I wasn’t expecting to write this blog post for another few weeks but due to unforseen circumstances the improv lessons have had to be cancelled so I am writing this a few weeks earlier then I expected and will still be in Newcastle but Ce La Vie.
When i leave Newcastle, people will ask me what is the thing I miss the most about the North East, I won’t say Newcastle, I won’t say seeing new areas, I won’t even say my job (even though i have liked all of them in their own way and for their own individual reasons) it will be the Improv scene. It will the first time I walked into the Stand on a Saturday morning and thought ‘oh my god i have to act like an idiot in front of strangers’. It is the time you realise that you are always ending up in really silly scenes with Adam at the beginning of learning improv.
Its that time when you do your first social event away from improv with others in your class and you realise that real friendships are forming. Its that time when you feel like a bumbling fool because a member of Spontaneous Wrex joins your class for a one off and you had only recently seen them on stage and never met them in person before and get thrown into do partner work with them straight away (Matt). Its that time when you start to realise that your area of speciality in improv is more physical games.
Its that time when you realise you want to start an improv troupe but noone has time or gets round to forming it seriously. Its that time when you watch a member do anything for a laugh as they only have sixty seconds and a christmas tree at hand (Adam, again). Its that time when you make an exercise routine up with the song Lean for Beanz as you want to make people laugh. Its that feeling of adrenaline you get from the laughter from the audience. Its that feeling of just keep pushing yourself to go bigger when the audience is enjoying what they see.
Its the friends you make that end up feeling like family.
All these things plus so many more memories have made improv and Newcastle the fantastic experience that it has been. I don’t regret any of it, even the times when I feel rubbish because I wasn’t happy with the scene, it doesn’t matter it is something that has allowed me to grow and develop as a person in both improv and in life.
This Weeks Lesson
This week we were being taught again by the marvelous Gary Kitching and focussed on a few games that come up on Rat Race. The first one we went through was scene tag. This is similar to freeze tag but you stop a scene and take over a character and continue the scene. On Sunday we all sort of froze up as we forgot how to play it so it was nice to get a refreshers course on it.
The next game we went onto was the game sit bend stand, where one of the three of the people in the scene have to be doing one of each. We have played this game before in lessons a long time ago and wish we played more of these new games more but it was nice to try it again with new people and to have a proper go.
The final game that we had time for was one scene three emotions. I only got up when a few people had a go as this is one of my games that I always do and have it down to a tee how to do well with it. Go completly bat sh*t crazy when it comes to mixing it up in the emotion scenes (and have the name Rik Mayall in the back of my head). it was a really fun night and was great to be taught by such a comedy legend all over again.
Case Study The Suggestibles – again
When I first planned to write my final article I was solely going to focus on it being all about Ian and Bev and all about them being the fantastic teachers that they have been but i feel that it wouldn’t be fair to the other members of their improv troupe and now let me tell you why.
When I first started writing this blog, I wrote about the Suggestibles (click here to read) and it was all about seeing them for the first time live but since then i have learnt a lot about improv from watching them time and time again and owe them all so so much as they have all taught me so much stuff about improv and are all truly inspirations.
Bev Fox – Miss Yoda
I can’t put Bev in a box as to one particular thing she has taught me because she has taught me so so much. Right from the start she has always taught the fundamentals and also pushed us each time to challenge are limits and to see just how far we can go with improv.
It has been a pure delight and honour to of trained under Bev and when I continue my development in Improv, she will be one of the main people in my head that i will constantly be thanking for moulding me into the improviser I become. She is fascinating to watch on stage and its so fun to see what characters she will come up with. One of my favourite scenes I enjoy watching her on stage do is the improvised musical as she always comes up with some of the best songs on the spot.
Ian McLaughlin – Mr Yoda
Again, I owe Ian so much as he has been extremely supportive and a fantastic trainer right from the start. It has been really fun being taught by Ian and just like Bev he has taught me so much in relation to improv training that wherever the comedy takes me it will be them two I Will be most thankful to for introducing me to the genre so well and in such a great way.
Again, it has been a pure honour to of been trained by Ian and have learnt a lot about the silliness of improv and i think some of the games he introduced us to made me realise that my strength is in Physical comedy. i enjoy watching Ian on stage as he always comes up with characters with bizarre personalities and he isn’t afraid to do what it takes to make a good show for an audience.
Tom Walton – The Character Sensei
Tom hosted one of my favourite improv lessons I have had in Newcastle (read more about it here ) . He is fascinating to watch when he performs because he doesn’t do the norm he thinks outside the box and creates the most craziest of characters that you would of never even of imagined to come into that scene.
To watch on stage he is like a ball of Plasticine, just like Morph, he can mould himself into any character and make the audience believe it and create hilarious results. One of my favourite characters he has performed was of a pigeon in the musical of unacquainted love and the reason behind this is because it was such an out of the blue character that it was highly hilarious and when it was mixed with a silly song about being a pigeon it raised it four times higher then it was before.
Alex Ross – The Music Sensei
I play guitar and keyboard and to me Alex and his musical talents are such an inspiration to me as an improviser and a musician. The way that he can improvise pretty much any style of genre or the music for the musical is fascinating and is really a fantastic role model. I have seen people use music in improv before but a lot of it is not improvised it is usually a set song base that they will change lyrics to – if Alex does this he masks it extremely well.
In the future I want to incorporate music into my improv, I am noway as good at playing instruments as Alex is but it is a task i want to set myself. I mean anyone who can perform a show with a bandaged finger deserves some sort of award just for that as I watched him throughout that show and he didn’t shy away from the piano key playing on that finger.
Carl Kennedy – The Expressions Sensei
From the first time I saw the Suggestibles, Carls persona on stage stuck with me as he a very good performer. The one thing that he can do exceptionally well is create a character purely from doing amazing accents or just making his eyes a bit wider.
I remember one of the first shows I ever saw of the troupe they did a musical called ‘Aspects of Hypnotherapy’ and he took the lead of the Doctor trying to cure Ian. This was the first proper time that i really saw the levels of expressions that Carl can do on stage as he transformed into this German Doctor, with a slight hint of campness and it was comedy genious. His accents and facial expressions completely make the character and always make him a pleasure to watch.
Rachel Glover – Go-with-the-flow Sensei
I really enjoy watching Rachel perform because she is one person that always ends up in a scene where it is meant to be about one thing but then someone will come on and not notice what it was initially meant to be about. I have noticed with Rachel she is great with just going with the flow and just accepting everything that is thrown at her on stage. This is a great inspiration as an improviser as even when you are not sure what something is, you just go with it and if all else fails make everything bigger and that’s what i love about Rachel as an improviser.
So that’s it! That is my last blog from the Newcastle improv scene!
The photos above are a photo from my first ever performance and the one on the right from my last ever performance in the North East.
The Improv Diaries will now not be happening until the big move and will probably return in September! Thank you all for reading and i hope to see you all on the other side!
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER – LONDON IMPROV SCENE -> HERE I COME!