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We Love You! A recap of 2022 SCIF!

October 4, 2022

I am beyond thrilled with everything that happened with the 2022 Secret City Improv Festival.  There are a lot of thanks that need to be given all the way around.  The first thank you needs to be given to every person who took their time to come and be with us at the Historic Grove Theater.  I also need to thank every volunteer who came and helped: Jessica, Suzanne, Nathan, Stavros, Richard, Sheri, Valerie, Michelle, and Jason.  Your time and effort are appreciated.  I need to thank Frank Murphy, Aaron Garrett, Paul Simmons, Stephanie Merry, and Jennifer Russell for stepping up throughout the year and helping with everything from PR to our selection committee.  I also must thank my co-producer, Richard Regan, he was the one who helped to craft so much of the experience we had this year.  It was through countless hours that we were able to put together a show for everyone, and it was his guidance that brought this whole thing together.  I owe Richard a debt of gratitude for everything.  

I must also thank Terri Lloyd from ORHS for her invaluable contributions to helping us craft the Slayden Intensives.  It was her feedback that led us down the path to creating the program you saw during the festival.  Richard and Terri spent hours working together to figure out what was needed to make a better learning experience for the students.  It is because of these meetings we were able to bring this initiative to life.  We were able to give about 40 students that experience of a lifetime, and in 2023 we will be able to do it better!

With that said I need to thank the teachers from each of our participating schools, Terri Lloyd, John Sides, and Erin Housam.  The schools were enthusiastic in their approach to having their students, and it was our pleasure to have them all be part of our program.  Each of the students put on a show, and they showed why it matters to bring improv to the younger generation.  Their fearlessness on stage is unrivaled, and we are all the better for having gotten to experience that.  I also want to give a special shout-out to Daisy, Emma, and Zac from Hardin Valley.  You all are amazing.  These kids stepped on the stage to compete for the Slayden Cup and to participate in the Last Hoorah Jam.  Seriously that is incredibly brave, and you deserve all the accolades for going for all the time you could.  You made us all proud, and a pat on the back is well deserved.  

I also need to thank the fantastic instructors who spent their Saturday with us.  Ana Bernot Reiley, Chris Barry, Hannah Aslesen, Hadley Singer, and Rouge Schmidt were the ones who took on the challenge and they delivered.  They took on the students and imparted their years of wisdom and skill directly to them.  You are all wonderful improvisers, and the impact you made will be felt for many years to come.  A thank you is not enough!

I also need to give thanks to everyone that wanted to open up and work directly with the public, and that is Joe Carroll, Paul Simmons, Grant Collins, Steven Disbrow, and Zach Hacker.  Each of these wonderful performers also gave up their time to be a teacher at the Secret City Improv Festival.  Their wealth of knowledge helps to make this festival a rich experience for all. 

I need to take this time to also thank the folks who make this festival happen and that are the performers who came from everywhere to bring joy to our stage.  Our friends who returned with us include, Einstein Simplified, Blue Plate Special, Improv Chattanooga, Playback Reloaded, Danger Junior, Action Show, and Four First Names.  We welcomed a lot of new friends for this festival and that includes Harpoon!, Teenage Heartthrobs, Hadley, Magic Improv, Cumberland Striptease, Jolo,  Mom and Dad, and Louie Yes Anderson.  This festival lives and breathes through you all.  Each of you brought something fun and unique and we are all the better for you delivering that to us all.  We also welcomed a new musical director for this year Nicholas Horner.  We can not thank you enough for the gift of music that you most graciously provided for both nights.  It was amazing to have you there from our improvised rock opera through the Slayden Cup and The Last Hoorah Jam and the countless other moments you made great.  Nicholas, you are awesome plain and simple.

I need to take the time to also recognize the folks who stepped up to help us out.  First off, I need to thank, Explore Oak Ridge for the material support this year.  Thank you for helping us with either sending out press releases or letting us fundraise during Cars for Canines.  It was wonderful working with you all again.  Mike Massaglia is a friend through and through, his support has been there from the get-go, and we love him and his agency for that.  If you need insurance then visit him first.  Gatlinburg Comedy Tours, Brad Lovett, and his crew have stayed with us from the start.  They really take and show you Gatlinburg in a way you can only experience with them.  Book a tour at gatlinburgcomedytours.com.  Dos Bros Fresh Mexican Grill has done their best to feed us for two years in a row.  They have also been a smash hit too.  Seriously go see Alfredo and his team and eat what can only be described as the best damn Mexican food period.  We got to welcome some wonderful support from Food City who helped us out with all sorts of concessions.  So if you grabbed chips, soda, or ice cream just remember you can also pick that up from Food City.  The DoubleTree by Hilton was our official host hotel, and they really came through by also hosting us for our performer brunch. The stay and experience there are wonderful from the comfy bed to the warm cookie or just gracious hosts.  The DoubleTree is a great experience and should be the place you stay for your trip.  Dominos Pizza came through huge and helped us feed an army of people.  It means a lot to us to have had all of the wonderful pizzas again, and we look forward to being able to feature you all again next year.  Firegrass Jewelry and King Translation are both owned by Arthur Dias and his wife Kelsey, and we are going to be sending the beautiful jewelry they gave us to our drawing winners.  The jewelry they sell is both incredibly beautiful but really unique as it is made with Brazilian Golden Grass and they are the ones who sell it to all of us.  Check out their products at firegrassjewelery.com.  I also want to thank the Oak Ridge Playhouse for their support by placing our ad in their program.  It is so vitally important to support each other in the arts, and the Oak Ridge Playhouse always does top-notch productions.  They have a whole season of wonderful shows for their 80th season so please go visit one of their shows and find out more at www.orplayhouse.com. I also need to thank our newest partner, Pinnacle Financial Partners.  Their commitment to the arts shows greatly through their support of the OR Playhouse and with us at the Secret City Improv Festival.  They support the community through a lot of initiatives, and it is so vitally important.  We thank them for their support. 

Now finally I need to say a super special thank you to the people who really make this happen, and that is The Friends of the Grove Theater.  It is their mission to celebrate the arts and open this space to everyone from the Ballet to the Orchestra to schools.  If you can think of it, it probably happens at The Historic Grove Theater. David Allred and his whole staff make this wonderful space available and it really is a gem for not just Oak Ridge, but East Tennessee as a whole.  

This long-winded thank you hopefully recognizes everyone who helped do everything they could to make this event the success that it was.  Let’s do this again on October 6th and 7th, 2023! 

Until next time,

Aaron C. Campbell, CAPM

Director, Secret City Improv Festival