Classic Andy Month – Meet The Improvisers – INTERVIEW – Julie Flower

It is Classic Andy Month on The  Phoenix Remix and we are not just giving you group interviews we are also giving you a proper introduction to each member of the troupe! Today we talk to member Julie Flower to find out all about her world of improv.

Julie FlowerHello Julie how long have you been improvising?
Just over four four years.

How did you get into improv?
I went along to a Keith Johnstone workshop with a colleague, not really knowing anything about improv and, after the initial surprise, never really looked back.  That led to a Spontaneity Shop course and then to the Hoopla performance course where I met most of the members of Classic Andy. It’s been a continuous cycle of learning and joy ever since!

What is your favourite style of improv and why?

I’m a fan of naturalistic, connected improv with very inventive and joyful support from others, as objects, sound effects, you name it.  Making discoveries and finding the joy, and often the game, is always a delight. Having said that, I’ve just come back from performing a lot of very fast-paced fairly premise-based improv with The Cutting Room in Edinburgh, which I very much enjoyed; my brain had quite a workout!

Who are your top 5 favourite improvisers and why?

Oh, to choose is way too hard.  Sometimes it depends what mood I’m in.  Here are a few favourites but this is in no way an exhaustive list:

+ Jill Bernard for being an awe-inspiring solo improviser and one of the most positive, insightful and self-effacing teachers I have ever met

+ Katie Schutte for her versatility and commitment to trying new things, as well as her continual promotion of the art of teaching and learning improv

+ Jason Shotts and Coleen Doyle for creating extraordinarily watchable and wonderful twoprov and being excellent teachers

+ Fena Ortalli for a quiet, understated and technically brilliant style and for being the kind of teacher who brings out the best in you almost without you realising it

What is your favourite warm up game?

Currently it’s ‘I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with…’  For instance, you’re thinking of land so you say ‘I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with band’ and then everyone has to give clues to their suggestion, which you then have to guess.  Such as ‘is it something that the desert is made of?’ and the reply is, ‘no, it’s not sand!’ Hours of fun and it makes everyone work their brains.

Favourite short form game?
I’m fond of pillars as it’s great to have to justify a strange non-sequitir.  I played it in performance in Folkestone with Sarah Davies and Jason Delplanque and children gave us the suggestions; it was lots of fun.

What are the three top tips anyone has ever taught you in improv?

Let yourself be changed by what the other person has just said to you.  I’ve heard that directly from Charna Halpern and, of course, others raised in the iO tradition and I think it is truly the basis of great improv.  It’s actually about genuinely listening and being open to new ideas; a useful philosophy for life more generally.

Find your boat (my thing, our thing and why). An insight from Jason Shotts that was really about establishing ‘our thing’ between two characters in a scene.  We each have ‘my thing’ but what is ‘our thing’ or ‘our boat’ and how can we use that to help us in our scenework?

Always look for opportunities to support. This is a lesson that I’ve learned from The Maydays, both individually and collectively.  I love the way in which they paint (and decorate!) scenes and support each other; a joy to be taught by and a joy to watch.  

In no more than 5 words, what advice would you give them?

Being human is infinitely watchable…and…make other people look good

What are some of your favourite new acts you have come across this year and why?

I have enjoyed a bit of international festival action this year so some of the acts I’ve really enjoyed have been Easylaughs in Amsterdam, The Tinderellas in Edinburgh and Seven Women of Different Ages from Poland.  In terms of actual new acts, I’m keen to see Improbotics develop their AI concept further; it’s intriguing and exciting.

How would you describe your personal sort of improv?

Naturalistic and grounded with a playful and inventive side.  I love finding the joy in relatively ordinary human situations.  And the greatest compliment is to be an improviser who ensures others feel safe and supported; that’s what I seek to achieve.  

Describe each Classic Andy member in one word

James I: playful

James H: reflective

Emma: joyful

Jen: comical

Jennifer: characterful

Britt: physical

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