Get interactive at "Mad Improv" theater workshops and shows!


Madrid’s theater scene is brimming with activity. You’ll find live micro-theater being performed in bathrooms and lingerie stores, as well as acting classes and alternative shows scheduled daily throughout the city.

But there isn’t much available in English, which is why I want to introduce you to Mad Improv, an English-speaking improv group that’s been shaking things up in Madrid’s interactive theater scene since 2014.

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

Mad Improv hosts shows and workshops on a regular basis, all run by its cast members in English. Free improv workshops – called “gyms” – are held on Sundays from 5pm-7pm. Gyms are purely donation-based and absolutely everyone is welcome so you never know who might show up. People have even come in on flight layovers!

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

They also hold monthly open shows – called “jams” – where anyone can get up on stage and play improv games. Jams cost €3 with a drink (which probably comes in handy).

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

Locations for gyms and jams vary from Fundación First Team in Sol to Retiro when the weather allows. And right now they have a new set of upcoming shows at La Escalera de Jacob!

So check out their Meetup, Facebook and Twitter pages to stay up to date. Once you attend an event you can also ask one of the organizers to add you to the whatsapp group.

My experience – great way to step out of your comfort zone

I had secretly always wanted to drop in on an acting class, but never got around to it until this summer when two friends, Riju (India) and Laura (Spain), enthusiastically agreed to join me at one of the Sunday gyms. This was in August so the workshop was held in Retiro behind the Palacio de Cristal.

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

An international group of about 15 people showed up – the different backgrounds and languages definitely added an element of fun and spontaneity to the mix. And our organizer, Summer Banks (in the photo below), did a great job at including everyone and making sure the exercises were easy to follow.

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

What started out with simple warm-up games quickly gave way to more challenging improv activities that admittedly made me feel ridiculous. But it’s a wonderful way to get out of your comfort zone, connect with people and laugh a lot. My friends and I left with the feeling that we wanted to try our hands at improv again (and hopefully do it better next time), which meant the fun far outweighed the awkwardness!

Chat with the founder, Ben

Mad Improv workshops, shows and interactive theater in English in Madrid

Just before going to the workshop, I had met up with Mad Improv’s founder Ben Nathan-Serio at the newly opened Plántate Café. After studying drama in NYC and working in the field, Ben moved to Barcelona where he first started working in children’s theater. Four years in he launched his own interactive theater production, The Barcelona Time Detectives, and was also a founding member of BIG, The Barcelona Improv Group.

When Ben came to Madrid, he quickly became involved in Madrid’s English-speaking theater scene and founded Mad Improv in 2014. Ben says, “The reason I started Mad Improv was because there was no improv community here; I wanted to reach out to the community in a bigger way, to get people involved.”

What makes improv and interactive theater so special is that it’s empowering, says Ben, as it allows for genuine human interaction and connection. Not to mention, getting out of your comfort zone is both invigorating and fun.

Live in Theater Spain the Lombardi Case

In addition to Mad Improv, Ben also recently co-founded Live in Theater Madrid, a NYC-based group whose hit interactive show, The Lombardi Case, debuted here in summer. It’s a truly unique and entertaining two-hour event where the audience tries to solve a murder mystery – read our previous article about The Lombardi Case on Naked Madrid!

More to come

While Mad Improv and Live in Theater are alive and kicking in Madrid, Ben just relocated to Austin, Texas, where he’s taking part in a 9-month research lab called The Interactive Deep Dive. And he can’t wait to “come back with some very fresh, invigorating ideas for Live In Theater, Mad Improv and just the city in general.”

So stayed tuned, because we’ll make sure to fill you in on what’s in store.

Mad Improv Info:

 




La Chispa, Live Storytelling in English and Spanish in Lavapiés


Misunderstanding—now there’s a theme to which everyone can relate. The fourth incarnation of La Chispa, a live storytelling event held on March 1, offered storytellers a platform to share tales of malentendidos with an audience gathered at Atelier Café de la Llana in Lavapies. La Chispa takes its inspiration from The Moth, an organization that hosts storytelling events across the globe and radio and podcast editions as well. La Chispa’s coordinator, Natasha Yaworsky, gave birth to the idea of hosting a Moth-like event in Madrid after listening to many of the organization’s programs. “The stories are always good,” she explained when asked why The Moth had become an auditory staple in her life, “no matter what,” she added.

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As event organizer Dan Catalan (featured in the photo above) put it, a “passionate and clever little team” started La Chispa and has been keeping it running since September of this year. Animation student Diego Salas joins Yaworksy and Catalan to round out the co-founding group. The three started working on the idea for the event and from there, according to Salas, “our support network, friends, everyone stepped up to help.” After wandering around Lavapies, it was decided that Atelier Café de la Llana was the most qualified space, and owner Enrique de la Llana was willing to offer the setting as a background for the event.

