.

 Thursday 

7 pm

Panel Discussion, Tezz's Jam: One Man Band (CA), The Unpronounceables (MN)

 

9 pm 

All Star Jam! Mixer Show

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 Friday 

7 pm

Poems for Each Other (MN),

Rochelle McConico (stand-up) (TX), Branded Silk (NYC),

The Unpronounceables (MN), 3Peat (CA)

 

 9:30 pm 

Micetro! Mixer Show 

 Saturday 

7 pm

OSBAFIF 2023 Ensemble Performance,

Wakanda vs Everybody (Wakanda),

3Peat (CA)

 

9 pm 

Duos Mixer Show

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 Sunday 

2 pm

Branded Silk (NYC), Wakanda vs Everybody (Wakanda)

Workshops

Workshops

Workshops are open to everyone and anyone! Below, you'll find a listing of all the workshops. (Scroll down to find out more about the workshops or click the links to see descriptions!)

If you take 3 workshops, you get a free All-Access Festival Pass!

Three-hour workshops are $40 and two-hour workshops are $30.

We want everyone to be able to take the workshops, so reach out to Maggie Cady at cady@thecontemporarytheater.com for financial assistance if needed!

 Friday 

10 am - 1 pm:

Playback Theater with Damilola Apotieri-Abdulai

2 pm - 5 pm:

W(Holy) Trinity: A Divine Self Discovery with Tezz Yancey

 Saturday 

10 am - 12 pm:

Make a Move with Nnamdi Ngwe

10 am - 1 pm:

Stand Up Comedy Basics with Rochelle McConico

2 pm - 4 pm:

Making Characters Real with Patrick Rowland

2 pm - 5 pm:

Felt Tips with John Gebretatose

 Sunday 

10 am - 1 pm:

Centering Community in Improv: A Discourse with Alsa Bruno

Say It With Your Chest with Stephanie Rae

Workshop Descriptions

 Friday 9/1 

Playback Theater with Damilola Apotieri-Abdulai

Fri, Sept 1, 10 am - 1 pm

Playback Theater is a form of improvisational theatre based on stories told by audience members. Founded by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas in the USA, Playback Theater is being practiced by thousands in over 80 countries. We will take a real life story and turn it into theater on the spot using song, metaphor, comedy and many more creative tools. This is a great workshop for improvisers, actors, therapists and anyone who loves when stories come out to play.

During the 3 hour workshop, Damilola will introduce you to Playback Theater and its short forms and terms. Each participant will take turns to share their stories, listen, play and enact people’s stories. Playback brings us together, as we are all our stories. And what can be better than to see your story come to life, make you laugh and move you all over again.

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More about Damilola...

He is Nigeria’s first Applied Drama practitioner and Playback Theatre practitioner and a member of the International Playback Theatre Network (USA), Drama for Life Africa Network, Applied Improvisation Network (USA) and an alumnus of the Centre for Playback Theatre (USA) where he trained in Playback Theatre core course and conducting. Damilola has 20 years’ experience in Media/Theatre for Social Change and is dedicated to exploring the transforming power of arts. Damilola brings his effusive energy, deep compassion, creativity, and insight to his trainings and personal coaching.

W(Holy) Trinity: A Divine Self Discovery with Tezz Yancey

Fri, Sept 1, 2 pm - 5 pm

In this 3 hour workshop we deep dive into three primary areas that contribute to you becoming a more fully realized, well rounded and fleshed out improviser by discovering and playing from your WHOLE SELF! KNOW THINE (WHOLE) SELF!

MIND: We will pick our own and each others brains and focus on imagination,(where everything materialized, and things yet to be materialized, begins) playing from the top of our intelligence (and what that really means) and the difference between smart play and clever/witty/trying to be funny play. In the spirit of Viola Spolin we will fully tap into the reckless abandon of that untainted, child-like imagination we ALL are born with and still resides within us! 

BODY: We will zero in on detailed specificity of object work and the power of physicality. Our relationship to and interactions with people, places, objects, animals, and events affect us on both an emotional and PHYSICAL level! We will explore deliberate, intentional physicality and how this can be used to build interesting and intriguing characters and relationships.

SPIRIT: We get grounded and real! Emotions, emotions, emotions! We’ll explore emotional layers and textures as we lead from our hearts and souls! Let’s affect our scene partners and choose to be affected by them…then watch the magic unfold!

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More about Tezz...

Originally from Boston, MA, Tezz now resides in Los Angles where he works as a vocalist, dancer, actor, musician, director, producer, and writer. Tezz studied musical theater and music at The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music and has a multitude of Broadway, stage, and screen credits. You'll find him performing improv in LA or around the country with the Black Improv Alliance. 

 Saturday 9/2 

Make a Move with Nnamdi Ngwe

Sat, Sept 2, 10 am - 12 pm

Hesitancy from you or your ensemble kills momentum or an entire piece. But you can overcome this! We’ll explore how you as an individual can make moves that support others and empower you to make positive moves others would love to support.

