This month the Amsterdam Improv Marathon is being held on the 19th May and will run for 12 hours showcasing a whopping 40 acts that will perform improv in either English or Dutch! The event is held across two stages the ‘YES Stage’ which runs between the times 12-midnight with Six different blocks of shows and the ‘AND Stage’ which is open 2-22 and has 4 different blocks of shows. Over the next few weeks we will be interviewing some of the acts from the marathon to show you just some of the improv acts that are on offer.
We sat down with Bristol based Improv troupe Kitchen Rules Theatre to find out more about the set that they are bringing to the Marathon.
STAGE: The ‘AND’ Stage
TIME SLOT: 14:00 – 16:00
Hello Kitchen Rules Theatre! Tell us about your improv troupe!
Hey! We’re a pretty young troupe (not even one year old yet) made up of four improvisers who teach, produce and perform improv comedy drawing on the teachings of US schools such as iO/UCB that haven’t yet made the whole leap to the UK – especially Bristol. This is actually our first show together as just the four of us. We usually perform together with our Harold team The Inheritance and in various other Bristol teams.
How did you come up with the name of your troupe?
John G was reading Improv Nation by Sam Wasson (great book by the way) and mentioned the “Westminster Place Kitchen Rules”, which were the very first rules to improvisation, devised by Elaine May and Ted Flicker. Westminster Place was this house they were staying in, and they put down for the first time the three fundamental building blocks of improv. We’re a big fan of building on the work of the origins of improv, and we thought Kitchen Rules Theatre sounds cool too, the ideal combo. It also, like all improv naming events, took literally months longer than it should have.
Tell us a little bit about your style of improv?
Our style of improv focuses on being grounded, following the comedy, and having each other’s backs. That’s not to say we don’t go to crazy places, but when we do, we like to throw ourselves into them totally and find something real even in the most nonsensical. We support each players individual strengths and we take pride in accepting them and fully committing to our ideas, as crazy and ridiculous or grounded as they may be.
What will your set be about?
Don’t know yet, it’s improv! We don’t tend to perform premise heavy shows like “Improvised Fairytale”, we enjoy finding what the show is about after it starts, in front of the audience. We’ll be using the format 4-Track, as written in The Aerodynamics of Yes by Christian Capozzoli & Eliza Kingsbury, because we’re a foursome so it’s the perfect format for us! We also get to run around and do a lot of weird things between the grounded scenes, which we all enjoy.
What other acts are you looking forward to?
John G is also performing his One Board Man solo improv which we will obviously be front row and centre for, and we’ll probably be checking out Twinprov.
You are based in Bristol – it is such a vibrant city for improv – what makes Kitchen Rules Theatre stand out from the crowd?
Bristol’s got a phenomenal improvised theatre scene, with a history of improvised narrative shows and a growing one for musicals. A gap that we felt was improv comedy where comedy itself is respected as an artform. There’s often laughs in improv, but high quality comedy scenes tend to have a sketch line nature to them and we’ve been trying to push that, using pre-existing forms and teaching methods from schools like UCB, iO, Annoyance & Second City. With all that history and tradition behind us, we stand out by teaching tried and tested comedy methods that have proven results.
Tell us about some of your regular shows in Bristol?
We run two regular shows, the Improv Shit Show and Parent’s Basement. Please don’t censor “Shit” Show, we want to be very clear about what that show is. The Improv Shit Show is every fortnight and free. It’s designed for anyone who’s developing a show to go on stage and try it out in a low pressure, high support environment. It also comes with two jams, so even if you’re not on a team yet with a show you can get up on stage. Parent’s Basement is our monthly show where our house team performs an Armando inspired by a visiting stand-up, and our special guest headline teams from Bristol and the rest of the UK do their own set at the end.
A lot of people at the moment are trying to transition improv into video to post on social media channels – do you think this works for improv or do you think the art form is lost in the transition?
There’s definitely an ultimate “you had to be there” factor to watching an improv show, which is the same as any live performance art, however if you’ve got a strong game driven scene then it should still be funny. For us, we’d only be using improv in video to ultimately get people into the room, understand the techniques in classes and see examples of forms, but we’ve definitely seen some improv videos that have stood out, particularly UCBTNY cagematch performances on youtube.
What have been some of the most unique and different improv sets you have seen this year and why?
We were all involved in KRT’s first showcase event, performing a form called “The Impressionistic Horror” which used longform techniques to perform a non-comedic deconstruction of a newspaper article. It was a form invented in the 90s by Del Close & the Family and acted as a kind of showcase of the acting talents of our comedic performers, and to show how the techniques of longform comedy are not inherently limited to comedy. It was weird, we won’t be doing that for our show!
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We’re all over social media! We’re on Facebook as Kitchen Rules Theatre and on Twitter as @krtlongform. Plus our website, www.kitchenrulestheatre.tumblr.com!
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
It’s! Really! Fun!