Jaci Pulice is director of The October Issue, devised by The October Issue ensemble. The improv debuts September 17, 2015 at Washington Improv Theater. She has trained at Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre and Washington Improv Theater. She currently performs with the WIT ensemble iMusical. She can frequently be found perusing the pages of the latest Marie Claire (it was doing this pastime that inspired her to create this show). Jaci promises to direct a show that is honest, refreshing and more exciting than an ad that includes a sample of skin cream. witdc.org, and facebook.com/washingtonimprovtheater [email protected]
Why are you an improviser?
Simply put, I love making people laugh. It’s an incredible thrill to be able to make a room resound in laughter based on your work. But improv is much different than other comedic art forms like stand-up, sketch, or scripted theater. Improv ensembles create strong inter-personal bonds and commit to the same artistic vision. Being able to work collaboratively over the long-term with a like-minded group of talented improvisers is incredibly rewarding. My teammates continue to inspire me.
As an improviser, I’ve never performed the same show twice. Each performance is a once-in-a-lifetime event and only the people in the room will be able to share how special that is. I absolutely love that we’re able to connect with the audience in that way and deliver a special experience to them.
Audience members sometimes have a feeling of apprehension before going to an improv show because they’re afraid for the performers. And I’m always thrilled to show them that we know what we’re doing and there’s no need to be scared.
What type of improv show most excites you?
I love seeing honesty in comedy. Comedy doesn’t have to be slapstick and dick jokes. Although there’s a place for everything. The comedy you remember is the stuff that rings true and stuff you can identify with. That’s something we’ve really tried to do in The October Issue – make our shows relatable. This is not a parody of a women’s magazine; we’re borrowing the format to share our ensemble’s authentic voices.
WOMEN’S VOICES THEATER FESTIVAL
THE OCTOBER ISSUE
September 24 – October 4, 2015
201 East Capitol Street SE
Washington DC 20003
Details and Tickets
How did you choose this play to debut at the Festival?
WIT’s artistic director Mark Chalfant approached me in November of 2013 and asked me if I was interested in conceptualizing and directing our show. Immediate interest was sparked, in NYC I was on an all girl troupe and I’ve always wanted to direct a show. Upon learning more about the festival and it’s mission, I was fully on board.
From the start, we knew we would work with an all female cast and that the goal would be to highlight women’s voices through long form improv. How we would do this was a lingering question. Mark and I met right before the holidays (2013) and my mission was to have a concept in place by the New Year.
I was sitting at my parent’s house on Long Island around Christmas when my Father came up to me and said I needed to clean up some of my stuff in their basement. Particularly my plastic storage totes of magazines that I had been hoarding since Middle School. He muttered something about paper bugs and sent me on my way. I have loved magazines my whole life- and the time capsule of Teen, YM, Twist, Seventeen, Glamour’s and Cosmo’s was there to prove it. As I cleaned out that bin (a Destiny’s Child Seventeen being the lone and ironic Survivor) I started to connect the dots. In college, I interned at Washington Woman magazine. After college I was a reader ambassador for Glamour in NYC.
Since my early teens, I had consumed women’s voices through this medium and now it was time to bring that feeling of connection to the art form that I hold in such high regard. What excited me the most was knowledge that many of my peers didn’t feel connected to magazines. These women felt most magazines marginalize could-be readers by limiting their scope or being too broad in reach and creating a false “every woman” voice. When I conceptualized the show I had two choices: parody these magazines OR be the many voices.
Through the rehearsal process we were often tempted to be false and hyperbolize the modern magazine. It would have been the easier path. But we decided to take on a greater challenge: create an in the moment magazine that honors the spirit and intention of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. I truly believe we have done this.
Which female improvisers have influenced you and how?
My all time favorite is Amy Poehler, who founded the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York. She is hilarious and smart. Plus, Amy performances with the perfect blend of confidence and no B.S. while still being graceful and genuine. She has taught me to be funny, patient, and playful in a field that is still dominated by men.
What’s missing from theatre today?
More improv. Seriously.
It’s an incredible art form and I think that anyone and everyone should take a class, whether you’re an actor, director, or work behind the scenes. Improv will help you deal with the unexpected when it inevitably happens.
What are you working on now?
In addition to The October Issue, I’m a member two ensembles at Washington Improv Theater: Commonwealth and iMusical.
Commonwealth recently completed an amazing run with an original format based on the podcast This American Life. We created an improvised podcast called That American Life (clever, I know!) and created shows inspired by the kinds of shows Ira Glass produces.
iMusical is WIT’s musical improv ensemble. I’ve been on the troupe for a couple of years but it has been in existence for more than a decade. We recently did a show at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for their Page to Stage Festival. It was the biggest thrill! As improvisers, we don’t often get to play for audiences that big.
Answer this: “If I weren’t an improviser, I would be … ”
Still be making people laugh.
Anything you would like to add?
I’m so proud of the The October Issue. But at the end of the day, it’s my incredible cast that will be creating the show on the spot. I just can’t stop gushing about how much I love these girls. Some of them have been improvising for years and years while others are bright new voices. They amazed me week after week during our rehearsals and I can’t wait to finally share their voices with the Women’s Voices Theater Festival.
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Rebecca Wright says
Great interview! I had the pleasure of performing alongside Jaci many years ago when she first started improv performances at American University. Since then, she has undergone training, performed in multiple cities and really honed her craft. I recently saw her perform with her troupe Commonwealth and I was doubled over laughing. I am sure The October Issue will be a terrific show. Bravo!