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More about Nnamdi...

Nnamdi Ngwe is an actor, model, Improvisor, teacher, and writer. He studied and teaches at iO Theater and The Second City. Nnamdi was recently awarded teacher of the year at iO Theater. With is twin brother and writing partner, Amechi, Nnamdi wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed show Julius which earned him a trip to the New York Television Festival and a nomination for Best Screenplay at the Best Of The Midwest Film Awards among others. Along with the rest of the cast of 3Peat, Nnamdi co-wrote and starred in The Blackening on Comedy Central. He can be seen as a cast member in You’ve Been Had Celebrity Edition and can also be seen in sketches for The Ringer.

Stand Up Comedy Basics with Rochelle McConico

Sat, Sept 2, 10 am - 1 pm

Fundamentally standup comedy is a conversation. It is a connection between you and the audience. In this course, I'll help you plumb your life and the world around you for humor and connect the fundamentals of standup with your unique voice and point of view. By the end of the course, you'll understand how to use standup comedy to have authentic conversations AND be funny!

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More about Rochelle...

Rochelle McConico is the founder and CEO of MoonCricket Productions a live entertainment company specializing in interactive, multisensory comedic events. She is a visionary, writer, producer, and performer. In June 2020, Rochelle launched the Amuse-Bouche Comedy Festival to showcase the many great improvisers, comedy podcasters and stand-ups in New Orleans and performed as all three. In 2022, she followed up by co-founding, programming, performing and co-headlining the Lysistrata Comedy Festival, an all femme comedy festival, in New Orleans.

Additionally, Rochelle performs standup, improv, and sketch around the country both individually and with the groups: Black Improv Alliance’s Wakanda Vs. Everybody, Black As Phuck, Switchblade, Edge Control, and No Lye Comedy.

Making Characters Real with Patrick Rowland

Sat, Sept 2, 2 - 4 pm

Learn how to quickly discover, hold onto, and play realistic characters. Through different fun engaging exercises you will expand your character base and find new methods in creating a believable sustainable character.

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More about Patrick...

Patrick is a writer, comedian, and actor from Chicago, now residing in Los Angeles. He’s studied and taught at The Second City and iO Theater. His solo character work was featured in Alone, Chicago’s Best Solo Comedy at The TBS Just For Laughs Festival in 2013. Austin Comedy Short Film Festival nominated Patrick as Best Supporting Actor for his work in Mr. Mainframe. He is the creator of The Patrick Rowland Sketch Show, a web series he writes produces, directs, and films himself on an iPhone. He is a founding member of 3Peat, a critically acclaimed, award-winning sketch/improv troupe, who has several sketches with Comedy Central's Digital platform, their most successful, The Blackening, garnered over 15 million views, and is currently being made into a feature. Patrick hosted a late-night talk show as former President Barack Obama called Barack All Night. Most recently, he participated in a virtual roundtable for Sony Pictures, which was led by Girls Trip producer and writer Tracy Oliver. Patrick currently writes for The Amber Ruffin Show. 

Felt Tips with John Gebretatose

Sat, Sept 2, 2 - 5 pm

This improv workshop focuses on emotions as a focal tool to help free your brain from stressing out over what to do or say. We will use emotions as a compass to start scenes and also as a way to create momentum and energy to move your scenes along with direction. Emotions are a universal language, use them to add truthfulness, clarity, power, and depth.

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More about John...

John has been performing stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy in Minnesota's Twin Cities for over 10 years. He is an instructor and Director of Diversity & Inclusion at HUGE Improv Theater in Minneapolis and has taught improv workshops in theaters, hospitals, corporations, K-12 schools, and colleges. He has also led and facilitated diversity and inclusion programming for improv theaters all over the world through his mission to uplift all voices. John trained and worked at the Brave New Workshop and is a founding member of Blackout Improv, Late Nights Minneapolis (a sketch comedy show), and co-founder of the Black and Funny Improv Festival. He travels the world performing, teaching, and directing improv. 

 Sunday 9/3 

Centering Community in Improv: A Discourse

with Alsa Bruno

Sun, Sept 3, 10 am - 1 pm

Theatre was built to reflect community. Our communities want to see us and we want to see our community. And yet, our improv audiences are not often reflective of our community. I have been doing community-based improv workshops and performances for about 10 years and will facilitate a group discussion about how we as producers/artists/investors/community members can engage our community in improv, including what we find is working and what we find needs to change quick.

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More about Alsa...

Alsa prides himself on using comedy to create space for honest dialogue. An avid comedian with a sensitive outlook, Alsa is a founding member of Blackout Improv, the Creative Counsel, and co-founder of the Black and Funny Improv Festival. He is a behavioral coach with international drama-based consultancy Bi-Jingo, a teaching artist with Upstream Arts, one half of the improv troupe The Unpronounceables as well as the Serendipity Comedy Duo, a comedic consultant with Funworks, an enthusiastic member of the Black Improv Alliance, & somebody’s favorite uncle. Alsa loves storytelling and creating programs, so you can often find him at HUGE Improv Theater in Minneapolis, MN.

