Celebrating two decades of The Hamazons

The Hamazons, Warrior Princesses of Improv, are preparing for “The 20th Anniversary Show” at Ashland’s Mountain Avenue Theatre, Saturday, Sept. 28th. Hamazons: , Kyndra Laughery,Eve Smyth, and Cil Stengel will be joined by Hamazon alumni for an evening of improvisation and glamour. I met with Stengel, Smyth and Laughery to discuss their art of improvisation.

EH: How do you prepare for improv?

KL: It’s like a sport: you practice your skills; you run drills; you build your improv muscles.

EH: What are ‘improv muscles?’

ES: Improv muscles might be: staying present; not planning ahead; establishing character relationships, your environment, and an objective. There are certain foundational elements that help improv scenes, whether they are narrative driven or game driven. As long as you have these foundational elements: knowing who the characters are, and what their relationship is, those scenes can take off. You have to develop those skills.

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Comedy brings joy, therapy

Writers Cynthia Rogan, Diane Nichols, and Mark Saunders are producing the Oregon Jest Fest, a 10-minute play festival, to be presented at Ashland’s Belleview Grange opening in late January 2020. The deadline for entries is Aug. 31, 2019. One afternoon, we laughed a lot and chatted about writing and comedy.

EH: What has writing brought to your life?

DN: I can’t afford therapy, so I sit down by myself, analyzing my strange situations. Creatures come in and talk, and characters come and have things to say. I find myself enjoying the process of bringing that story to life, then I feel better.

CR: I’ve always tried to figure out why people do what they do. If you understand why somebody does something to you, it makes it somehow easier to take or to fix. I write in self-defense maybe? (to DN) You don’t even type with all your fingers.

DN: I type with one finger. This finger has typed a Master’s thesis.

MS: It’s a magic finger.

DN: It thinks so.

MS: It’s the educated finger.

DN: You have to say, it’s the pointer finger. I don’t want to write with the middle finger, it comes out all wrong.

MS: We’re just storytellers. That’s how we give ourselves therapy, and also to understand the world around us. For me, it’s always about the humor. It’s definitely hard work sometimes. Peter De Vries said, “I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” It’s just to be able to sit down and create these characters out of nothing, and then they come alive. I think writing is fun.

DN: It’s the most fun.

CR: It’s rewarding, because there is a blank sheet of paper, and …

MS: You create a world.

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