Wednesday 25 January 2017

IMPRO Amsterdam 2017: Day 1: The Mondayening (part 1)

The performing part of the public festival started off with an open stage, where eager festival attendees can perform with each other and cast members. Unfortunately due to a scheduling conflict no cast members could be there, but 20+ eager improvisers of all levels from all corners of the globe did turn up. I made them play all those classic games you do when you start plus a couple of slightly harder ones which they all did with that spirit of fun that infuses much of improv.

Journey to the centre of the Earth.

You don’t really expect the first day of the festival to knock the ball out of the park, but there were a couple of moments where the ball got send way beyond the edge of the theatre and a metaphorical ballboy had to run off and get it.

The smoker takes it all... Gbgimpro sing "Smoking!" from the unmade musical "Smoking!"
Picnic Impro leave us speechless

In the first half, Each team got to show off what they do, that is what they will do in later shows. Well, kind of. The Swedes sang an amazing, stunningly-accurate high school musical song about smoking; the Dutch team (who actually don’t have their own show, but mix in with others) explored relationships at a typical Dutch celebration; the Portuguese performed a highly dramatic scene and then sang beautifully about it (in a classic Portuguese fado style); the Colombians told the story of 2 wrestlers coming together for a fight with no words, only phenomenal mime, clowning and acrobatics, aided by a sountrack. If I had to pick a highlight this would be it. Every now and again you see a set off skills on stage and you go to yourself, “I so wish I could do that.” This was such a moment for me.

Paul Dome reaches another
high point in his improv career
Team America are Big Bang (from Boston) who take the kinetic impulse and energy from the beginning of the universe and transfer it onto stage. They not only showcased their impressive brand of quick-fire, quick-change, energetic improv, but the also they threw in a rule whereby one of their players (Paul Dome) was not allowed to touch the floor for the entire set. What transpired was a hugely playful workout, not just for the other 2 players but also the audience who had to carry Paul all the way to the back of the room and back (to the front that is). In terms of committing whilst having fun with each other, they are a group hard to beat.

Because only half of the British duo was there, which is (2 multiplied by 1 over 2, carry the 1, round to the nearest decimal…) just 1; and Patti Stiles was there not with a team but with just herself (that's 1 minus 0 divided by 0, no that means there were an infinite number of Pattis); plus the Colombians had brought a Canadian to provide their soundtrack… these appeared together as The Commonwealth, which is the euphemistic title the British have for the collection of countries it obtained to enrich itself.

Patti and Charlotte get in deep.

Charlotte (UK) and Patti (CA/AU) played a scene inspired by music from Sarah Michaelson (aka DJ Mama Cutsworth, CA). This scene about a woman and her grown-up imaginary friend had that kind of genuine depth of exploration of what it is to be human you rarely find in an improv scene. Hell,you don't get it in movies enough. Again the poor ballboy had to run and fetch the ball.

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