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Black Lives Matter

Updated July 26, 2020

The Board and Director team met again this week and agreed that past diversity, equity and inclusion efforts have had a primary focus of diversity, a secondary focus on equity, and no clear focus on inclusion. This has resulted in feelings of tokenism, a perceived prioritization of statistics over people, gatekeeping, and overall lack of true inclusion. In order to refocus our efforts, we have decided to create an Inclusion Task Force comprised of nine people representing a diverse cross section of our community. The task force will meet weekly for six weeks in order to complete the following objectives:

  1. Examine past structure and determine the positive and negative effects of each process, policy or initiative. 
  2. Determine what processes and initiatives should continue or discontinue. 
  3. Identify additional processes, policies, and/or initiatives that are needed to create a more inclusive culture at Stomping Ground. 
  4. Identify what leadership role(s) is needed and what support role(s) are needed to drive these plans.

This is a volunteer position. If you would like to submit to join the Inclusion Task Force, please complete the Interest Form by August 9, 2020. Shanti Shahani de Venegas, one of our board members, has been designated to review all responses and make final selections for the task force by August 15. An hour-long kick-off meeting will be conducted the following week by Director of Development, Jocelyn Tiner, and the group will complete their work by October 10.

Updated July 21, 2020

An update from the Director of Development, Jocelyn Tiner

An update from the Director of Development Jocelyn Tiner.

Posted by Stomping Ground Comedy on Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Updated July 17, 2020

Stomping Ground’s Training Center has joined the 100 Black Improvisers initiative lead by Black Improv Alliance! If you’re looking to get into improv here is the link to the student interest form: https://rb.gy/rsrbeg

Learn more about Black Improv Alliance and the incredible work they’re doing to spread equity, inclusion, and joy.

Updated July 10, 2020

A video update from the Artistic Director, Lindsay Goldapp.

Updated July 3, 2020

We are grateful for the work of Black Improv Alliance and we encourage all improv institutions to follow their foundational, purposeful plans to change improv, including their 100 Black Improvisers initiative. We are thrilled to collaborate with this important organization!

Read more about the 100 Black Improvisers initiative here; if you’re a student or improv institution looking to get involved there are directions within!

Updated June 14, 2020

In improv, we believe in the concept of “got your back,” and at Stomping Ground, we explore that concept further through our therapeutic Improv for Life program. But our friends at Foundation45 said it well: “We also understand that due to generational trauma and the fall-out from years upon years of overt systemic racism and microaggressions, that Black and People of Color communities have different experiences than white people when it comes to mental health.”

We would like to share with our community several Black-owned or -founded businesses that provide mental health support to address these unique needs. Some are free or have low cost options available.

The self-care images below are from @thenatattack97 on Twitter.

Updated June 10, 2020

Last week we committed to listening, learning, and acting in order to be true allies fighting for and alongside the Black community. Transparency is important, so we will be sharing our progress with you as we learn and grow together.

Listening

After our community dialogue and Town Hall on May 31, our management team met with our Diversity Committee Co-Chairs as well as other Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) organizations that we may be able to partner with in the future. We recognize that there are several areas of opportunity for growth including: racial diversity across the organization and including within leadership, and listening to marginalized voices within our organization when strategizing and planning for the future. We will continue to gather information and feedback from our community. We want to hear from you. If you would like to see specific changes in our organization, please send your ideas to diversity-feedback@stompinggroundcomedy.org.

Learning

Our Diversity Committee Co-Chairs have been sending the management team numerous resources, reading, and videos to educate us further. We are taking time to review all of these materials, and will work with the Diversity Committee to create staff and board training best fit for the needs of our organization. Some of what we have learned in recent weeks is we have all employed biases and used microaggressions that are so engrained in us that we do not recognize them for what they are in the moment. We are also recognizing that there is no finish line when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. There is no point at which the work will be done. So we cannot become complacent. We must make Learning a constant process for Stomping Ground.

Acting

As a young organization, we have only recently had the capacity to add personnel with a dedicated focus on diversity. We have come to recognize that diversity and inclusion should not be the sole focus, and will now broaden that scope so that we can adopt explicitly anti-racist policies and practices. Swift actions are being considered as we assess the needs of the organization, and we would like to share publicly the actions we have taken over the last three years in an effort to embrace diversity as one of our core values.

When we hired two Director positions last year, we recognized our own potential for implicit bias and utilized an outside HR Recruiter to evaluate applications for the first position, and she taught us how to evaluate them for the second position. We also posted the positions for outside hire through Indeed in order to broaden our scope of potential candidates outside of our existing circle in the comedy community. Candidates that progressed to second interviews were diverse in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and ability. Interviews were standardized, with specific criteria used to evaluate each candidate in order to guide our decision making.

