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Prepare for the Unexpected: Standard Day at the Office for The Improverts

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The Improverts are a fearless team of players who perform comedy sketches and games based entirely on their audience suggestions and tweets. A regular name at The Edinburgh Fringe, Youth Arts Online talks to this year’s team of ‘Imps’ to find out how they produce comedy directed by the audience’s will…

Lauren (18) and Rosie (19) are The Improverts’ producers who both ‘jumped at the chance’ to join them for the Edinburgh Fringe. Even as the producers they have to keep up with the unpredictability of each show which Rosie claims ‘keeps us on our toes’ and is the reason Lauren loves the job so much.

What is involved in producing a performance? What skills are needed for this?

Lauren: Producing put simply is being in charge of the money, marketing and management for the show you’re working on. Being organised is a crucial part of the job- I don’t know what I’d do without my to-do lists, it’s a tad sad really!

Rosie: Teamwork and communication, as the producer works with the rest of the creative team, the players, the venue and many others; budgeting; organisation, the overseeing and organising of many elements of the show, such as publicity, merchandise, flyering.

How much work goes in to each performance?

Lauren: A lot more than you might think! Our publicity is the result of many meetings, inspiration boards and drafts with our wonderful designer. The majority of a producers’ work happens before the show, once the run is under way much of it is checking sales, flyering and getting it reviewed by the right people.

Rosie: Before each show we flyer with the players themselves to fill up remaining seats and just promote the show. We also poster around the city. During performances the producer can sit back and enjoy (Unless there are last minute issues to resolve)!

Who came up with the idea for the audience to tweet suggestions? How easy will this be to implement and how will you decide which ones will be used?

Lauren: It was something that was started last year and helped give our show a unique edge. Our tech team is really on it, they make it run smoothly. We added in a hashtag this year to streamline the process filtering suggestions, we take out anything inappropriate and feed the rest onto the tech team.

Rosie: It was used at last year’s Fringe and was an interesting and unique feature of the show, so we kept it. It depends what the suggestions are, but the players will do their best to create new games out of these ideas. It’s a really fun challenge.

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Craig Snowden (18) is a member of the technical genius behind The Improverts. Craig explains how the Tech Team keep up with the players and add to the hilarity.

How do you prepare for each performance?

A couple of nights before it’s preparing tracks for audience ins\outs and music that we can
use during the show. For ‘Oscar Winning Speech’ we use a lot of great movie music. It helps get the audience in the right mood for the show, but it doesn’t look too great when someone opens up my itunes! We work with the rig so all that stuff (lighting) is improvised.

What resources are available to you and how do you utilise them to maximise hilarity? .

Most of our resources are bits of software that have been created by past and previous imps tech members, like our projection and sound cues systems. We also like L.E.D lighting fixtures to give us a range if colour choices to create any mood that is called for on stage. A projector, sound desk, speakers, a bunch of laptops and a massive library of music and we’re good to go.

Any technical mishaps that have resulted in hilarity? Or is it all on purpose…

We were in the middle of the ‘Come with the Hour’ game. The players were in a hospital and they had to save themselves from a zombie apocalypse. In the middle of one the game, the lighting desk crashed so all of the lights went out. Thankfully, David saved us by saying the generator had crashed. It was totally on purpose…at least we tell ourselves that!

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Patrick Eccles-Williams (23) joined The Improverts after going to watch their show when he was in his first year at University. This year sees Patrick take the stage at The Edinburgh Fringe for the third time as part of The Improverts players.

What was the audition process like?

We all had to introduce ourselves and then we practised a couple of games. I’m not sure what made me stand out or even if I did stand out! What I do remember was that I was wearing quite a strange Christmas jumper and that in every scene I was unbelievably dry (far too much so).

How can you rehearse as an improvised production?

Rehearsals (or workshops as we call them) consist of us working on different techniques and then trying to implement those techniques by practising the games. During term time we have 2/3 workshops per week and they are essential to creating a good show. The idea is that you are so used to getting given different scenarios and suggestions that you can always create a decent scene.

What has been the most memorable audience suggestion?

That is a tough question because you become so immune to weird suggestions that they don’t really stick. Being on so late we do get a lot of suggestions that we would not have got five hours / pints earlier. The other night someone shouted out ‘black exploitation’ as an idea for a genre. I’m pretty sure that is not a genre and even if it is, it probably doesn’t lend itself too well to a light-hearted comedy show. So unsurprisingly we didn’t take that one.

An interesting suggestion we had a couple of months ago for a non-geographical location was ‘inside David Attenborough’s mind.’ However afterwards I realised that it was a friend of mine who had thought it up in advance, which is cheating / a bit sad really.

What is your personal favourite comeback/improvised reaction?

I had an excellent one at my first fringe a few years ago and it’s been pretty downhill since then. I have no idea what it was.

How has being involved in The Improverts effected your career decisions/personal skills?

It has made my career decisions an absolute nightmare as every day I to-and-fro in my mind about whether I want to pursue a career in performing or go for something more stable.

The Improverts are performing at The Edinburgh Fringe at The Bedlam Theatre until 24 August and will resume their weekly show during term time. Book tickets now to have the chance to join in the show that is let loose by spontaneity, wit and tweets! Keep up with the action by following The Improverts on Twitter.

 

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