Thursday 30 January 2014

IMPRO Amsterdam 2014: Day 2

Photo by Tom Koelman.
The first show of the evening was Libby’s Friends, in which one half of the Rocket Sugar Factory, Mr Jim Libby (Mr Gar Factory himself), has created, with a selection of the festival players, a format new format. I hear its exciting and daunting. Which is what improvisers live for. Improvisers are like tight-rope walkers, but without the real dangers of tight-rope walking. And with the possibility to recover from falling from the tight-rope and turn the act into a falling from the tight-rope act. So, nothing like tight-rope walkers at all.

Typically the mixer formats at this festival are intricate and maze-like, this was splendid in its simplicity, but also nicely different in its presentation. Gets are obtained on the way in via walkie-talkie and given to the tech guy. During the show, as scenes start, the suggestion is projected above the players so they can choose to see it before they go on of after. What was nice about it was that there were lots of great physical beginnings, helped partly by the cast being full of physical players.

It was nice that these physical starts were allowed to general abstract scenes. I do tire of that type of improv where everything that happens is instantly and glibly justified, so scenes in the abstract realm are a welcome relief. However, abstract scenes can also be about something or become about something, and there were a few scenes that didn’t quite get there. But, as a premiere for a new format that had only a little time to be prepared, it was fine. The energy was great and there some gems in there.

Don't look now, it's the
Rocket Sugar Factory.
Photo by Tom Koelman
After the break, The Rocket Sugar Factory took off. The Rocket Sugar Factory are not unknown to me, I’ve seen this alliance of Canada and the US based in Austria a few times before. They don’t do disappointing.

This time, Mr Gar Factory and Rocket Su had a new format using the date of the performance and real historical events that fall upon it. As ever the duo’s ability to work together is tremendous. They set themselves challenges and they meet them. Not always without a struggle, but that’s how we know they are challenges. And the great thing about them is that they take their time with their scenes. I think they only did 4 scenes, but each was rich with environment, characters, relationships, and games. Splendid and inspiring stuff.

The Open Stage, of what I managed to see of it, was superbly well attended and ended with a musical which was pretty darn good considering the huge cast generally didn't know each other.

The late night entertainment was to go to a boat and get the drunker of the foreign guests to try and sing Dutch. Actually, being drunk helps.

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