A Month of Pairs – INTERVIEW – Bendy House

It is duo’s month and so it is only right that we delve into the world of Twoprov this February. Over the next few weeks we are talking to a variation of improv acts up and down the country to find out the ins and outs of being part of a twoprov troupe. Today, I speak to Chris and Danny from Norwich to talk all things about being a duo.

Hello tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?

We’re an improv duo from Norwich, called Chris and Danny.

When we’re not performing we run Dogface Improv, coaching, delivering workshops and running shows and jams. During the day Chris works in IT and Danny is a theatre Director and Producer, in between trying to be a lady of leisure.

What style of Improv do you do?
Well that is a good question, we’re only two years old, so we’re working out our style. I think we’d agree that we feel best in grounded scenes with heightened characters, but that’s not to say that something odd and zany might not happen either.

What sort of suggestions do you ask the audience for in your show?
Last year we were looking at organic openings, so we asked for a physical suggestion, otherwise we ask for a word.

What is the best thing about being in a twoprov?
That there are only two of us on stage, so we have to be focussed and in the moment at all times, to try and respond and build with your partner. I love being on stage with Chris, I feel completely brave because I know he has my back.

What is the most challenging?

That there are only two of us on stage, so we have to be focussed and in the moment at all times, to try and respond and build with your partner!!! I can definitely remember a moment during an Edinburgh show, whereafter we called a scene I turned to the back of the stage and did a silent scream………things were feeling such hard work and I was in my head and the panic was raging. There’s nowhere to hide so turning back I just had to buckle down and commit to the next scene even more. Thankfully that day, Chris was not feeling the same and brought me back, and I could move on.

What will makes you different to other twoprov acts out there?
Well that’s difficult, I’m sure we are different to some, and not so different to others. Do we need to be different? I mean, every scene, every show is different in itself, we’re just aiming to find great improv, more than being different. I see a lot of improv, it’s not always different in styles but if it is good, fun, if it captures me, then I’m happy. We are not a genre based improv duo, we are very much a relationship based team, however we can find game and we can have fun with that, I suppose we are a duo that cares about who the characters are to to each other, and that’s not different, but it is important to us.

What advice would you give for people thinking about starting an twoprov troupe themselves?
Just get started, find what you like about being on stage together and do more of it. You have to like the other person a lot. Oh and get outside coaching, it brings perspective and ideas that you don’t get being just the two of you.

What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?
There was a caravan scene in 2017 that still stays with me, lovely characters, responding in ways that were not obvious but I wanted to believe in, they were characters full of hope and human goodness. Last year we had a show that resulted in being around a chicken farm and about 25 minute in the chickens appeared, I loved that switch from human relationships to chicken relationships, not that different in actual fact.

What other twoprov groups are you a fan of and why?
TJ and Dave, we’ve been lucky to see them in the UK and in Chicago, and I won’t ever bore of seeing them. There is a Chicago based duo called FINE, who I loved. They were so committed and able to take me on a journey without any huge heightening of characters, it was just brilliant to watch. Bear Pack, from Australia, wow I saw them in Edinburgh and loved them, hmm I do seem to love the men………

Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show?
Argh, now this is the tricky part of our duo, trying to rehearse! Firstly it is difficult to get the time, and to prioritise, especially as there are only two of us, it’s easy to say we don’t have time. Then there is the complication that there is only 2 of us in a room, so there’s a lot of pressure to help each other be in the right headspace, it’s not always easy to hear critique or feedback. On the other end of things, when there’s only two of you, you can just turn to each other and say, hey, you free now? Cool, let’s do 30 minutes.

Do you have any pre show rituals – if so what are they?
Before each Edinburgh show we put on very loud fun music and danced around the space as manic as possible, much to the delight of the venue staff.

What are your aims for your troupe for the improv in 2019?
We aim to perform at Edinburgh for our third year, keep working at being better at listening and tour more around the UK.

It’s the month of looooovveeeee so what things do you love about improv and why?
I love how I put all my trust in my partner and he puts his in mine and we create a fantasy world to escape to.

If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
We’re on FB, Twitter, as Bendy House, and on the http://www.dogfaceimprov.com website

DUO QUICK FIRE SPECIAL

If you could be any famous duo from TV, Film or Music what would your twoprov be and why?
Danny: Er I’m going to say Cagney and Lacey ( cause they are bad-ass cops of New York)

Chris: Hmm, good one. I’m going to have to say Colombo and his dog, which if I remember correctly was called dog.

Who creates the craziest improv characters?
Danny: Chris thinks I do.

Chris: Danny does.

What is your favourite thing about one another?

Danny: My favourite thing about Chris is that I trust him 100%, which frees me up, and he’s incredibly funny.

Chris: My favourite thing about Danny is that she will take our shows to unexpected and unusual places. If it was down to me I’d probably play it too safe.

What is the thing that the other would go viral for?

Danny: Ticket Sales!
Chris: Ticket Sales and/or biscuits.

You have £50 in your pocket to buy the other a present – what would you get them and why?

Danny: A new board game, and a box of wine gums. Chris loves playing games and being social, and the wine gums are just cause they’re his favorite.

Chris: A ticket to see Arsenal at the Emirates. It’d only be enough for one, so I’ll be in the pub.

If you had to release a duet – what would the song be and why?
Danny: Stan by Eminem and Dido, er on second thoughts I’ll ruin that, so maybe not…..

Chris: Islands in the Stream

The toughest question of all – last rolo – would you keep it or give it to your twoprov buddy

Danny: Well I boycott Nestle, so Chris knows better than to give me a rolo, but I’d totally give him my last bit of my fruit and nut!

Chris: Yeah, I’d forget that she boycotts Nesle and give it to Danny, only to have the thoughtful gesture thrown back in my face.

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