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Natasha Yaworsky

At the most recent event, the theme of malentendidos produced narratives that produced laughs. Catalan explained, “there is always a theme to the events, but it is purposely vague so that storytellers have freedom to take it and run with it.” What better theme than malentendidos for a gathering with an audience heavily comprised of expats for whom life is a landmine of misunderstandings when daily interactions must be carried out in a foreign language? Not only are the themes meant to be broad, they are also meant to be widely relatable. One story, dealt with a series of business interactions ridden with misunderstanding due to language difference. There was a moving account focusing on the themes of identity and acceptance all through an account of being misunderstood as a famous Asian prostitute while at a dance club in Tel Aviv. Another wove an elaborate saga about a misunderstanding that happened years ago in a summer camp bathroom. The stories ran the gamut, each with their own flair and intrigue.

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Diego Salas

Storytellers participating in La Chispa are asked to keep their tales between 8 and 10 minutes. To mark the time, harmonica player extraordinaire, Diana Dwyer, alerted the speakers when their spot is about to end. If the harmonica sounds (pun-intended) kitschy, it did not seem at all out of place at the event. It was just another piece of the patchwork.

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Inside the space, chairs were so crammed into the small cafe space that when one person would get up, another person would sit down in their chair, which also added to the collective ambience of the event. The pre-show period became a bit like a game of musical chairs, but what better way to circulate and share some of your own stories except not in front of a mic?

La Chispa storytelling in English and Spanish in Lavapies by Naked Madrid

At La Chispa: Malentendidos, expats comprised most of the crowd, but according to various event-goers, the audience makeup has been different with each go-around. Yaworsky remarked that she liked the idea of hosting the event in Madrid because of its potential to “offer a middle ground to English and Spanish speakers.” Storytellers may tell their accounts in either English or Spanish (as long as they tell them without notes) and the pre-selected themes guarantee that speakers of either language will relate. The organizers expressed a desire for more Spanish storytellers to come forward and have their voices heard.

Another hope for future events is for the event to showcase stories from a broader range of perspectives, specifically and to have participants from a wider range of ages. Yaworsky’s ultimate goal for the project is to have The Moth come to Madrid and host an official event.

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In the meantime, the event coordinators want to encourage storytellers—seasoned and burgeoning alike—to share their stories at upcoming events. The organizers were quick to acknowledge that the general public may think that they cannot tell a story, but were even quicker to offer assurances that story tellers will receive ample assistance in preparing for the event.

Once the story tellers have committed, the event organizers host workshops to rehearse the stories, hash out details, and give performers the chance to work out how exactly they want to spin their tales. At the workshops, storytellers hear feedback on how to crystalize the three main parts of the story: the beginning, conflict, and end as well as receive tips on how to “pretzel” or tie it all together. The theme for the next scheduled La Chispa has been set for ‘Las desgracias nunca vienen solas’ or ‘When it rains, it pours.”

La Chispa storytelling in English and Spanish in Lavapies by Naked Madrid

The event will be held on Sunday, April 5 at 9 pm. Both storytellers and story-listeners are welcome. Yet another event is planned for Sunday, May 3. Keep an eye out for posters designed by Salas advertising the event. In the words of the event’s mastermind Nastasha Yaworksy: The more you listen, the more you realize that you have a story to tell. The photographic services company, Imagimedia, was on site to video record the event and the stories will be available for viewing on YouTube and Facebook.

To find out about upcoming La Chispa events, check out:

La Chispa’s Facebook group

Naked Madrid’s event page

Atelier Café de la Llana (event venue)




La Buena Cerveza, all things beer in Madrid


My first encounter with beer was many years ago (well, not too many). When I was a child in Madrid, I used to go to the bar with my dad to watch football and spend the afternoon together. My father, an Englishman with a Spanish family, always said that I should get used to beer as soon as possible so I’d appreciate it better. To help me along, he would always pass me his glass and look away so that I could take a few sips, feeling like I was doing something wrong.

La Buena Cerveza by Naked Madrid

A few weeks ago, I was running late to meet up with friends at Mercado de San Antonwhen a little sign caught my attention: talleres de elaboración de cerveza” (or in English, homemade beer workshop). Once again, as if I were a little boy, the feeling of doing something wrong popped into my head. My friends will have to wait, cause I’m going in!

