I tend to enjoy the small moments of life more than the big moments, it’s in the small moments that I find genuine happiness. If I ever get to perform at sold out gig at the O2, I’d be most happy about the cheese and pickle sandwiches in the green room. For me Osho Leela is a sequence of small happy moments that knit themselves together to make one big happy feeling. While The Edinburgh Fringe shouts “EDINBURGH IS FUN, FUN, ISN’T IT? ISN’T IT? ARE YOU HAVING FUN???” until I feel sick, the Osho Leela festival has a peacefulness about it that enables me to see the joy and happiness that was there in the world all along.So here’s just some of my personal small happy moments:
Getting to share a room with Jason Blackwater and Jules Munns. I’m from Hoopla, Jason is from The Maydays, Jules is from The Nursery and The Maydays. On the internet and social media we end up looking like entirely different things, but actually we all know each other and play together, so it was nice to also sleep in our boxer shorts together.
Getting taught by John Cremer in a small room. John was the first person that ever taught me improv, and it’s amazing that he’s never lost touch with what he originally found fun about it. Whenever I do a workshop with him I’m back where I started, which is a good thing, and back improvising in the moment instead of carrying out a hidden procedure or technique.
Mistakes workshop. I really enjoyed this, at the moment I’m a big fan of improv being as spontaneous as possible without any worrying about technique or structure or rules or anything. There was one of the funniest games of Pan Left I’ve ever seen in this workshop, it had about 120 mistakes in it (that’s not an exaggeration) and it was hilarious because of the spirit of the improvisers, the carefree reckless play, the not worrying about structure or technique or judgement or criticism. We often say in improv “say the first thing that comes to you” and “don’t think” so it was nice to see this in action and performed so bravely by the improvisers.
Talking to Alex Fradera about Masks and everything. The great thing about Osho is that I get to talk to people for longer and get to know them better, and find out how much we have in common.
Having lunch with Katy and Heather. I spend ages working on improv things and teaching but get a bit lonely sometimes, but having lunch with these two they felt like my improv sisters!
Talking about Clowning in communal showers, unusual conversation to have while naked.
Groups turning up warmed up and automatically arranging themselves in circles. When teaching in London on weeknights I sometimes wonder what’s wrong at first, and then I realise that everyone is exhausted from working all week and need warm ups to get them going. At Osho everyone arrives to every workshop zinging with energy and automatically put themselves in a circle ready to go, which is amazingly energising for me and the whole team.
Most of all the people. The best thing about Osho for me is being able to genuniely get to know the people in improv, without having to rush off to catch tubes or put up posters or run to another show or get a night bus.As improv has got bigger around the world and in this country there has also been a corresponding growth in the numbers of companies, venues, websites, logos, facebook pages, twitter feeds, books, blogs, techniques, shows, groups, nights, pdfs, teachers, courses, gurus, classes, google ads, press listings, festivals, new books, guest teachers, schools of thought and branded hoodies. If we’re not careful we end up thinking that all that ‘stuff’ is what improv is. But it isn’t what improv is, it’s just ‘stuff’. The stuff has popped up to enable the growth of improv, which is a good thing.
The improv is the people. That’s it. Going on stage with another person, and creating something together right there and then which wouldn’t exist if you hadn’t been there. That will never stop being beautiful to me.
If we can’t go on stage and play together because one person is wearing a UCB hoodie and the other person is Keith Johnstone’s best friend then we have completely lost the reason we got into improv in the first place.
It’s the people. And festivals like Osho Leela help improvisers to break down trivial barriers and find the warm beating hearts beneath.