This week we are heading all the way to Nottingham for a very special show of the week – this is not just any show this is one that celebrates 20 years of MissImp. There is so much happening and we wanted to get the inside scoop. I caught up with Emily Brady to find out all about the festivities.
Hello Emily tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?
Hello! I’m one of the people who runs an improv organisation in Nottingham called MissImp – we’ve been going for twenty years this month and so are having a massive blow-out weekend of celebrations! We’re all about getting people involved with improv at any level– from drop-ins, to shows, to dedicated house teams with different styles!
How did MissImp form?
MissImp formed in 1998 with the name Mission: Improbable under the guidance of local writer and performer Andy Barrett as a Nottingham County Council Next Stage project. Our first ever show was at the Malt Cross, followed by performances in pubs, clubs and nearby arts festivals. In 2005 we established our weekly drop-in (which has run on a Thursday ever since) at the Nottingham Arts Theatre. Since then we have been all over the shop – from the Glee Club to the Nottingham Playhouse!
20 years of MissImp!! What are you guys doing to celebrate such a big occasion?
Well! We’ve got a whole weekend of events planned, including jams, workshops, and shows! We want to celebrate everything and everyone who has helped us get so far, and also show off all of the incredible improv talent in Nottingham! We’re using both the Malt Cross and the Nottingham Playhouse to host a whole series of events.
Tell us a little bit about the shows that are happening are week?
Our opening night is where it all began – at the Malt Cross, which we are taking over for the evening! On Thursday the 18th of October the original Mission Improbable cast will reunite on stage exactly 20 years after they first did, which is going to be amazing! We’ll also have an open jam and performances from members of the community!
Then on Friday night we have our first night at the Nottingham Playhouse, where our two house teams The Vortex and The Vox Pops are on the bill! The Vortex are the Midlands’ only all-women Harold team, and will make up a play right on the spot inspired by the audience! The Vox Pops make up hilarious sketches inspired by true stories from their special guest monologist – this time it’s Nottingham icon Annie from Annie’s Burger Shack!
Then on Saturday night we’ve got Rhymes Against Humanity making up an entire musical, inspired by a title from an audience member! They’re followed by Smash Night – a version of our monthly gig that we do at The Angel that brings together members of the improv community for Whose Line Is It Anyway style short-form and scenes!
You also have free workshops! What are they going to be about?
Our first workshop is an open to all beginners entry level course into improv. So often people are intimidated by improv, and we’re hoping that this course will help people who want to try it shed any preconceptions and nerves they may have!
Our second workshop is put on by Rhymes Against Humanity, and is all about musical improv. It’s for people who want to make up songs and rhymes on the spot, with full support from Rhyme’s talented director Lloydie James Lloyd and amazing musical director / musician Sam Plummer! Both of these workshops are free to anyone with tickets to any of our shows at the Playhouse.
Miss Imp has three house teams – tell us about them and their different styles?
First of all we’ve got Rhymes Against Humanity – they’re a musical team that spontaneously generate an entire musical based on a title from the audience! Everything from the music to the rhymes to the “choreography” is completely made up in an hour’s show. They are our longest running team, starting in 2016!
We’ve also got The Vox Pops, who are MissImp’s Armando team! That means that they take true stories and turn them into hilarious sketches. They’re often extremely fast-paced and energetic, I always love seeing what they get out of seemingly mundane stories!
Our final group are The Vortex, MissImp’s all-female Harold team. They take a suggestion from the audience and create an entire play based on it, going for real emotionally grounded and relationship-based scenes. You never know how emotionally invested you can get in completely ridiculous characters! I direct them, and am in no way biased.
We may also be auditioning for a new team in November, so watch this space…
Your show is based in Nottingham- what is the Improv scene like there?
It’s vibrant and growing every year! MissImp is getting bigger and bigger, with more and more people getting involved. We’ve got more women than ever before, and a great diversity in age ranges (from 20 to 75!) We’re also holding auditions in November for an all-new house team – Epic! The Improvised Movie! But there’s not just MissImp – groups like the Nottingham Comedy Experience (NICE), Hideout Productions, and the University of Nottigham’s Improv Society all add something unique to our community.
With the Festival season just finished – what have been some of the best acts you have seen this summer and why?
Ooooooh – I actually went up to the Fringe this year and as always I loved Austentatious doing their gender-swapped show Crosstentatious! I also loved Bumper Blyton and Spontaneous Potter – you can tell that improv is having a bit of a moment in Edinburgh. But sometimes searching for lesser known shows is even more rewarding – Mara Craig’s ‘Me Plus One’ was on for free and I massively enjoyed that!
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an improv troupe?
First of all, do it! Second of all, make sure you trust the people you’re working with to have your back when the going gets tough. Whether they’re your teammates, the people you’re directing, or fellow organisers, you’ll always have something crop up that challenges you. Having the right people around you will help you get over even the toughest gig!
What is the best thing about a night at MissImp for the audience?
I think it’s that you have so many options of how you can experience it! If you want to get up and have a go, you can come to our monthly improv karaoke Gorilla Burger. If you want to learn some skills, you can come to our weekly drop-ins. If you want to sit and watch some of the Midland’s best improv, you can come to our monthly Smash Night at The Angel. And there are so many different styles to choose from – from sketch to musical – there’s sure to be something for everyone!
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @missimp! We update with all of our jams, shows, and social events! Our house teams also have all of their own social media – you can find Rhymes Against Humanity at @rhymesimprov, The Vox Pops are at @thevoxpops, and The Vortex are at @thevorteximprov.
What is YOUR favourite MissImp show you have done this year and why?
It has to be the all-female improv show I hosted back in May! It was the first ever all-women improv show to take place in the Midlands, and we had performances from The Vortex and amazing Birmingham-based two-prov Squidheart. We had a jam at the end where a bunch of women who had never done improv before got up and had a go! It was a lot of hard work to organise, but it was such an empowering atmosphere that it was definitely worth it.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Weekend of euphoria!
QUICK FIRE ROUND
If you could be any animal what would it be and why?
A plump house cat due to my love of naps, sunbeams, and attention.
Who is your favorite super hero and why?
Batman – he needs a hug, but has all the best villains!
If a movie was made of your life what genre would it be, who would play you?
Tense psychological thriller, played by Michael Cera with a pixie cut.
If you could go any where in the world where would you go and why?
I’d love to go to Chicago for the pizza and improv!
What would you do with your “15 minutes” of fame?
Raise awareness for worthy causes. And develop my own work-out tape.
What is one item you could NEVER live without?
Probably my phone, or at least some sort of head-phone attached device? I listen to a LOT of podcasts, audiobooks and shameless YouTube letsplays.
Last time you laughed very hard out loud?
Probably at this Saturday’s rehearsal for The Vortex, when I walked back from the bathroom to discover the entire troupe being “Trumpet Squad.”
What is your favorite movie quote?
Every word uttered by Robin Williams in Aladdin. “Tell… her.. the… TRUUUUUTH!