Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: improv (Page 1 of 11)

the best improv fest

I know it hardly makes sense for me to be talking about the next best thing when the best thing of the moment hasn’t even started yet, but I have to. You see, although From Koe’siestes to Kniedlach hasn’t opened yet (it previews on Tuesday and Wednesday and opens on Thursday at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square this week), and that has been my main and most absorbing focus, once it is open I whizz back to Cape Town without a moment to catch my breath and start playing my heart out in ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv fest.

Starting on Monday 6 March, and with a different format every night until Saturday 11 March, this is the improv festival I cannot stop thinking about. The intimate Alexander Bar theatre hosts us each night at 7pm for an hour long exploration of on the spot creativity, team work, imagination and fun. Nothing thrills me more than a week of improv every night for almost a whole week. And I am playing with Cape Town’s finest improvisers and make-believers. The Alexander theatre is small, with only 42 seats a night, and the different formats we are playing are a combination of audience favourites and ‘brand-new-never-tried-before’. My old favourite is Documentary; a completely made up documentary (think fake news only much more creative) based on a few suggestions from the audience. The format I am the most excited to try out is Tribute, part documentary, part tribute show. We make up the band, the members, the people who influenced them, and then we sing their songs, based on titles given by the audience. There is also Naked Improv, Duos, Westword and Alexander Abbey (our nod to period drama). I am salivating.

Improv for my life

For those of you who know me you know that I love directing theatre, performing plays and writing them, but my big love, if I were forced to choose, is improvising. I am the happiest and luckiest when I am making things up, especially in front of an audience. I have been very clever about living my dream. For the past 24 years I have been doing this almost every week, in some form or another. I remember thinking, when I was in my 30s that there was an age limit to this form of play, but I haven’t stopped and I love it more all the time.

Last night we practiced a new format that we’ll be ‘premiering’ at ImproGuise‘s fifth annual improv festival (can you believe we have done 5 improv festivals?) that takes place at my favourite Alexander Bar from 6 to 11 March. This new format is called Tribute and how it works (kind of) is that the first half is the back story of the band or musicians we are paying tribute to, and the second half is the tribute band playing their songs. Everything is made up. For those of you who know me, singing is not a strong suit of mine, but I love it nonetheless, and I will be belting it out with the best of us. I cannot wait.

Every single of the five nights is a different format, and the Alexander Bar is teeny, so you should start booking for the ones you definitely want to see.

Also starting in March is our new Improv for Beginners training course. I haven’t been involved in the teaching or running of one of these for a bit, and this year Tandi Buchan and I will be doing it together. It is also another favourite thing of mine to do. If you are keen, please email Tandi on tandibuchan@gmail.com for info on dates, times and costs. This course will change how you do life, and it is for everybody, so come and play.

Confessions of a serial binger

It’s been a year since we decided, cricket and rugby notwithstanding, we were tired of spending huge chunks of money on DSTV every month and then sitting in front of the TV watching reruns of horrible British car shows, or Myth Busters from 10 years ago. We gave up the perverted addiction to Carte Blanche while we waited for the ‘premier’ Sunday night movie, only to discover it was an animation/sex comedy/something starring some Hollywood model/stunt man/comedian turned film star. And we haven’t looked back. In fact, I have watched more things on our giant monitor than ever before, and this time it has been completely my choice.

Netflix and Showmax have played their part, as well as watching whole series of other stuff. And there have been some pretty good ones. The range is exciting too, with tons of British stuff and even the occasional European thing to add to the general US TV production conveyor belt.

This weekend we binge watched two seasons of the most fabulous, Canadian, Schitt’s Creek. I had heard about it from a friend, forgotten about it, and then remembered the recommendation as we started watching. Schitt’s Creek is the brainchild of Eugene Levy and his real life son Dan Levy, who both star in it as father and son (and Eugene’s daughter is in it too) alongside Catherine O’ Hara (who I have totally adored since Beetlejuice, and then everything else she and Eugene have done – all the mockumentaries I believe in my soul I should have starred in), and the fabulous Annie Murphy, amongst others.

From the first set-up moment I started laughing at this deeply character driven comedy and I didn’t stop until the end. The episodes are really short (21 minutes) and the characters and their situations grow on you in the strangest and most delightful way. I can’t wait for more. The set-up is simple; a filthy rich, spoilt and entirely dysfunctional family lose everything and go and live (for reasons well explained) in Schitt’s Creek, a one street, hillbilly arse-end of the world town. Usually these kinds of spoilt, self obsessed indulgent and unaware characters piss me off in the first episode (with Shameless I didn’t make it through the first one), but here their charm is endearing and soon you are on their side.

There were a couple of moments that I laughed so hard I struggled to catch my breath. This is one of them. I am still laughing.

 

Improv Inspiration

Not that I need it, but yesterday is living proof that improv is the most extraordinary tool and philosophy in the corporate environment.

A few weeks ago I was approached by an international company who wanted to find out about the possibility of doing some industrial theatre at a conference. They had a product (a data system) that needed to be launched, and they wanted us to spice up the launch and make it fun and exciting. After a lovely chat, they were broad minded enough to consider my suggestion that we run an improv workshop/show shop with the delegates (instead of doing rehearsed sketches), and then pepper the presentation with some improvised interventions. (I must add here that the terrifying idea of trying to understand the product and then deliver accurate content around it was the main reason why I wanted to avoid writing a script and then rehearsing the stuff).

