The NPR couple is the creation of the improv duo, machine A. As winners of NPR's Inaugural Morning Edition Spark Competition, machine A's NPR Couple promotional campaign won the local New Orleans affiliate WWNO one free year of NPR's Morning Edition!
NPR Couple Week One, HERE.
NPR Couple Week Two, HERE.
machine A is what happens when acting meets improv, when time meets fast forward, when characters meet given circumstances. machine A is what happens when the train starts to wobble off the rails, when a couple becomes two singles, when your one great moment happens without you realizing it. machine A is what happens when routine meets road-block, time meets cliff edge, baby meets grandpa-baby, crush meets expectation, end meets beginning. machine A is what happens. From New Orleans improvisers and actors Cecile Monteyne and Chris Kaminstein comes a form that happens.
Creating their name from playing with the meaning and sound of the phrase deus ex machina, the duo reveal their impulsiveness and knowledge of theatre. Members Chris Kaminstein and Cecile Monteyne have been separately gracing New Orleans stages for several years, yet only met and immediately clicked in early 2012 during improv classes at The New Movement (TNM). While machine A gives improvisation in its purest form -- no scripts, no plans, just impulse and response -- the company shows a studied background in more traditional theatre. With the characters they bring to life, Kaminstein says they wish to "explore the emotional complexity. . . the pathos, the absurdity" of highly constructed plays. While an entire performance may be born from a simple shoulder shrug instead of predetermined words, Kaminstein explains, "you have to do something before you know what you're doing… that's an offer, just like a line of text is an offer."
But what does an improv performance look like if always spontaneous? Kaminstein and Monteyne allow just enough structure to "follow two characters through humor and tragedy over the course of a 40-minute, fully improvised performance." A recent incarnation of the show started blank on stage, then quickly became two ex-strippers in a retirement home, and continued with improvised vignettes from throughout their lives. Insanity, perhaps; hilarity, indeed.
Another notable trait of their performance is a bare-minimum approach to plot. A phrase taken from their training, good improv theatre allows the audience to "knit together the show" as opposed to having actors spoon-feeding them plot. This technique rewards both the audience for their focus and the performers as it trains their brains for "more effective writing."
- NOLA Defender