Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: impro

A litany of Thank Yous

And I don’t mean it in the Ozzie “How youse doing?” kind of way. I am just over 24 hours away from making the long trek home to the loving arms of Big Friendly, the warmness of good friends and family, the complicated heart pullings of a home city and country that inspires, frustrates, irritates, placates, enrages and draws me, and my life that I left behind. Before I get swallowed and absorbed by the many daily things that swamp a life back home I wanted to reflect on the people that have made this most extraordinary journey what it has been for me. Be warned. It is a long list (and if you are not on it, it doesn’t mean I don’t adore and value you passionately.)

First up I want to name and honour my guy, Big Friendly. I have been loved and supported in every possible way by him, and he made this whole trip possible. He is what makes me a lucky fish. Big Friendly, it has been far too long without you, my hero, friend, confidante, go-to-guy and home-fires-burning partner. Next time we go together.

I want to honour and love my amazing fellow travelers Tandi Buchan and Candice D’Arcy. With them we were the magical Team SA, and we achieved the improv version of Olympic Gold for ourselves. We shared a room at the YHA during Improvention, we shared a room at Patti’s house, and Candice and I shared a room at cousin Nicky. Intense. We played, ran workshops, partied, supported, nit picked, discussed, laughed, jolled, and had the absolute best time ever, and I am so happy we shared it. Magical Moments with Benny the buck toothed Koala, jumping photographs, fetta (that’s how they spell it here in Oz) pies, karaoke (shits me up the wall), excellent improv and the making and sharing of other magnificent new friends. It deserves to be said that doing a trip like this is outrageously expensive and taxing; particularly for these two travelers who had children at home, and I want to say bravo to both of them. We have tons of thrilling work ahead, putting into practice everything we got madly excited by.

The organisers, makers and doers of Improvention are next up. What a phenomenon. Nick Byrne, I have no idea how you got us there, three unknown Seffefrican improvisers on a mission, and you will always be my hero for doing so. Improvention was completely awesome, necessary, amazing, inspiring and wild. Ben Crowley and Cathy Hagarthy, organisers, improvisers, home-sharers, lift-givers, and all round amazingnesses you made us feel welcome so comfortable even though we were jet lagged zombies without a clue, and you both had fifty million things to do. The rest of you Improvention organiser type peeps like Reid, Kathy, Brad, PJ and all the others I haven’t mentioned, I know what you did. And thank you. Thank you performers, workshop leaders and directors. I watched, played, workshopped, slept, ate and loved impro(v) all over again, and more. Last on this list is Chris Allen, who was responsible for Mission Roo, and who completely fulfilled this quest, in style. The reality is, if it wasn’t for Improvention, we wouldn’t have come, and my love affair with Oz would never have happened.

Then it was Melbourne and her magic. Patti Stiles; guru, inspiration, hilariousness, fire maker, bird feeder, Quokka hostess, home supplier, map drawer, advice giver, story teller, love machine, music sharer, tour organiser, and all round most amazing. There are no words to thank you enough. I miss you like an oldest friend. Impro Melbourne; you guys, the whole lot of you are possibly my favourite people on earth. Thank you ALL for love, sharing, lifts (David and Kevin and Katherine and Caitlin more especially), partying, eating and drinking, workshopping, and for Exploding Heads (Myron and Josh in particular) for letting us play with you. Thanks Impro Melbourne for letting us do Jill Bernard workshops with you all, and allowing the Improvention festival continue.

Jill and Eric I love you both so much. You were the perfect traveling hook ups and you were best fun, big chats, total hilariousness, tea (Eric) obsessed, gung-ho, crazy, kind, brilliant, silly, dingo-loving partners in Oz travelingness. Here’s the thing; I have a very good idea of all things Austin, Texas, and no clue about Minnesota. I love your improv, your energy and your insights. Thanks for the big, fat share.

My Sydney week has other special thank yous attached. First up, Ange Hume, for taking in a complete stranger. Thank you most gracious lady. To old friend Heather and even very old friend Jenny; it was amazing reconnecting with you, however brief, and I am sorry we didn’t get to do it again. Next time? I can’t imagine not coming back. The biggest, most loving and delicious thanks goes to The Segerman fandamily for unbridled hospitality – Oz style. Every last thing; delicious food, lifts, tour guidage, amazing open house, smoked fish, fabulous stories, Madiba’s birthday, Celebrity TheatreSports, an amazing massage, gorgeous, warm, loving children and sharing your new home in the best, clearest, warmest way. I love you. But, let’s get down to brass tacks, or salted caramel. I owe you my best gelato experience ever. And that is totally huge. My life is changed by Gelato Messina, in both a good way (best ever) and bad way (there is none where I come from).

Maleny, you are so magnificent. B and R I often felt like you guys were living where I should be. Thank you for sharing that. It was profound.

And now, as I sit and write this in Brissie, on my last full day here in Oz, I thank Wade Robinson and Suzie and Chloe, for taking me in at such short notice and being such gracious, open and delightful hosts. Improvisers of Oz, you are a very special kind of loving somebody. And I love you all right back.


Jill Bernard’s Drum Machine

I am still trying to get my head around a one person impro show, aside from the fact that it was a musical, set on the night of the storming of the Bastille, with five main characters and a moving death and moral message. Yes, this is what I was witness to last night here in Sydney. I was mesmerised, moved and amazed by Jill Bernard performing her one woman (+muso) Drum Machine, and I was once again completely blown away by the (it says so on the poster) USA queen of impro.