A diversity-focused role was a part of our initial business plan when we opened. But we quickly realized that we didn’t have additional personnel with enough capacity to plan strategically and maximize the positive effects of that role. As we grew, those conditions changed, and last year we created a Diversity Manager role, overseeing several Diversity Advocates, in an effort to open up dialogue around inequities and to further diversify our stage.

In our three years of operations, we have nearly doubled our percentage of diverse personnel in the areas of race and ethnicity, gender, and LGBTQIA+ within our staff and contract instructors by fostering an inclusive environment where our community members are encouraged to be authentically themselves.

In February of this year, our Director of Development began a focused effort on board development and recruitment. And in April, our board approved a 2-year strategic plan that included the following new committees and initiatives:

  1. Diversity Committee: Continue focus and grow efforts to diversify our staff, classes, and stage. Work with Staff Development to provide necessary education to SG staff and instructors.
  2. Community Impact Committee: Grow efforts to partner with neighboring community organizations to provide therapeutic benefits of Improv through Improv for Life, and to further connect our community through comedy.
  3. Staff Development Committee: Seek out relevant trainings for professional development, partner with neighboring educational institutions to form a more robust internship program, and create a mentorship program with leadership (both Board and Staff Directors) to provide opportunities for those interested in growing professionally within the organization. Design a formal board recruitment process for succession planning.

In May, new board members for the next two fiscal years were approved. Broadening our board recruitment efforts resulted in adding more female-identifying and people of color to our board. We have now doubled the proportion of non-white board members, and increased our female-identifying board members by 50%. We’ve also identified a clear opportunity for representation from the LGBTQIA+ community on our board.

Original Post: June 2, 2020

To our our DFW community and beyond:

The Stomping Ground Team is feeling the weight of what is going on in our community and our world. But we know this weight pales in comparison to the pain and grief that the Black community feels in this moment. As we navigate the increasing unrest in the world we must not remain silent and we must believe and say: Black Lives Matter.

But thoughts and words without actions are empty. Lifting up marginalized voices has always been a part of our mission. But we want to ensure that now more than ever we are putting in the work to be true allies fighting for and alongside the Black community. And that takes commitment and purpose.

The Stomping Ground Team is committed to:

Learning. We will educate ourselves and our community on the experience of the Black community. We will educate ourselves on our own explicit and implicit biases and how they can be challenged. We will facilitate conversations, provide training and resources to our staff, and do everything in our power to create brave space within our classrooms, our stage, and beyond. We will initiate tough conversations about race and be a model for cultural sensitivity in comedy.

Acting. It’s more important than ever that we use the privilege that we have for good. We will call out racism and bias and speak out in our communities. We will use the privilege we have to help dismantle institutional and systemic racism within our larger community. We will grow our personal circles beyond those who look like us. We will enhance access to and add more diverse voices to our stage, classroom, AND the boardroom.

Listening. We will make sure that the Black voices in our community are heard and amplified. The white lens is skewed and it’s only through really listening that we can scratch the surface of the Black experience. We will challenge our assumptions, validate the lived experiences of our marginalized community members, and adapt our way of being to one that is optimally inclusive.

Sunday night prior to our Town Hall, we held a Community Dialogue and allowed those in our community to share their thoughts and experiences. The dialogue was powerful and it was raw. And it was just the beginning. Our mission is to connect our community through comedy. But right now we must connect in a different way and we ask that the community join us. The improv world was built on the concept of “I got your back” and now more than ever we want to say unequivocally to the Black community that we have your back and we stand alongside you. Black Lives Matter.

The Stomping Ground Director Team

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Purchase a Dad-o-Gram for Father’s Day

This father’s day you may not be able to see dear old dad, but don’t let that stop you from giving him a unique gift that is sure to make you the favorite child! Give him a Dad-O-Gram from Stomping Ground, a customized song performed for him over the phone or Zoom on his special day (pssst June 21). The Stomping Ground Singers will get loads of information all about Dad like his catchphrase and that article of clothing he just WON’T stop wearing even though it hasn’t been cool since 1978, and we’ll turn it into a funny song just for him! The more we know about Dad the better; what we don’t know we’ll keep light and funny. You choose the genre of music (blues, country, or classic rock), a 2-hr window on Father’s Day where Dad will get a call (or for a little extra cash, a Zoom where you can join in!) and voila- we’ll make Dad laugh with his one-of-a-kind ditty. Orders yours today because the quantity is limited!