Only after I had sold the idea to them did I hear that there were going to be 200 delegates. 200! That is 200 people in a room, 10 at a table, 20 tables.

So when we (three veteran improvisers) arrived at the venue yesterday and started setting up while everyone was at lunch I felt like an imposter. How were we going to pull this off? I shouldn’t have worried. It was magnificent, and energising, and hilarious and potent and unbelievably barrier breaking. It worked. It was amazing. My fellow improvisers Tandi Buchan and Brett Anderson were superb, and we managed to change and charge the room.

Now this is all I want to do, for the rest of my life. So, if you need us, let me know. Send me a line on megan@improvision.co.za

 

An ImproGuise Letter

Many of you know me as an improviser. I have been improvising, teaching improv, and involved in all shapes and sizes of improv in Cape Town for close to 25 years. It is my first love. Our group was originally popularly known as TheatreSports, and then it became ImproGuise, and we are proud to call ourselves the longest running live show in South Africa. This letter that follows is a letter to all that know, love and support us.

A Letter from the Improguise improvisers

To all our fans, friends, supporters, patrons, reviewers, fellow improvisers, suggestion givers, audiences, and those who have laughed along with us for 23 years,

As you know, Improguise is Cape Town’s (and South Africa’s) longest running, most loved and creative improv company. We have been performing continuously in Cape Town and around the country for the last 23 years, bringing you our well known brand of TheatreSports, and introducing you to other fabulous improv formats; some that we learned from fellow improvisers across the globe, and some that we invented all by ourselves. We have entertained schools, corporates, performed at festivals and overseas improv celebrations, performed our own week long improv festivals, improv marathons and of course, carried on performing our weekly shows to our faithful audiences.

We think it’s time to start doing things differently.

We have gotten better and better and we want to be able to bring the best of what we do to different stages and audiences, new and old. So this is what we are going to be doing in order to change the way we bring improv to you. We have decided to focus on little runs of improv at various venues around Cape Town, and even South Africa, where we will focus on a particular style, or format of improv. Occasionally we have done these very successful improv shows in the past, and now it is going to be the way we move forward.

So, what’s up next? Where can you see us? On the 1, 2, and 3 of September we will be performing three nights of Word Play at The Alexander Bar. This is an exciting new format using words as improv inspiration. The Alexander Bar is an intimate venue with only 44 seats, so make sure you book soon, and online to get your booking discount.

Then, later on in October Improguise will be participating in the Mama City International Improv festival, that is being held in Cape Town, and the details are still being finalised for that.

We are in talks for a series of three shows in November in our old stomping ground in the Southern Peninsula, and will let you know about this the minute dates have firmed up. And we can announce that those dates have firmed up as 27, 28, 29 November at the Masque Theatre in Muizenberg

 

The best way to find out about where we are and what we’ll be doing is on social media. Check out our website www.improguise.co.za, like our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ImproGuise/, and follow our twitter account @ImproGuiseSA for all our latest news.

 

We want to continue to bring the best improv to you.

 

With much love and respect

 

The Improguise Guys

Tightrope

6a00d8341c61d153ef0115719b6255970bYesterday was a long, amazing, interesting and eye opening day for me in South Africa. The details were simple. On Thursday I flew up to Jozi, and then drove to Potch, where I spent the night, so that I could run an early morning improv session with participants in an advanced leadership programme for one of the mining companies. I love this work, and am deeply happy to have it. I am in my element working to teach the basic principles of improv to groups who have no experience of this way of thinking. Three hours of laughing, playing and creating later and they are a transformed team.

And yet, I sit with so much anxiety and reservation about the true voices in our country; the unspoken disbelief I see flash across black faces when white participants innocently and unconsciously make reference to ‘those people’ or ‘these people’ and say something so deeply racist my brain wants to explode. Or the vile and despicable white voice of complaint to the black serving woman in the airport business lounge, as if she has the power to improve the ridiculousness of a triple full lounge, plane delays and the lack of seating for her and her miserable partner. I sit with the frustration of the conversation I have with a man who was flying to Limpopo for voter registration weekend and when he hears that I live in Cape Town he tells me “ag, just ask your Zille,” “ask your DA,” assuming that script for me without even asking. I don’t blame him. He sees examples of that mentality all around him. I listen to the slightly louder voice of the white man when he talks to the brown air hostess. We have no idea what we sound like and it is deeply rude and embarrassing.

My big fear is that it is already too late to prove that we can be different. Why should anyone ever believe us? It is hard going. I am not going to stop making a noise, trying to make a difference. I will try in small and big ways.

On my way up to Jozi I sat next to a gorgeous woman. We didn’t speak until she saw me staring out the window in amazement at the beautiful cloud formations below us; we were flying above the clouds. And she turned to me, this stranger, and in a thickly isiXhosa accented English said, “Nature is so powerful and beautiful.” And in that tiny moment I felt hope.

 

 

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