Every week, we like to hear stories from Improvisers about how they got into Improv and what it has done for their lives. This week we hear from Geoffrey, who is part of the Newcastle based troupe Spontaneous Wrecks. His improv story didn’t properly begin until he left America and moved to Newcastle…
I’ve always liked performing for an audience. I find it was easier then being in front of people I already know like friends and family. With the improv scene in Newcastle I found that there are more and more supportive friends both on and off the stage. It’s those friendships and support that makes Newcastle special.
Before moving to the UK two of my friends and I signed up to an improv comedy course with a group called Possible Side Effects. Having done quite a bit of theatre in the past I thought this would be a great way to have fun. I was left disappointed however as this group stopped the course early and never let us do our performance at the end as they changed there mind when they got to be on a late night American talk show. My friends tried to get some people together to make our own group but that never really worked out. Looking back, that improv workshop was okay but the best was yet to come after I moved to England from the USA.
Jumping ahead many years later I find myself living the UK after following my heart. In 2005, after searching online to find improv classes in Newcastle, I came across The Suggestibles. I watched some clips of their performances and was so happy to see what I had been looking for. What’s better is they had workshops too. Yippee! So I signed up. Bev and Ian were so supportive and knowledgable. Not only had I replaced the fun I was looking for in the US, I had found something ten times better.
The first thing I can remember liking with these workshops was the magic of “again”. Where if you try something new and it doesn’t work you can just throw up your hands and shout “again”. Also I learned to take risks and build the stories by using “yes and” with my newly found friends. I learned from those first workshops that there were no limits to imagination with improv. Just having fun was the best part.
Every once in a while I got to have a go at performing in Rat Races. Never had I had such a supportive platform to perform. Yes it was technically a competition but it was so much full of silly that it didn’t matter. The only challenge was to remember to listen and not get carried away. I think I managed to do that occasionally.
One night I was at yet another one of Bev and Ian’s classes I got a call from my pregnant wife that are baby was coming. I raced off to meet my little boy for the first time and took a break from improv while I focused on being a Dad.
After a few years I wanted to pick up where I left off. This time I tried some improv workshops that Matt Selman was running. It was a nice change and I learned some fun ways to work as a group telling stories here. This is were I met some of my future Wrecks (Jon Farthing, Casey Railton and Daniel Goldstein) for the first time.
A few years later, Bev and Ian started running some workshops again that were tailored to different levels. I started doing these again and got a taste of long form improvisation.
Newcastle is fortunate to have a growing improv community and when some of my improv friends in these workshops and I started our own improv group, Spontaneous Wrecks, the idea was to just have fun and share the fun with the people of Newcastle.
The thing I love most about being part of Spontaneous Wrecks is that all of us just love to have fun and we support each other making us better improvisers.
Improv has taught me that the best performances are the ones that come from taking risks, supporting others onstage and having fun.