Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Interview with Hoopla teacher Chris Mead

Had a catch up with Chris to find out about the course he created 'Improvised Theatre with Chris Mead' and what else he has been up to recently. 

Hi Chris, can you tell us what is the Improvised Theatre course? 

The improvised theatre course is for improvisers who have gone through all the improv basics and are asking themselves “what next”? Personally, I love improv which is joyful, emotionally-connected, grounded and playful - so that’s the style I’m teaching in this course. It’s nearer to theatre than sketch and although it’s always very funny, it deals with a broader scope of emotions.

What will students be learning over the 8 weeks?

We get through a lot. Group mind, trust, emotional vulnerability, playing from a place of positivity, drawing from your own life to create characters, how to find the story in your relationship, theatricality, slow-burn comedy, intimacy, silence, listening, snack foods…

What improv projects/shows are you currently working on? 

We’re in the process of retooling Project2, my science fiction group, for a couple of really exciting projects (including a run of WEEKLY late shows at Hoopla!). I’m also enjoying visiting international festivals to teach and perform with the Maydays. On top of that, I’m administrating the Originals series for The Nursery Theatre, rehearsing for a new Harry Potter improv show and directing a show with my improv theatre company, Unmade. We’re premiering that in Sweden at the end of March and then we’re performing it for a limited run at The Nursery. I’m also doing a lot of behind the scenes work to get my podcast, YesBot, back up and running. Also sleep and eating.

Thanks Chris, have fun in Sweden!!  


Next Improvised Theatre with Chris Mead course starts in April -

Project2 Lates starting Wednesday 4th April -

Blogpost created by Angela

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

I find this game hard!

Blog by Steve Roe, Director of Hoopla Impro. Improv courses, shows and improv comedy club in London, UK. 

A couple of times this season people have said to me that they find a game hard. 

My first impulse was to try to make it less hard for them, or give them something else. But actually my new response is just "yes, it's hard".

The game where this is most likely to happen is a gibberish scene where you can only talk in gibberish and not in English. Or the 1-21 game where the only dialogue allowed is the numbers 1-21 in order.

Why are they hard? 

Because they both remove speech, which might have been propping the improviser up in their scenes previously. 

At first with speech removed they feel like they can't do anything in the scene. It feels hard because they feel stuck and don't know what to do.

But that's the whole point. The game makes that part of their improv (speech) temporarily unavailable, so they have to discover something else instead. Eventually with practice they discover the full range of emotions and physicality and movement they can do on stage. 

Eventually the intellectual side that so desperately needs language to control the situation just gives up and the rawer emotions and physicality take over and the person becomes even more expressive than ever. 

I remember when John Cremer first did the 1-21 game on me and I felt infuriated and embarrassed about my lack of ability to physically express anything. But as I played the game I realised I was hiding the embarrassment inside, but it was more fun to just let it out and be in the scene. 

The "me" in the gibberish scene eventually felt different from the "me" that used to be in scenes more. It was more instinctual, more emotional, and eventually became more fun. 

Eventually by limiting language in games we allow real emotions to show themselves in the body instead. Eventually. 

They might look like simple games, but there's actually a big change going on. If someone is not used to honestly expressing themselves fully emotionally and physically in the present moment this is a big step to discover, and it can feel overwhelming to suddenly have very real emotions swamp you on stage. They can feel like tigers that we want to keep locked up in a cage of "professional work face" but actually on stage these tigers can come out and play. You are allowed to laugh and cry in improv.

So don't feel bad if you find what looks a simple game hard. There's a lot more going on than meets the eye. 

And if you find a game hard then keep doing it, it's there to show you something and it will click after a while. And the harder you are finding it often the more you need that game.

A lot of learning drama through games comes from Viola Spolin, who believed any part of acting can be taught through playing games where the learning point of the game was buried into the successful play of the game itself. 

Blog by Steve Roe, Director of Hoopla Impro. Improv courses, shows and improv comedy club in London, UK.