As If We Never Said Goodbye
Improguise - Thursdays at Thornton Hall. Improvised Jane Austen style show. Even the costumes are improvised from our own wardrobes.
Been ages since I updated. So better let you all know what I’ve been up to. The most exciting and terrifying project for me has been my journey into performed improvisation.
Toward the end of last year I signed up to do an 8 week course on performed improvisation and Theatresports - which is a lot like the show Whose Line Is It Anyway? I’d done a scaled down “weekend” version of the course before and really enjoyed it and felt it had helped me overcome a few performance fears and blocks.
At some point during the course something just clicked for me. I think a lot of actor’s will know what I mean when I say that we sometimes “watch” ourselves and judge the performance we’re giving. It takes an extra step to let go of that watchful eye and just be totally ok with your and other people’s choices, without judgement. When you can just throw yourself into somebody else’s proposal and go with it wholeheartedly, you leave all your staleness behind and it is so liberating and thrilling.
And that is what that improv course and the subsequent work with the group has brought me. Of course, I sometimes get scared again and have to be reminded that it’s not conducive to a good performance to hold onto what is comfortable and familiar. But the group I am working with are just astoundingly supportive and ridiculously talented and giving performers. Over 20 years performing together will do that.
I was invited to join them immediately after the course but because I was performing in The Great Gatsby and The Little Mermaid until January, it just wasn’t an option. So in January I had to jump straight into a full scale improv festival where we were doing long form shows. Two 45 minute acts every night for two weeks. The idea of it strongly reminded of the way my dad taught me how to swim - thrown in the deep end and told not to drown.
I performed in Thursday at Thornton Hall, which was a Jane Austen style improv and Friday Family Musical which is self explanatory. There were moments when I walked out on stage with nothing but tumbleweed in my brain. But the wonderful thing about improv, when it’s done right, is that your fellow performers will not let you fail. So it was a huge success. I was so jealous not to have been involved in the Wednesday Western too.
I did my first Theatresports show a couple of weeks ago and it was the most fun I’ve had on stage ever. You feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride and humility all at the same time because, believe me, it doesn’t always work. But when it does - it is theatre magic.
Sadly, I now have to take 6 months off from performing with Improguise. But happily, it’s because I start rehearsals for the South African tour of Sunset Boulevard on Monday.
I’m gobsmacked that so many people seem to consider it a compliment to an actor to say “they understood the text”. I should bloody hope they did! If an actor can’t say the lines so that they make sense, they’re a lousy actor. Shakespeare and other heightened texts are still English. You’re not creating cold fusion by speaking your own language.
The audience entrance to Little Mermaid. Complete with treasure chest, jelly fish, sea horses, crabs and fishing nets. And of course the sounds of the ocean. So sweet.