Imagine 45 minutes of impro performed by one person. A complete story, with characters, and many and varied songs. With rhyme. And a moral. And hilariousness. I have never seen anything quite like it. What a treat to be able to have witnessed this, amongst the many and varied other impro magic I have seen and participated in.

Jill Bernard, you are my USA Queen of impro.

Melbourne Magic

I have been delighting in the combination of being a tourist, living in Patti Stiles‘ house and having her amazing generosity and insight about what we should do and see, and the whelmingly loving arms and cars and spirits of the Melbourne impro community. It makes reflection quite difficult because we are living so actively, and although I have a million thoughts and impressions pounding through my brain I can’t seem to concentrate for five minutes to put it all down. Enter iPad? (A different discussion)

Melbourne felt like a kind of home after just one day. Its sights are strangely familiar; I keep thinking of Australian Master Chef every time we go somewhere to eat, and I am often reminded of how much like Cape Town it is. It is winter green like home, with the real gum trees (as opposed to our Australian versions) and it sounds the same somehow, except for the birds.

Wow, the birds. I fed magpies yesterday. The female took meat covered with insect dust (Patti gets it from the vet specially) out of my fingers! This morning the white cheeks were waiting for their seed. Every time I see a Gallah with their perfect combination of pink and grey I am breathless. And a flock of the big white cockatoos is hilarious. Not to mention the bizarre sounding Kookaburra.

Melbourne is coffee city, starting at Patti’s house and then in every cafe and eatery. Big Friendly would be very, very happy with the standard and quality of it. Melbourne is also trendy, quaint, easy to learn, accessible, sexy and fashionable. Like Cape Town, only not.

Seeing a city with a group of newly made local friends and other visitors has been a great way to do it. We have moved like a pack in a very organic way, and this has meant mixing most meaningful improv workshops (thank you magnificent  Jill Bernard), a performance with cheeky young impro group Exploding Heads last night, getting to do must-see tourist stuff like the Great Ocean Road and Healesville Sanctuary (Koalas, Wombats, Tasmanian Devils, giant bats, Wallaby, bird show, Quokkas and more), shopping, eating and even being very silly at karaoke.

Tandi left in the early hours of this morning and I am a lone traveller briefly today, until I catch up with Candice again later. I am taking my time this morning, since we didn’t get much sleep, and then I will catch the train into the city. To be honest, that gives me the most joy; I get excited every time I use efficient, safe public transport. Melbourne this might be the beginning of a little love affair. Are you my Australian City? We fly to Sydney tomorrow, which is a whole new exciting thing to look forward to. In the meantime, thank you Melbourne friends.

Impro Junkies

So last night I jumped from performing a Maestro (which I completely loved) straight into a wild, huge cast for an I Jump You Jump (which was insane and enormous Jill Bernard fun fest). Two chances to perform on the same night! I was so very, completely happy.

Jamie Robertson, who played with us in Cape Town in our early days, arrived from Melbourne yesterday, and it was great to see him, off stage and on. He had his appendix eaten out of him by a monkey puppet doctor. All in a day’s work.

Suddenly it feels like Improvention is hurtling towards its inevitable end and I am already starting to panic. This is what happens when you live, breathe sleep, speak and play impro for a week.

Today I am doing a Giving and Receiving Notes workshop with impro guru Patti Stiles. She really is the most loved woman in impro and people walk around with Patti Stiles smiles. Then, tonight I am going to be performing in Locker Room, a format that we explored in Glenn Hall’s workshop. I’ll probably write about how they were tomorrow.

We hold our final workshop tomorrow morning. I can’t believe it.

Words, Inspiration, Magic at Improvention

Yesterday was inspiration day. It started with me attending Tim Redmond’s workshop Words, Words, Beautiful Words. Essentially, it was an impro workshop using books and authors as inspiration and reference to create, colour, inform and even base scenes and formats on. It was pretty mind boggling for me and I was reminded of that crazy head opening feeling of a class at drama school. I loved the work; mainly watching others make interesting choices. I felt I had passionately over committed to my chosen book and author, which left me waging a war of honour on their behalf. I think I might have had more crazy fun if I had held them a little less preciously, and that’s what’s so hard about trying to fit all this stuff into a 3 hour workshop.

One of the best things about being in a workshop environment is watching others work, both at facilitating and participating. It’s a very levelling experience, and it reinforces all the philosophies of impro. Omigodz I’ve become an impro evangelist. Not like I wasn’t before, only now I have no idea who I am going to do all this stuff to, with and for when I get home.

Then, we saw two great formats of impro shows. First up was Sink or Swim, in which four pairs play out scenes. At the end of the first round of scenes the players pitch what could happen in a future scene and the audience votes to lose one of the pairs. So on, until the last pair’s resolution happens, with the help of the others. Last night’s swimmers were the Austenesque Matilda and Flora and the intimate details of their period lives (although I so badly wanted to see the stalked backpacker and her German friend in six different countries).

After interval we saw show from nothing. Exactly that; a few random scenes, some following on, some not, to build an evening of magnificent impro entertainment. I loved it. I loved the scenes with poor Martin, and his crazy wife, friend and boss. I loved the weird dance scene between the two French crazies. And I loved the relationship and marriage scenes that were played out by Sophia the messenger.

Once again this week I have been delighted, inspired, challenged and made so jealous. I love this shit.

Short and Sweet

Read My Lips

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