With the 2010 Theatresports Finale on November 21st I caught up with KA team player Mike Bryant and asked him a few questions about the world of improvisation.
Q: How long have you done Impro?
A: This is my 7th year in the ensemble, or performing cast, of Impro Melbourne. But I started back in 1999 at Melbourne High School with a Theatresports competition which was part of the overall house competition.
Q: What attracted you to Impro?
A: I was heavily into drama at school and in year 9 we were bustled into the auditorium to watch the seniors (Year 11+12) play Theatresports. I was hooked instantly, I had no idea that this existed. They were hilarious and the games looked like so much fun to play that I auditioned for my house team the next year and got in.
Q: Where do you see it heading in the future in general?
A: As I’ve trained with the company I’ve come to see Impro as a fairly solid tool for creative work. What I learnt in school were a few Theatresports games that often had time limits and standard ways to play and be funny. I couldn’t of conceived that a decade later I’d be doing full length Improvised Musicals in the style of Lyricist Stephen Sondheim. I wouldn’t have though that instead of the often schizophrenic narrative of a 2 minute genre scene would be replaced by the ability to create Interesting and memorable narrative with sincere characters of whatever length.
I look overseas and see Improvisers working in comedy and drama and creating awesome shows on stage, TV and Film and wonder if we can make something awesome happen over here in those areas. I mean we do good stage stuff already but I’d like to aim for different media.
Q: Any career highlights?
A: Went to the U.S. and Canada in 2008 and got to perform/watch impro over there. Seattle has a really cool festival
that taught me a lot. Did some training in Edmonton and got to play a few shows in Austin, Texas. Good confidence builder all ’round and the Impro community is pretty welcoming for out-of-towners I find, made some good friends.
This year I also got to play in the national Impro competition, cryptically titled ‘The Nationals’. Hosted in Sydney and featuring teams from 5 states and 1 territory, we played to a few thousand people at the Enmore Theatre. But really it’s the hanging out and bonding for a few days before that’s the special part. Also had an awesome convention in Canberra that’s doing its part to help All the Impro Companies stay connected.
Q: Advice for people who want to try?
A: Take a class! Impro is not about being funny and you do not have to be a comedian to try it. A lot of people will watch a show and say “I could never do that.” Well you totally can, the basic skills that you’ll be taught will help you to play, and it is just play. You don’t have to get up on stage, you can just come along and learn how to play.
It’s a thrill coming into a scene or game with no idea of what’s going to happen but with the trust in yourself and your fellow players that something will.
Catch Mike at the Theatresports Finale: November 21st @ Theatreworks in St. Kilda. 14 Ackland Street.
Book online at: http://www.impromelbourne.com.au/shows/theatresports2010