*Once you purchase, you’ll be sent a form to fill out so we can get info about dad and so you can choose your window of time when you’d like Dad to get his call (or your time for a Zoom call). You’ll also get to choose the genre of music that Dad would love best and the gender of the singer (if you have a preference). Pre-recording is also available for a fee. We are committed to customization, quality, and comedy!

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Help Welcome Our New Training Center Director

Stomping Ground is so thrilled to welcome aboard our new Training Center Director Jacie Hood to usher in Year Two and help grow and innovate our Adult Training Center.

Jacie is an educational nonprofit and theatre professional with almost two decades of performance experience. While receiving her BA and MPA from Texas Tech University, she served as the Business Manager of the popular improv comedy troupe Alternative Fuels and was a writer/performer for the biweekly live sketch comedy show Lubbock Unwrapped at the Cactus Theater. She was also a member of the Board of Directors for CATS Theatre and managed events for the Limelight Theatre. Throughout her nine years in Lubbock, she was seen as a performer, director, designer, and writer for over 40 productions as well as doing commercial and print work. Outside of theatre, Jacie worked in heavily in youth and public education at the Science Spectrum Museum, working regionally and nationally with educational networks. Since relocating to Dallas, she had remained in education working with the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History as well as the Dallas Arboretum managing educational programs, curriculum and instruction. When not at Stomping Ground, Jacie can be seen on stage, having worked with professional companies such as Uptown Players, Watertower Theatre, Theatre Three, and Lyric Stage.

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Stomping Ground 2019 Staff Appreciation and SG Awards

Stomping Ground held its first ever Staff Appreciation and Awards Party, organized by the Board of Directors and sponsored by Peticolas Brewery, Raising Canes, and Ferris Wheeler’s Backyard & BBQ.

It was a night of laughter, fun, and awards!

Awards were voted upon by the staff and performers. Board Members Andrea Kyprianou Baum, Ashli McLeod, and Jessica Roth presented multiple awards to the staff and instructor team while Executive Directors Jocelyn Tiner, Lindsay Goldapp, Baum, and Lindsey Hertel handed out multiple awards to teams, shows, and performers!

There were also karaoke performances, including Danny Gallagher with a silently rousing Uptown Funk, Chris Sanders with Total Eclipse of the Heart, John Dixon with Gay Messiah, Ashley Jones with Maybe This Time, and a rousing group version of Como la Flor by Natalia Borja, Diane Michelle, Alicia Nava, Chris Sanders, and Tiffani Rodriguez just to name a few.


Here is a full list of all the winners of the night:

SG EMTs

These individuals were the pulse of SG on the weekends and their hard work, countless hours, and care kept the theater thriving!

Diane Michelle

Natalia Borja

Arturo Garcia

Tiffani Rodriguez

Greg Smith

Robbi Holman


SG Angels

SG could not stay afloat without the help of these individuals. Not only are they hard-working and kind, but also dependable, talented, and funny.

Danny Gallagher

Clint Gilbert

Ashley Jones

Alicia Nava

Austin Roberts

Erin Singleton

Jenny Stoneking

Cao Tran

Michael Corbett

Scott Salhanik


Staff Awards

Light at the End of the Tunnel AwardMost Likely to See the Positive When the Sh*t is Hitting the Fan: Jocelyn Tiner

White Night Award- Most Likely to Save the Day: Diane Michelle

Triple Threat AwardMost Involved and Good at Everything: Jacie Hood

Playground AwardMost Likely to Make Any Moment Working with Them Fun: Ashley Rountree

David Bowie AwardNever Fails to Make Magic When Given An Assignment: Brooks Powers

Mom AwardAlways There to Listen To Your Problems, Give the Best Advice, but Still Call You Out On Your Sh*t: Lindsay Goldapp

Dad AwardMost Likely to Listen to Your Problems and Then Buy You a Beer: Cameron Goldapp

Loch Ness AwardLeast Likely to Be Found: Aaron Aryanpur

Confetti AwardMost Likely to Find a Reason to Celebrate: Diane Michelle

Small Wonder AwardMost Likely to Spreadsheet your Problems Away and Create a Genius Solution: Jocelyn Tiner

Beyonce AwardMost Likely to Help Out When Needed and Look Fierce When Doing It: Lindsey Hertel

Mr. Nice Guy AwardNicest and Most Helpful Instructor: Greg Mihalik

The Tarantino AwardInstructor Mostly Likely to Make You Have Your Biggest Breakthrough: Jason Folks

