It is nearing the end of 2018 and what we like to do here on The Phoenix Remix is celebrate the world of improv and what a year it has been! There has been so many great acts and shows this year and it has been really hard to decide who to interview for our mini awards that we hold at the end of the year. So on the run up to new year we will have a couple of exclusive interviews with some of the best acts that we have had the privilege of seeing or listening to this year.
Being a new improv act on the scene can be really hard to get noticed but there is one girl troupe that has made an impression this year. I originally saw B.R.A. at one of their first pre party shows that they did at Hoopla. Punderstandably and I enjoyed their journalism based set so much we asked them to perform at Improv Towers there and then. So when thinking about this award there was only one act I really wanted to give it to. This years Best Newcomer is B.R.A
Congratulations B.R.A you have won the award for Best Newcomer of 2018 How do you feel?
Thank you so much!! Shocked and delighted just about covers it! We are super chuffed- we love improvising together and it’s lovely to be recognised.
How did the idea of B.R.A come around?
Well after doing a couple of Hoopla courses together we all started developing major improv crushes on each other. One night at the Miller someone picked up the courage to float the idea of starting a group and B.R.A was born. Starting off as friends means we have a very supportive style of play so B.R.A seemed to fit us nicely.
Do you watch news programmes for research purposes? If so what ones and why?
Absolutely not- if anything we avoid them. B.R.A news is meant to be an escape from the real world. We take out inspiration from zany, small-town news shenanigans and try to channel this with stories about hamsters, feather dusters and rubber ducks.
What are your plans for 2019?
Ideally full B.R.A based world domination! Aside from that we are doing a host of shows at the Miller in the New Year, collaborating with other great improv acts and on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities.
Why do you think people really enjoy B.R.A?
The main feedback we get is that our shows are just a gang of pals having a great and silly time on stage. We really love playing with bold characters and big offers and generally getting carried away by it all. We’ve also had some lovely feedback on our format-we have the news structure to anchor us so can get as silly and ridiculous as we like and not get lost.
Tell us all about how 2018 has been for you?
2018 has been a huge year for us as we all celebrate our first year in improv, having started out on a beginner’s course this time last year. We couldn’t have imagined that we would have come so far, met so many amazing improvisers and been able to get our own show on the road in the space of a year.
What has been some of your highlights of performing as B.R.A of this year?
Our first show at the Hoolpla Launchpad back in July was great- it’s such a lovely, supportive atmosphere to start off in and we gained so much confidence. More recently we did a four week run at the Nursery Carousel which allowed us to try new things and meet other great groups. We trialled a new Q&A section that allows the audience to call us out on any inconsistencies and mistakes in the story at the end of the show. Having more audience input injects another layer of fun and inspires some quick-fire scenes to finish things off. Playing with other groups is always something we really love too-we did a spot at Punderstandably’s Improv Towers back in September which was so much fun!
What have been some of your favourite improv shows you have seen this year and why?
Gosh where to start and how to choose! We had a little BRA holiday to the Edinburgh Fringe in the summer and saw some insanely good improv shows. Baby Wants Candy the improvised musical and Bear Pack, who are a New Zealand duo, were our stand-out shows. Closer to home we’ve seen so many amazing shows at the Miller- Dreamweaver Quartet, Music Box and the Maydays. We also loved the North Coast shows last month and have been quietly (and sometimes very loudly) beatboxing ever since.
What other improv acts do you find inspiring and why?
We really love groups and performers who bring big characters and lots of energy to the stage. Liz from the Maydays, who was our very first improv teacher, and Susan Harrison are two of our favourites. They both bring such an amazing range of warm and vibrant characters to their shows.
Where do you see B.R.A in a years time?
Bigger and bustier than ever- we hope to go up a cup size in 2019 (we are also desperately trying not to run out of bra based puns). We would really love to host our own regular night and maybe get a few improv festivals under our belts.