This weeks show of the week is something very different to other musical improvisation shows that you may of seen. This show explores people’s dreams, to find out more about the set the guys have at The Miller on the 15th March, I caught up with James Witt who answered these sunbathing against the glorious setting of Thailand.
Hello James! Tell us about Dreamweaver Quartet who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
Dreamweaver Quartet are James Witt, Rhiannon Vivian, James Irving, Francesca Reid and Greg Birks. Directed by James Witt and Musical Direction by Fraser Parry. We began life at The Nursery Theatre as part of their autumn 2017 Nursery Originals season.
Dreamweaver Quartet is a musical exploration of the hidden meanings in our dreams and the unconscious workings of our psyches. Combining Jungian archetypes with populist dream readings. We take the dreams submitted by audience members and weave them into disjointed narratives set in surreal far off lands, where up is down and down is left. A sonically unique show Dreamweaver Quartet encompasses the work of more experimental musical theatre creators and is also concerned with making vocal landscapes. It is the home of the counterpoint and unusual harmonies.
How did you come up with the name of you troupe?
My long time improv collaborator Rhiannon Vivian suggested the name Quartet when we first decided to form a group with the five of us. We wanted a name that was incongruous, befitting and enigmatic. Incongruous because we really should be a Quintet, befitting because like a string quartet we focus a lot of our show creating harmonies with our contrasting vocal styles and enigmatic because we never make reference to the fact there are more than four of us (often six including our musical director Fraser Parry). For a brief time I wanted to call the group Dreamcatcher Quartet as I enjoyed the alliterative sibilance. But we were concerned about cultural appropriation and so we settled on my second suggestion Dreamweaver. I love the 1975 Prog Rock song Dreamweaver by Gary Wright and tonally it has the same psychedelic feel I envisioned for the show. It also encapsulates the concept brilliantly which involves taking disparate elements from various audience members dreams and weaving them into a (in)coherent (non)narrative.
Tell us a little bit about the show you are performing on this week?
This week at Hoopla Impro we are performing a full musical set of our show in which we will take audience members dreams and use them to inform a 40 minute long musical dreamscape. Support on Thursday comes in the shape of Shaken and Not Stirred (improvised James Bond) and quick-fire short form from Nu Z Land.
What sort of style Of improv does Dreamweaver Quartet do? Do you always do the same format?
We thought we’d created a new genre which ‘Musical Dreamprov’ but then North Coast came over from NYC recently and their show was quite similar. There’s also the wonderful group The Dreaming who utilise a similar non linear dream montage style to us. At the moment we are just focusing on this transcendental and surreal long form style of show. However we want to explore more traditional story structures later this year as part of Hoopla’s next new show season.
What’s the highlights of some of your previous shows?
A guy who’s dad bought him a giant spider for his birthday provided some rich material. But our favourite so far was the anxiety dream of audience member Bryn which featured singing pepperoni, two potatoes in live and a stand off with his employers Mr Marks, Mr Spencer and Mr And.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Twitter and Instagram
What do you think 2018 holds for the world of improv – what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?
I can see The Nursery continuing to innovate and really taking off with their forthcoming improvised Harry Potter show.
Hoopla going from strength to strength with all the improvements to the venue, in-House productions and our courses being so popular bringing hundreds of newcomers to the art form this year alone.
Moving into the mainstream even more with Showstopper and Austentatious’ monthly residencies in the West End.
And Finally – Why should people come and see you at Hoopla on Thursday the 15th of March?
We’re performing our first ever FREE gig to help generate more interest in our show alongside some great new talent. We promise a show like no other which will speak to a part of your brain not usually stimulated during waking hours.
In three words
Free Unique Harmonious
QUICK FIRE ROUND MUSIC DREAM EDITION
your favourite improvised song you have performed?
Has to be Sexy Jesus from Bryn’s dream in which Bryn receives a surprise visit from Christ and a passionate love affair begins.
Best dream you have ever had?
A few years ago I started taking Champix to quit smoking. Ever since then I’ve had the ability to lucid dream – which was the primary inspiration for this show.
Favourite song from a musical?
That’s a tough one as I trained in musical theatre and am a huge MT geek. Like many people I’m currently obsessed with Hamilton and so “My Shot” is sticking out but for the purposes of this interview and to tie in with the show I’d say “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha because our show is definitely Quixotic in nature. It also encapsulates our journey over the past year leaving one of the longest established groups on the UK scene (Music Box) and forming our own brand new group from scratch:
“To dream the impossible dream…
To run where the brave dare not go”
Your dream guest for Dreamweaver Quartet?
Josie Lawrence. She was an improv inspiration to us all growing up and she has a beautiful singing voice.
A dream you want to do a musical about?
Our audience continue to surprise us, but I guess it would be fun to do a dream in a specific musical style like Opera. We had discussed trying a show that’s completely sung through from beginning to end.
Your dream for where Dreamweaver Quartet will be in 5 years time?
Performing and teaching workshops at festivals across the globe including DCM in New York and Adelaide Fringe. A residency in a west end theatre supported by a full orchestra. Dream(weave) big!