This weeks act for show of the week is performing as part of the Winter Wonderland Night at The Nursery Theatre in London. The show takes place on the 12th of January and Swipe Right Impro are performing – I sat down with the troupe to find out more.
Hello Robin! Tell us all about your show and introduce us to your team!
So we’re called Swipe Right, and our show doesn’t involve any suggestions from the audience – they can just sit happily (hopefully!) in their seats and watch. We come on stage to a piece of music, unknown to us (but chosen by the person on the tech desk), which inspires us to make a location, which inspires characters, which inspire the scenes that follow. At the end of the show we return to that first location, and see what has changed in the time between.
The team is Carly, Kat, Katie, Robin and Rosie, and we’re just one of four acts on at The Nursery on Friday January 12 for our Winter Wonderland night. There’s also improv storytelling duo Derek’s Mojo, a new show from The Chandeliers (the team behind Crime Scene Improvisation), and a sample of Alex Lynch’s upcoming show for Vault Festival, Dead Air. There will also be a quiz and prizes, although that almost sounds like too much for one night!!
How did this show come about?
When we first started performing, we used monologues as inspirations for sets. Then, we decided we wanted to use music and we found our way to this. It was much more complicated to start with, and we whittled it down through suggestions from coaches (mostly Jules Munns and Kayleigh Cassidy) and sessions where we talked about what was and wasn’t working, what we wanted to get out of the opening and the edits, and how we wanted it all to look. We’re always looking for things to tweak or change, which is exciting. Improv’s never finished, is it? Which is neither bad nor good, just a reminder than nothing ever is, really, if you look at it from a certain point of view.
How did Swipe Right form?
Five of us – Kat, Katie, Robin, Rosie and Ben (who has since left) – met on courses at The Spontaneity Shop, then Rosie met Carly at The Nursery Wednesday drop-ins, and we coalesced from late 2015 because we wanted to do a similar kind of improv (which is, loosely but fundamentally, relationship-based and heartfelt with a bit of the surreal on top, and organic-leaning in style). We’ve been performing since early 2016.
Why the name Swipe Right?
Originally we were thinking about making a dating-inspired show, so that name was in the air, then we decided we liked it because it feels like another way of saying ‘yes, and’. So it’s a synonym for over-acceptance and committing to the moment. Very improv.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given about improv?
Carly: “My best improv advice is from Patti Stiles (via Keith Johnstone) about your job in a scene being to release your scene partner’s imagination.”
Kat: “I like Katy Schutte’s simple but very effective piece of advice: if you feel nervous, tell yourself it’s excitement.”
Katie: “Embrace your weird,” or words to that effect, directed towards me during a rehearsal with Jules. Essentially, go crazy if that’s what you want to do – let everyone else catch you.”
Robin: “‘Hold on tightly, let go lightly.’ Heard this in a class with Jules (he credited it to a person whose name escapes me, but I’ll correct this when it doesn’t) and I think it’s just lovely, both for dealing with conflicting realities in improv and for things that knock you off balance in everyday life. It pops into my head at least once a day.”
Rosie: “If you aren’t sure what is supposed to happen next, look into your partner’s eyes and they’ll tell you.”
What’s some of the highlights of past shows you have done?
Carly: “One show highlight was at Duck Duck Goose when I forgot the audience was there, which felt like a breakthrough because it meant I was totally immersed in the scene.”
Kat: “I enjoyed my scene at The Nursery with Robin and Katie being ‘human specimens’ behind bars – they’d been on stage a while and I led Carly on as if on a tour, explaining how the male hides his emotions etc. The scene didn’t start out making much sense but it was a nice example of how things can come together bit by bit in improv.”
Katie: “I was Rosie’s mum, and she was rebelling by being a goodie-two-shoes while I was angry that she wasn’t engaging in typical teen behaviour.”
Robin: “There was a set a while back in which my brain went on holiday and I called every single female character I met Susan. It’s a constant reminder to me to come up with interesting names. I’d also like to sneak in our first Friday night show at The Nursery. We were on the same bill as 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit and it was just insanely exciting and nerve-racking and he was incredibly nice.”
Rosie: “The concept of ‘death by underwire’ coming up during an unusually zany Launch Pad set at The Miller.”
What does 2018 hold for you guys?
Putting together a show that we can do for an hour would be good, plus more experiments with music, and figuring out how we can use tech in interesting ways. We had a teaching session on the tech desk at The Nursery with Jonah Fazel and it’s amazing the things you suddenly notice when you’ve sat on the other side of the desk. And putting on more nights, like Winter Wonderland, which we would be very pleased to see you at! That too.
What are your social media links?
How would you describe your show in three words?
Playful, connected, joyful.