There’s no new episode of the Improv London podcast this week, so I’m taking the opportunity to talk about a classic episode instead: Michael Such.
It was my interview with Michael that convinced me that the Improv London podcast could really work. The first episode with Steve Roe was a guaranteed success, the second episode I recorded with Stephen Davidson and Christel Chaudet, both of whom I knew well. But in Michael’s case, we’d only met once on a Hoopla Improvised Rap course run by Dave Waller. Here’s Dave in action:
During the course, Michael had made reference to ‘story gaming’ which is a subset of roleplaying games with which I had some familiarity. Indeed, tabletop roleplaying was my way into improv.
I had been playing a two-year long campaign of Call of Cthulhu, with some people who were so good at making stuff up on the spot that if I didn’t already like them so much I could easily hate them. I decided to get some training, which inspired me to take my first Hoopla Beginners course.
Just as there are many ways to improvise, there are many ways to roleplay. I think there’s much crossover between improv and roleplaying games, so I was delighted to explore this with Michael. Both art forms can learn much from each other.
Since appearing on the Improv London podcast – though I’m not saying it’s a consequence of – Michael has teamed up with Lizzy Mace to form Two of Wands. I saw the duo perform at a Hoopla Launch Pad recently. I loved so many things about their performance including:
- the fact that they didn’t restrict themselves to the stage;
- the way they seemed to mix poetry and prose during the performance;
- the way it felt as if anything could happen at any moment, yet it never felt random;
- a fellow improviser whispered to me during the performance ‘Are they really making all of this up?’ Which is always a good sign.
Later I discovered the structural inspiration:
I’ve played Archipelago and while it didn’t resemble Two of Wands’ performance it was a lot of fun, and this knowledge has made me want to watch the performance I witnessed at Launch Pad all over again, but of course due to the ethereal nature of improv, I never can…
There recordings cannot live up to the majesty of seeing Two of Wands perform live, but we should treasure them for they are all we have… memories of fragments of a dream.
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