With the new year among us here at The Phoenix Remix we like to introduce you to shows that you must watch in 2018. Today we speak to Ed all about his show Yes Land as this year sets to make the show even bigger then 2017.
Hello Ed! So 2017 has been a big year Yes Land! Tell us how did the show come about?
The name of the show came about first, funnily enough. I was having a bit of a daydream in The Miller and I found myself looking at those illuminated letters spelling “YES AND”, and it just kind of came to me. I thought it would be a great name for a show, especially for a Jam, so I sent a message to Steve Roe saying “if you guys ever run jams again, you should totally call it Yes Land”. Because I kind of think that sums up Hoopla for me. Above all else, it’s a land of “yes we can”, even more so than many other improv companies. And then Steve mentioned that he was looking for Hoopla to do more jams and I immediately signed up.
I volunteered to run the thing and organise it under the Hoopla banner. The jams Steve used to run were so instrumental to my early improv experience and I wanted to create a similar environment, where people could try improv with no judgement and cut their teeth. I think that’s really important when you’re learning improv to have that safe space to just try stuff, and I think it can really help bridge that gap between when you finish training on a course and forming a group.
What’s been some of the highlights of the show for 2017?
Highlights… on the first show, I left time to do a game of “three-headed expert”, where I was planning on interviewing three improvisers as one character, but we had so many people sign up, I decided on the fly to host a debate between two three-headed experts, one speaking one-word-at-a-time, the other simultaneously. It was insanely fun and it was unexpected for everyone involved in that magical way.
In fact, I love challenging the jammers to something they think will be difficult, and then they just crush. Last week, the jammers played a game of Genre Rollercoaster, which is a little advanced for newcomers, but it was definitely a highlight.
I’ve really enjoyed that some people have come back for more, as well. That’s very validating. Now they just need to bring their friends!
The improv scene in London is predominantly made up of long form troupes and shows – it must be refreshing bringing a show that brings back the original format?
Yeah! Short form games are a laugh, and there are a bunch of brilliant jams in London, but not a lot of them use short form games. That was something Steve and I both wanted to provide in Yes Land. We learn a lot of improv through short form games and exercises, and I think they can feel safer if you are new to improv and have done plenty of said exercises but not actually performed as a team or anything. And they are really fun. I realised I wanted to dedicate myself to improv after playing New Choice in a Hoopla Jam. I just had the best time.
If Yes Land can provide that same safe environment to have fun and to learn to love performing, then mission accomplished.
And we often finish the show with some basic scenes, and it’s funny the way that you can see the work done in the short form stuff pay if within those scenes. It’s what they were designed for, after all!
If people want to get involved with the show how do they go about it? Do you have to be an improviser to get involved?
Just come to the show! There is absolutely no experience or prior relationship required AT ALL to take part at Yes Land. It’s a safe space to try improv for the 1st or 1000th time.
You don’t even need to be an improviser. We also offer regular opportunities for people to have a go at roles behind the scenes as well (e.g. being tech improvisers, co-hosting, taking show photographs, organising the show line up), which were all things I just tried to learn as I went along when hosting shows with Giggle Loop. But if people want to try out those skills or receive advice or practice so they can apply it to their own show, they are welcome to try those out at Yes Land, too. To take part on that side, they just need to drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or respond to one of our Facebook posts.
What are the plans for Yes Land in 2018?
I’m thrilled to say that Hoopla will be hosting jams every single Wednesday in 2018 and that approximately half of them will be Yes Land shows. Starting January 17th, Yes Land will be happening every fortnight on Wednesday nights.
So expansion! And regularity! I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be so much fun 🙂
What does the year of 2018 hold for the improv community what do you think will be big changes that will alter improv for 2019?<<<<<<<<<<
a big question. I was actually speaking to someone about this earlier today. London feels very much like fertile ground for something very new and exciting in the very near future! More theatres are popping up, more west end shows, ever increasing numbers of groups, performers, courses and festivals. Maybe we are on the verge of a turning point. But I’ll be damned if I know what that will be! On a personal level, I’ve enjoyed seeing groups that really raise their game with production value, lately.
There’s nothing wrong with four people in flannel shirts doing scenes, but groups like Jack Left Town and Project 2 have really opened my eyes to the effect that an attention to production value can bring. And I think it makes the show more accessible to a non-improviser audience. Because it’s no secret that the primary audience for improv shows are other improvisers, but If the London scene can create more groups with an attention to production value, I think we’ll see more organic non-improviser audiences.
QUICK FIRE ROUND< strong>* What’s your New Years resolution for 2018?<<<<<<<<<<
cut back on the alcohol. It’s my post-show reward at the minute, but I might just save it for special occasions. And I want to keep up the exercise and healthy eating.
* What act are you looking forward to seeing this year?<<<<<<<<<<
rementioned Jack Left Town for the first time this year. I definitely want to catch their show again.
* Who would you like to collaborate on a show with this year and why?<<<<<<<<<<
Minus this year. We made up our own format, and now that we’ve tweaked that through shows, the cast and I are going to go in to rehearsals and really raise the bar. And I love working with those guys. It’s a real treat to play with them. Plus, I’m working on a couple of other collaborations with new people that will be awesome fun!
* In three words what do you wish 2018 does for you?<<<<<<<<<<
* Where do you see your show in a years time?<<<<<<<<<<
me, I would love to see Yes Land become a go-to spot for people that are in-training or have just finished a course. I think it’s really effective when improvisers get to apply what they have learned while they are learning it, and not just in classes and workshops, but in front of an audience. It’s honestly got nothing to do with me, though. I want to provide the same opportunities that I was given because had they not been there, I wouldn’t have discovered that I was allowed to do Improv. As Terry Pratchett used to say, I thought this was something that happened to other people.