Heather’s highlights of 2011

_ 1.       Osho Leela – This was our third year running our residential improv festival and the best yet.  5 days of Improv heaven hosted by The Maydays and Osho Leela. Apart from being immersed  in classes and shows, I love embracing my inner hippy. Veggie food and ‘Osho’ hugs are the order of the day. This year’s highlights in particular were being able to add improv on camera and Rachel Blackmans Body intelligence workshops to the calendar, doing a live internet radio broadcast and dusting off and performing the Improvability drive.

2.       The showcases  –  More courses than ever happened this year and I always really enjoy watching the end of term showcases that the students put on at the end of the show.  The Lewes Music showcase was pretty spectacular, especially during the Gospel number when Harvey got all the little old ladies in the audience singing along to the chorus, ‘Let’s say Fuck!’

3.       Improsium – This was the second Improv Symposium we have run in Edinburgh. After a looooong trip up the Scottish Capital in my flatmate Jessie’s campervan, Liz, Jen and I had a whistlestop trip to the festival, saw some amazing shows  (my favourite being Improvised Plays from Austin Texas) and hosted a panel talk at the Underbelly for all the Improvisers at the Festival. Our Fantastic guests were Nick Semar of Baby Wants Candy, Bron Edge of Comedysportz, Steve Roe of Hooplah and Pippa Evans of Showstopper and Fast and Loose.  Jules  and I also had fun stalking Phill Jupitus who promised he would come – we’ll get you next time Jupitus!

4.       Make-a-wish  Theatre Sports Cup – After openly slagging off competitive improv all year I am happy to eat my words and say that we had an absolute blast at the Spontaneity Shop’s 7th Annual Theatresports cup. Sometimes being down in Brighton it’s hard feeling so far away from the improv community so it was brilliant to pit our wits against London’s best and all for a good cause too. We came second in the end to short form maestros ‘Fat Kitten.’

5.       Team Matie – This year saw our first Improv Wedding! Matt and Katie Matheson who met on a Maydays beginners course tied the knot on  the 23rd of July and we were really honoured to do a show for them at their reception. Katie didn’t cry in the ceremony or during the speeches but she did have a good old blub when the rest of her and Matt’s troupe ‘Existential Pants’ joined us on stage and sang an Improvised song about their big day.

6.       Podcasting – I have discovered the joy of Podcasting with the genius of Joe Samuel my musical partner in crime.  You can listen on www.musicalimprovcomedy.co.uk   Feel like we have only just begun and looking forward to making more next year.  At the moment we are trying to convince our Dad’s to have a rap battle live on air. We may have to wait a while…

7.       Nottingham and the BBC – Following form our Podcasting, Joe and I were lucky enough to have two weekends away spreading the musical improv love. One weekend at the BBC Television centre thanks to Wanda ‘the biggest lungs in London’ Keenan which culminated in a musical about Pudsey Bear and the Taliban. The Second was in Nottingham where we ran workshops for MissImp and SIN. Big thanks to Lloydie for being a bloody brilliant host and for agreeing to be interviewed in a thoroughly gin sodden state. It also turns out that Nottingham  has the best North Indian restaurant EVER.

8.       Slapbash  – 2011 was a bit of a year of collaboration for us, meeting and working with more Troupes than ever before and the highlight of this for me was probably performing in Slapbash (the warm up for London’s Improv festival Slapdash) Lots of troupes who had never met before let alone performed together took the the stage of the Old Vic tunnels and made improve magic. There’s a little video here if you’ve got time http://youtu.be/4wOsKO9LtEU

9.       Hurst Fest and home shows – This was our first full year of 2 shows a month at our resident Brighton Theatre the Komedia and they just get more and more fun. All the audiences have been great and now thanks to Comedy Plaza we have some great footage too, some of which is up on our youtube channel.  It was also out first year of performing at Hurst Festival, so thanks to the people of Hurst for confessing to us!

10.   Delplanque – I think my personal highlight has to be the surprise return of Jason Delplanque, our South African ‘Awayday.’ John managed to keep it a secret that Jason would be ‘popping in’ to one of our rehearsals and when he walked in, I thought I was hallucinating! Alas we only had the pleasure for two weeks but it was good to know that group mind can remain even across continents.  Jason has now set up his own organisation ‘Improv Cape Town’ and we are all super proud of him.

Of course there are many more moments from shows and classes but with the chime of midnight tonight it’s time to let it all go and look forward to improvising more next year. What will 2012 bring? Thanks to Improv, it could be anything.

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