Say it with Your Chest: Improvised Songs for HUGE Emotions with Stephanie Rae

Sun, Sept 3, 10 am - 1 pm

Your character has feelings - HUGE feelings. But sometimes, words just aren’t enough. Enter...music! We'll explore point of view, emotion, and desire to figure out what your character wants and why. And then, when we hit that pivotal moment of climactic emotion, you’re gonna break into song! Attendees will learn structures for improvised songs - including verse/chorus, tagline, and freeform - and transition from scenes into musical solos. We’ll also work on silent support and backline choreography. See you on the stage!

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More about Stephanie...

Stephanie has been teaching traditional and musical improv for seven years. She’s directed a Boyz II Men themed show for UCB's Del Close Marathon, guest played with everyone from ComedySportz to the Groundlings, and taught classes and workshops for improvisers from Louisiana to Liverpool. These days, she directs the Black Improv Alliance (performing with International Players Club, Fake Eggs, & Wakanda vs. Everybody), raps about gratitude as an ambassador for Freestyle Love Supreme Academy, and makes scenes on stages across the US & all over Obama’s internet. 

OSBAFIF 2023 Performers

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3Peat
3Peat is a critically acclaimed and award-winning Improv/Sketch/Stand Up Group. They are particularly known for their Comedy Central video sketches including "The Blackening", which was turned into a feature film in 2022.

The members met while performing and teaching at The Second City and iO Theater in Chicago. Tired of each being the only minority in their shows, the group came together to create their own brand of comedy that fits their high energy and experiences. The team boasts members that write and perform in television, film, and on stage across the world.

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Branded Silk
Branded Silk is an improv trio forged from the fires of friendship and adversity. All black and all about that sauce. Branded Silk is composed of Onyi Okoli, Jeffrey Kitt, and Aaron LaRoche. Collectively, the trio have been performing improv for over two decades from the Upright Citizen's Brigade, to the Magnet, to the People's Improv Theater, to colleges across the east coast, the Brooklyn Comedy Collective,  and now here in Rhode Island. Using the slacker improv form, the trio explores and creates worlds lampooning the realities and absurdities of being black in the world and when it's not that, it's just plain ole' dumb funny improv stuff. They have an instagram @brandedsilk and are excited to get wild with y'all at the Ocean State Black and Funny Festival. Come thru!

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Wakanda vs Everybody
Representing a variety of perspectives from across the African diaspora, Wakanda vs. Everybody (WvE) is the Black Improv Alliance’s founding house team. In All Black Everything, WvE combines hilarious short-form games with their original musical longform, The Tyrone. Audiences will laugh while they learn and peek behind the curtain into worlds they never imagined. This show is fast-paced, high-energy, and unapologetically Black.

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The Unpronounceables
The Unpronounceables are a dope duo of can-do friends with names people can not pronounce. We have a commitment to improving the world through improv and connecting communities through laughter. Case in point -- our first meeting led to the creation of a festival (John and Alsa founded Black and Funny) We love to enjoy each other and do the best with what we have. The Unpronounceables: breaking the rules of pronunciation and audience engagement since 1865.

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Tezz's Jam: One Man Band
Tezz does it all! Originally from Boston, MA, Tezz now resides in Los Angles where he works as a vocalist, dancer, actor, musician, director, producer, and writer. Tezz studied musical theater and music at The Boston Conservatory and Berklee College of Music and has a multitude of Broadway, stage, and screen credits. You'll find him performing improv in LA or around the country with the Black Improv Alliance. 

Tezz

Rochelle McConico

Rochelle McConico is the founder and CEO of MoonCricket Productions a live entertainment company specializing in interactive, multisensory comedic events. She is a visionary, writer, producer, and performer. In June 2020, Rochelle launched the Amuse-Bouche Comedy Festival to showcase the many great improvisers, comedy podcasters and stand-ups in New Orleans and performed as all three. In 2022, she followed up by co-founding, programming, performing and co-headlining the Lysistrata Comedy Festival, an all-femme comedy festival, in New Orleans.

Additionally, Rochelle performs standup, improv, and sketch around the country both individually and with the groups: Black Improv Alliance’s Wakanda Vs. Everybody, Black As Phuck, Switchblade, Edge Control, and No Lye Comedy. With No Lye Comedy, Rochelle co-produced and co-wrote the sketch and variety show Comedy.Periodt, performed sketch in the Dallas Comedy Festival and the Los Angeles Diversity in Comedy Showcase (LADC), and performed improv in the inaugural 2019 New Orleans Improv Festival and 2021 Baton Rouge Improv Festival. Rochelle has also written and performed for Morphed, a monthly stand-up and sketch show in New Orleans, and performed stand up in the Black Girl Giggles Festival.
 

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Poems for Each Other
Theo Langason carves out space and time for connection, nostalgia and improvised songs based on beautiful memories provided by the audience.

Poems
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