Mr. Fun Guy AwardMost Fun Instructor: Cameron Goldapp

The Feels AwardInstructor Most Likely to be Moved to Tears in Class and Connect with Students : Jason Folks

The Oprah AwardMost Inspiring Instructor : Rachel Farmer

The Cheerleader AwardMost Encouraging Instructor: Tyler Via

The Carebear AwardInstructor Who Cares About Their Students the Most: Greg Silva


Performer Awards

Oscar Award- Most Likely to Win a Real Oscar: Chris Sanders

Mommy Dearest Award- Most Likely to Play Your Mom in a Scene: Jacie Hood

Funny Bone Award- Most Likely to Get the Biggest Laughs: Jim Kuenzer

Killer Performer Award- Most Likely to Kill Someone in a Scene: Rachel Farmer

Clutz Award- Most Likely to Injure Themselves Onstage: Lauren Oxford

The Drifter Award- Most Likely to Go Out into the Audience During a Scene: Tyler Via

The Breaker Award- Most Likely to “Break” in a Scene: Meili Chao

The Stardom Award- Breakthrough Performer of the Year: Katie Dallas

The Hills Are Alive Award- Mostly Likely to Burst Into Song Onstage: John Dixon

Support Bra Award- Mostly Likely to Support You In a Scene: Logan Romero

Andy Kaufman Award- Always Has the Best Characters: Remington Fenter

Amazing Race Award- Most Likely to Amaze You: Jamie Zeske

Best Sketch Performer– Cotton Hensley

Best Musical Improviser- Greg Mihalik

Best Stand Up Comedian: Latrice Wilkerson

Best Performer– Lindsay Goldapp


Team & Show Awards

Chemistry Nerd Award- Team/Show with the Best Chemistry: Hometown Heroes

Pig Award- Team/Show Most Likely to Make You Laugh So Hard You Snort: Irregular Nonsense

Wild Thing Award- Team/Show With the Wildest Characters: Texas Sketch Show Massacre

Energizer Bunny Award- Team/Show With the Best Energy: D Word

Shock Yo Momma Award- Team/Show With the Most Absurd Content: Baby Cats

Unique New York Award- Team/Show With the Most Unique Format: Quest in Show

Best Musical Group: Sondheimlich Maneuver

Best House Team: Sound Garden

Best Sketch Show: Tech Tock

Best Visiting Show: Women of Candor


The night was one to remember. Special thanks to Peticolas, Ferris Wheeler’s, Raising Cane’s, August Edwards, Michael K Bruner Photography, and the Board of Directors for a great evening.

Click here for the full round up of photos by Michael Bruner.

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New SG Staff Announcement

Stomping Ground is so excited to welcome new staff members!

Chris Sanders is joining the Improv Instructor staff and teaching Level One for the Fall Term. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Training Center.

Here’s a little more about Chris:

Chris is an alum of the Stomping Ground Improv Program, is thrilled to return to Stomping Ground as the Improv I instructor. Chris may have been found on the SG stage in As Y’all Like It, Swipe Right, My F-ed Up Family Thanksgiving, Think Outside the Closet, and many improv showcases. Chris is also a Theatre professor at UTD in Richardson, as well as a Theatre performer. Their theatre credits include Noises Off (Theatre 3), Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol [2016] (Dallas Theater Center), The Learned Ladies, Much Ado About Nothing, Timon of Athens (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), Our Town (George Street Playhouse), Artist Descending a Staircase (Amphibian Stage Productions), Obama-ology, Split Second (Jubilee Theatre), Straight White Men (Second Thought Theatre), the World Premiere of The Monarch (Soul Rep and Echo Theatres), and Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (Count Basie Theatre). Chris earned her BA in Theatre from Kean University and her MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University. Chris Sanders is represented by the Mary Collins Agency, in Dallas, TX.


Katie Dallas is joining the team as the House Team Facilitator and working to organize, facilitate, and build the house team culture at SG. She brings with her years of performance experience and involvement at multiple improv training centers.

Here’s a little more about Katie:

Katie is an actor and voiceover talent who recently returned to Texas from NYC. While in New York, she studied improv at Upright Citizens Brigade and sketch comedy at The Peoples Improv Theater, where she was a core performer and sometimes writer in the ongoing residency show Bragging Rights. Katie’s comedic sensibilities have proven to be quite useful in the on-camera and VO commercial world, where she has national and international credits with top brand names. You can catch her on the Stomping Ground stage belting it out in the hit musical improv show Broadway(ish). 

Please help us welcome Chris and Katie to the SG Family!