La Buena Cerveza

Once I got through La Buena Cerveza‘s door, I found Nacho across the shop, a Madrileño from Vallecas (a south-east neighbourhood of Madrid). As we started talking, he kindly offered me a cold La Cibeles stout–a Spanish craft beer from Madrid. As we drank, he told me he had always dreamt of opening a beer shop in the center of Madrid. In his dream shop, a customer could find not only 1,000 different kinds of beer , but also a place to taste and experience the deeply cherished beverage.

La Buena Cerveza

At La Buena Cerveza, feel free to ask the owners to open up a beer for you from the fridge. Though it’s not a bar, you’re welcome to buy a beer and drink it there (for tasting purposes, obviously!)

La Buena Cerveza

Nacho and Manuel (brothers and co-founders of La Buena Cerveza) organize  beer tastings every two weeks. They cost 15€ and include at least 5 different beers. Here you’ll also find the reason why I first came in. For a reasonable price of 85€, you can see yourself making your own beer in a seven-hour workshop. And if that’s not enough, you can even make beer at your own home, and have them store it for you in the right conditions until it’s good enough to drink!

La Buena Cerveza

If you’re interested in going to the tasting but aren’t comfortable with your Spanish just yet, get in touch with us and we can help out!

Address: c/ Pelayo 5
Metro: Chueca or Gran Vía
Facebook

Tlf 910060524


La Buena Cerveza

 

 

La Buena Cerveza

La Buena Cerveza




El Matadero, a slaughterhouse turned phenomenal cultural hub


If you’re looking for something as impressive as the Prado or the Reina Sofia, but off-the-beaten-path, it’s El Matadero. The perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon alone or with friends in Madrid, here you can calmly diddle daddle through a maze of art exhibits and designer market stands. Then, enjoy a café con leche or a cold Madrid brew outside. El Matadero has it all–from Spain’s national dance company performances to international innovation conferences.

What is it?

Just a 10-minute subway ride from Sol, El Matadero is a culture/innovation hub and architectural treasure. The former slaughterhouse (hence, the name) is now a public-private entity offering book-readings, theater and music performances, photography exhibits and independent cinema on a nightly basis, most of which are free. 

Naked Madrid El matadero

on día internacional de la danza, image from Matadero’s Facebook page

Not to be compared with any other space in the city, El Matadero is an ambitious project and the fruit of a most innovative and modern Madrid. This cultural center also provides ongoing activities for families as well as a space for local innovators to develop their projects, all of which you can see while wandering through its enormous labyrinth of warehouses (naves) and open work spaces. 

art project at el matadero by naked madrid

There are six naves, each used for a different purpose. For example, the Nave Español holds theater and dance performances. The Cineteca showcases international and independent film festivals. The Música Nave holds concerts and recording studios.

la cantina

The old oven has now been usurped by the café, La Cantina, that sells locally produced food and wines, and has the kind of atmosphere that makes you want to stay forever. Plus, it has one of the best terrazas (outdoor seating areas) in all of Madrid, in my opinion at least.

La Cantina cafe and restaurant at Matadero by Naked Madrid

When the weather’s nice, my husband and I like to go there by bike; it’s a breezy 30-minute ride from Principe Pio along Madrid’s river (Madrid Río), which the city has done an amazing job of revamping. The river is now lined with bike and pedestrian paths, unique bridges, playgrounds (for grown-ups too!), street workout equipment, sprawling green zones and sprinkler areas. Plus it’s a straight shot to El Matadero.

la cantina matadero madrid by naked madrid

Last summer I took my sister, Amanda, from New York, to El Matadero for the whole afternoon. We first slipped into what used to be the slaughterhouse’s fridge area, where an odd fire exhibit was being showcased. When we stepped out onto the courtyard, a group of flamenco dancers were zapateando (stomping) and smoking in a circle, getting ready to go on stage in the Nave Español. Then we parked ourselves at La Cantina for a glass of wine and a plate of delicious vegetable dishes made from Madrid’s local gardens.

Amanda was amazed how all of this was so open to the public, and that it wasn’t even packed. She said that if this were to be opened in Brooklyn, lines would be stretching to Queens.

History

El Matadero was built in the 1920s as a pig slaughterhouse, and was turned into a cultural center in 2006. When they renovated the slaughterhouse, the goal was to keep the original columns, the beams, the ovens and exterior structure in tact. For example, the first room you see on the left of the entrance used to be the freezer. Now it’s an exhibition space. The dark, sinister feel makes you ponder what really went on in there. The interior was designed to be versatile and sustainable — most of the walls can be rolled away or folded up to make way for projects and events of all scale.

What to do?

Even if you’re in Madrid for a few days, don’t be intimidated by the amount of things going on. I highly recommend checking out their activities list (which is in English) or just stopping by to see the architecture and the vibe. As you stroll through the different spaces, you’ll stumble upon anything from an indoor garden to a conference on new technology. Activities are open to the public in the afternoon, and you’re free to walk around the plaza, find a nook to study in or have a drink at the café anytime.

