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Room to improv: Mop & Bucket Company to inaugurate new theater

Room to improv: Mop & Bucket Company to inaugurate new theater

When Michael Burns and Kat Koppet told their friends they were moving to Schenectady and buying a ho
Room to improv: Mop & Bucket Company to inaugurate new theater
An exterior view of Mop & Bucket Company's new improv theater space on North Jay Street in Schenectady. (Jeffrey Haff/Gazette copy editor)

When Michael Burns and Kat Koppet told their friends they were moving to Schenectady and buying a house seven years ago, nobody said, “great idea.”

These days, however, it seems like a pretty good move, and this Saturday at 8 p.m., Burns and Koppet will be welcoming all their friends and fans to another new home, also in Schenectady, when the Mop and Bucket Company performs for the first time at its own theater space at 10 North Jay Street.

Mop & Bucket Company

WHERE: Mopco Improv Theatre, 10 North Jay Street, Schenectady

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

HOW MUCH: $15-$6

MORE INFO: www.mopco.org

“It was a complete gut downstairs and a partial gut upstairs,” said Burns, whose improvisational group had been performing at Proctors for nearly 10 years, and had also produced shows at the Night Sky Cafe on Union Street in Schenectady and Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany.

“Now we have a great little black-box theater downstairs, with a maximum of about 75 seats, and our offices upstairs along with additional classrooms. We performed at quite a few places in the area and it’s great to have our own space.”

The Mop & Bucket Company’s new home, called the Mopco Improv Theatre, is just off of Union Street in what is called Schenectady’s “Little Italy” neighborhood. Originally a firehouse, the building was also a notorious night spot for a time before it was closed in 1997 for promoting prostitution. Burns said his group plans to use the theater at least three nights a week and may rent out the space on other nights.

“We’re going to continue to build the improve scene in the Capital Region, and we’re going to make sure our needs are covered,” he said. “But musicians are a possibility, and I have had some people show interest in putting on concerts. We’re lucky because the sound is really great.”

Along with performances in the evening, the building will host day-time classes.

“We offer a fair number of classes, and our students will be able to perform at some point and have that experience of performing live,” said Burns. “We’re also going to be offering corporate training so we’re going to have a lot going on in our building.”

Koppet, who joined Burns’ troupe soon after it was formed in the early 1990s, remembered that some of her friends weren’t convinced that providing a permanent location for Mop & Bucket was going to work.

“Oh my goodness, this is really like a dream,” said Koppet, who has performed on stage in New York City and San Francisco, and also was in an Atlantic City production of “Fiddler on the Roof” with Theodore Bikel.

“It’s been a little bit crazy but it is very exciting. Some people looked at us sideways when we first moved to Schenectady. But while we were at Proctors we realized that something was happening here, so we double-downed on our commitment to this community and bought this theater. It’s been magical to see all of this come together.”

Saturday’s opening night entertainment will be Theatresports, a form of improvisational theater in which two teams compete to create scenes based on audience suggestions. Next weekend, the Mop and Bucket Company will be offering live entertainment Thursday (Improv Jam), Friday (Fringe Friday) and Saturday (Theatresports).

“Thursday nights is going to be a cheap ticket and a great way to build our community,” said Burns. “Fringe Friday will have other groups and acts come in along with a few of us here, and on Saturday night it will be the Mop and Bucket Company. We have about a dozen of us now, and we’ve been getting better and better. Having our own permanent home will help us continue to improve.”

Mop & Bucket’s November lineup of classes

Improv 101: Introduction to improv is a one-night class that will allow you to harness your inner creative superpowers. Meets Wednesday, Nov. 2, from 7-9:30 p.m. Cost is $25.

Level 200: Narrative fundamentals focuses on what makes a good story. Meets Nov. 2, 9, 16 and 30 from 7-9:30 p.m. Cost is $100.

Improv 102: This introduction to improv is a series of classes that will guide students through the basics of improvisational theater. Meets Nov. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 7-9:30 p.m. Cost is $75.

Level 132: Introduction to musical improvisation is a series of classes that will help music become a powerful weapon in your improv toolbox. Meets Nov. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 7-9:30 p.m. Cost is $100.

Improv for Everyone: Learn how to take the skills improvisers use on stage to become a better performer in your daily life. Meets Nov. 11 from 6:30-9 p.m. Cost is $25.

Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or bbuell@dailygazette.com.

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