This week there is a improv show with a difference and is all based around the idealogoy of dreams. I sat down with Dreamweaver Quartet member and Director James Witt to find out all about the show coming to the Hoopla Impro at the Miller on June 9th to find out more…
Hello James tell us 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.
Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening this week?
The entire audience submit slips of paper with a one sentence summary of their strangest ever dreams on. We get the audience to collectively decide which one they wish to hear more about / see bought to life on stage.
We then invite the dreamer on stage and ask them for more details about their dream and waking life.
We then weave this information into a 40 minute musical.
What sort of style of shows can people expect?
Our audiences have frequently complimented us on our show for being totally unique. In “technical” improv language I guess it’s freeform organic long-form. But I like to call it the Dreamsical Format. We don’t follow any structures or have any pre-planned beats except for the beginning and end which is based on a traditional lullaby.
Your show is all about dreams – what are some of the craziest ones that you have had as suggestions for your sets?
Lucy had a pinkie toe that was as big as their head. Chris cried so many tears it submerged their kitchen in water and they grew gills to evolve. Sten was snorting cocaine with the Estonian prime minister and a mountain range began to consume the earth. Sam dreamt he went to a rock opera at a stadium and his iPhone screen was being mirrored on stage.
How did the concept of your show come about?
A combination of my love of dream analysis with my love of freeform improv musicals. We’d grown weary of following structures with Music Box, this seemed like the perfect format to cast off those shackles.
Do you have to do any rituals or routines you do before a show?
I save up the unused dreams from the previous shows and we riff off the themes contained in these as part of our warm up. Both verbally with Genre Cauldron / free association and making up songs inspired by these
You are in quite a few musical troupes – what are some of your favourites on the scene that you are not a part of?
U.S. troupe Baby Wants Candy have the anarchic and freeform style we most connect to. In the U.K. it has to be Showstopper as they’ve really raised the profile of musical improv as a respected art form with their trademark polish and pizazz.
What’s the highlights of some of your previous shows that you have performed?
In the final act of the Estonian President show we sang an epic and dramatic song about the sentient Mountain swallowing the earth. The harmonies and passion were exquisite. I was a very happy director and cast member that night!
Some acts have already tried it and done shows in the environment but Do You think virtual reality has a space to be used in improv and what other modern technologies do you think could alter the way we interact and watch improv?
Yes we would love to try this. I think our format would work really well in virtual reality because it has that ‘Inception’ feel. We aim to really get inside people’s heads – what better way than with VR.
What have been some of the most unique and different comedy sets you have seen this year and why?
Elf Lyons 2017 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated show Swan was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. My ribs ached and I fell off my chair at one point. It’s a post modern clown show where she recreates Swan Lake using a parrot costume and pigeon French, all with a meta-theatrical twist.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
What are some of the shows that you guys have coming up for the rest of the year?
14th of September
28th of September
27th of October
17th of November
1st of December
26th of January
9th of February
2nd of March
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Unique, Esoteric, Harmonious
QUICK FIRE ROUND
If you could buy any type of food (right now) what would you buy?
What is one of the things you would put on your “bucket” list?
To fly in a helicopter from Vegas into the Grand Canyon.
Who do you admire the most and why?
Tina Fey. 30 Rock was a masterpiece, Bossypants spoke to me like no other book and whenever she appears on SNL she elevates it to another dimension of comedic brilliance. Most recently as the inbred auntie in their Royal wedding sketch.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Passionate. Empathetic. Filterless.
When I dance, I look like…?
Homer Simpson doing ballet.
What is your favorite T.V. channel?
Hmmm this is tricky because my two guiltiest tv pleasures are Neighbours and Big Brother, which are now on Channel 5. But they started out on BBC1 and Channel 4, which historically have produced many other programmes I love like Father Ted, Whose Line is it Anyway, Doctor Who, French and Saunders and my current favourite The Windsors.
If you could get a yacht what would you call it?
After my late mother, Barbara Ann, who loved family history, always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and gave me unconditional love. We also have a family connection to boats on my mum’s side of the family (in Southampton and Liverpool docks). My maternal grandfather was entertainments manager on several cruise ships including the original QE2 and Oriana and my Nanny Peg’s father, John Pearse, was the pastry chef onboard the RMS Carpathia when they rescued survivors of the Titanic.
What TV sitcom family would you be a member of?
I remember making my family watch The Royle Family for the first time in my Christmas holidays from uni in 1998 and we all howled with laughter at his similar we were. We even share the same names within the immediate family Jim, Barb, Dave and Anthony. My sister is Denise to a tee. But these days I’m a bit more aspirational and active, plus the family has grown and branched off. So I’d say the Mitchell-Pritchett’s from Modern Family. I’m definitely Cameron and my husband is Mitch.
Last item you purchased?
I’m not very materialistic or one for possessions. I really recommend James Wallman’s book Stuffocation on a further exploration of this. I prefer to spend money on experiences and holidays. I’m writing this from a villa in the Andalusian mountains, Spain. I just purchased a massage on the terrace of our villa. It was divine.
If you could win any award what would it be, why?
It would have to be an Oscar. It’s the holy grail of acting awards. Even though it’s clearly rigged and infuriatingly biased towards certain studios or types of film – it really would be a dream come true. I’ve always stayed up all night to watch the ceremony and used to host parties with syndicates and prizes while at uni. I’d definitely use my speech to make some kind of passionate political point and have to be played then dragged off! My favourite ever Oscars speech was Roberto Benigni’s for Life is Beautiful. (Which is also one of my favourite ever movies).
Categories: Improv, Interview, Show of the Week
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