What’s new?

Since October 2013, El Matadero has its own independent marketEl Mercado Central de Diseño.

Mercade de diseño central in El Matadero Madrid by Naked Madrid

El Matadero’s monthly market–El Mercado Central de Diseñois one of Madrid’s first design markets for entrepreneurs in the worlds of fashion, design and arts & crafts. During the two-day market, various free music concerts and events are put on as well, making it a hot spot to go with friends on the weekend!

Mercade de diseño central in El Matadero Madrid by Naked Madrid

Information:

El Matadero
Facebook
Where: Paseo de la Chopera 14 Metro: Legazpi (line 3, yellow)
Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 4pm to 10pm Saturday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm
Telephone: 915 17 73 09




The Cocktail Room, Madrid's one-stop cocktail shop


the cocktail room in Madrid by naked madrid

Consider The Cocktail Room your one-stop shop for anything cocktail-related in Madrid, offering all the skills and tools needed for the art of mixology. Here you can delve into adventurous workshops on classic gin & tonics and luxurious aphrodisiac cocktails (better than couple’s therapy!), partake in daring sake and bourbon tastings, or try a three-hour course on how to make the 10 Best Cocktails in History. And for  any aspiring star mixologists out there, The Cocktail Master course offers 51 days and 153 hours of hands-on professional training.



If that doesn’t quite cut it,  The Cocktail Room also sells a wide collection of rare liqueurs, drink-making gadgets and recipe books. They even boast a showroom, professional testing-lab and space for private events.

the cocktail room in Madrid by naked madrid

The Cocktail Room‘s chic style blends effortlessly into its home on calle Castelló, 98, in the heart of Madrid’s upscale neighborhood. Run by a dynamic and international team who share a common passion for the craft of mixing the perfect drink,  The Cocktail Room is often called upon to host some of Madrid’s most stylish events, such as Madrid Fashion Week. Their creative mixing talents, hip themes and extensive knowledge put The Cocktail Room on top of Madrid’s burgeoning cocktail scene.

Check out their Facebook page or their website to see their ongoing courses and upcoming events. And keep reading to hear about my personal experience at the Aphrodisiac Cocktail Workshop.

the cocktail room in Madrid by naked madrid

saki tasting, image from https://www.facebook.com/TupacKirby1

I was invited to The Cocktail Room on Valentine’s Day with my husband, James, to their first Aphrodisiac Cocktail Workshop, created and delivered by Max Vázquez. By the sound of it, I imagined I was going to attend a tasting, where I’d be sipping chocolate and cherry cocktails while listening to the ingredients for how to make the perfect mood-boosting concoction. Little did I know, the theory part was going to be brief. As I entered the candy and heart-decorated room with just a handful of other couples, Max and his assistant explained what was in store for us.

decorations at the aphrodisiac cocktail workshop, https://www.facebook.com/TupacKirby1

We would be making elixir-like cocktails from scratch, customized for our partners who were blindfolded. Yes, blindfolded! There was a table filled with all the different cocktail components; aromas, citrus, syrups, liqueurs, fruits, different-sized cocktail glasses, and more. After Max gave us a 20 minute introductory example, it was time for us to jump in and start mixing.

aphrodisiac cocktail workshop, https://www.facebook.com/TupacKirby1

With our blindfolded partner waiting patiently beside the bar, our job was to pick out the five ingredients we thought they’d like, have them smell each one, and guide us based on their senses. Once we decided on each component, we helped our blindfolded partner to put the cocktail ingredients into the shaker, and then shake it up and pour it successfully into the glass (which we also picked out for them), without spilling all over themselves or the person sitting next to them. We topped it off with the fruit of our choice and voilá. Then the tables were turned.

the cocktail room in Madrid by naked madrid

an example of how to help your blindfolded loved one to make an aphrodisiac cocktail. much better than couple’s therapy…

the cocktail room in Madrid by naked madrid

my husband, James, tasting the white chocolate liqueur I picked out for him

Some couples got it right, some couples didn’t. James got it right. He made me a cocktail which I named Orange Delight. I, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. I mixed way too much sweet amaretto, with way too much sweet white chocolate liqueur, then added too much chocolate aroma, and well, let’s just say it took plenty of post-attempts and tweakings to make it drinkable.

the cocktail my husband made me :)

the cocktail my husband made me :)

The Cocktail Room offers a variety of different courses. Since G&T’s are my drink of choice, my next workshop will have to be the Gin Tonics workshop that they offer on Saturdays. Which one do you want to try?

Web 
Address: c/ Castelló 98
Courses

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