A Month of Pairs – INTERVIEW -Squidheart

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 Kate and Suzie a troupe based in Birmingham to find out all about Squidheart.
Hello,tell us all about who you all are and a little bit about yourselves?

Kate: Hello! We’re Squidheart, two human beings. One of us is called Suzie Evans and the other one isn’t. There are lots of other similarities and differences too. For example, Suzie went to Drama school and Kate once met Jack off Coronation Street in a settee shop.


Suzie: Suzie lives in Bournville, the chocolatey part of Birmingham and Kate lives down the road in trendy Stirchley. They walk round to each other’s houses to play, like a couple of 8 year olds from the 90s. And here they end this third-person narrative.

What style of Improv do you do?


Kate: Longform: as much of a Harold as we can get away with in our given time on stage, minus the wanky games.

Suzie: Sorry if you like those games, we just can’t seem to do them without getting a bit ‘GCSE drama’. We enjoy multiple-character scenes and usually have a few of those in the mix. Sometimes we go a bit meta or Kate will make some clever topical/political statement that makes the audience go ‘ooooooooo’. We follow the fun. We prat about but we aim to create characters the audience care about at the same time. 

What sort of suggestions do you ask the audience for in your show?


Suzie: We get single word suggestion of absolutely anything at all. Pineapple! Dildo! Taxidermy! Hopefully none of those.


Kate: Once we’ve got that word, we have to think very quickly (and sometimes tenuously) of a real-life connection to that word from our own lives. The chat that we have about these real-life stories then becomes the basis for the scenes that follow.

What is the best thing about being in a twoprov?


Kate: The chance to play with my dream improv partner. And not having to be as polite about sharing.


SuzieGetting to play with Kate all the time! She is the yin to my yang. She’s logical, wordy and quick-witted. I’m emotional, theatrical and a bit dense. I enjoy how our very different minds meld and create something greater than the sum of our parts. Also, the admin and decisions are a hell of a lot easier with just two people! 

What is the most challenging?


Suzie: Not having anyone to feedback to us in rehearsals. We have to give all the notes ourselves (unless we get a coach to visit) which is harder when you are in all the scenes. We try and get round this by filming our shows and some practices and watching back together.


Kate: Differentiating our characters between scenes – I often default to my own voice, physicality and speech style for every character I’m playing in a show. Sometimes, if I’m nervous, I’ll make a feature out of my Brummie twang, or get a bit piratey. Suzie says there’s this look I only get on my face when I’m on stage.  But the challenge is to make the audience understand which characters we’re bringing back – and to remember them all ourselves too.
What will makes you different to other twoprov acts out there?

Kate: You don’t see loads of female twoprov in the UK, especially outside of London, so I guess there’s that. Plus, I don’t know of any other twoprov group who sit down to have a good old honest chat before they eventually get off their arse and make up a scene.

SuzieYeah we love our chat at the start. I think it helps the audience to warm to us a bit as we bare our souls with true-life stories.  
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting antwoprov troupe themselves? 

Kate: Do it! You’ll get better at improv, and your understanding of your own style – strengths and weaknesses – will become much clearer to you. Plus, when you find a twoprov partner that you really click with, it’s brill. So I’m told (ha ha) (no really though Suzie, please never leave me)


Suzie: Find the right person. There has to be improv-chemistry. Find someone who is a delight to improvise with. You have to really like each-other as people too. Think “can I spend a 3 hour car journey to a gig with this person and not kill them?”. That’s important. 

What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?


Suzie: We did a scene where we worked in the Greggs marketing department (around the time they did that nativity advert) and Kate demonstrated giving birth to a Greggs sausage roll. It was a joyful scene to be in! We did a scene recently as two teenagers in a band and I got to play electric guitar up and down the aisle very passionately. People clapped and cheered and I felt like an actual rockstar

Kate: I’ve enjoyed being Mystic Meg desperately trying to impress the cameraman on her late-night cable show; a teenager bargaining with God in the school’s stationery cupboard; a non-pervert who happens to enjoy loitering in alleyways; a pair of fisherwomen who decide to pack it all in for a simpler life on land. 
What other twoprov groups are you a fan of and why? 


Suzie: I loved Tara DeFrancisco and Rance Rizzutto’s show Here. An improvised musical. Got me right in the feels as well as making me laugh my head off. I went home full of joy and singing all the songs. So good. I love Dummy – Jason and Colleen have got such an awesome dynamic. I’m doing Jason Shott’s workshop in Feb, I can’t wait!  


Kate: Dummy are great – they’re masters of the slow burn and make every moment important, plus their relationships are always absorbing. In the UK, I’m a fan of Ghost Couple, who make ridiculously impressive technical feats look easy, and have a ‘truth in comedy’ feel that I really like. The Clones are another delightful pairing of two very talented improvisers, who create characters that are easy to care about. I could happily watch all of these groups for hours on end.  
Tell us about the sort of rehearsals you do to get ready for a show? 


Kate: Often we’ll drill a particular skill, e.g. reincorporation, or making clear second beats. We might get a friend or partner in to watch us and tell us what they thought. Suzie’s husband Sam is our most regular rehearsal audience, which is good because he’s a Laugher.


Suzie: Yes – shout out to Sam Evans and his distinctive laugh! You’re the best! In the lead up to a recent show we got our good friend Daniele Harford to coach us specifically focusing on emotional connection/authentic relationships and that was great – she has a very keen eye for relationship stuff.
Do you have any pre show rituals – if so what are they? 


Suzie: Kate is remarkably calm and does power-poses. I get excited and jump around. That’s usually how we roll. 
Kate: We do some spine curls if we remember to. There’s usually some Name 5 and Mind Meld to get us tuned in with each other. If at all feasible, we drink tea (herbal for me, on account of having burned my body out on caffeine back in my uni days).

What are your aims for your troupe for the improv in 2019?


Kate: Continue to perform regularly, both locally in Birmingham and nationally. Keep on having audacious amounts of fun.
Suzie: The Birmingham improv scene is really kicking off – we love being a part of that! We also want to visit other improv communities with our show/workshops and see other groups perform.
It’s the month of looooovveeeee so what things do you love about improv and why?


Suzie: Oh my. So much! I love the philosophy of saying ‘yes’ and not being afraid of failing – such great concepts for improv and for life. I love the thrill of the in-the-moment discovery that connects improvisers/audience in a totally unique way. I love the sense of mutual understanding when you meet another improviser that belongs to your cult erm I mean wider-improv-community. 
Kate: The freedom; the chance to build something moment to moment with another person; the absolute unknowability of where you’ll end up; the weirdness that inevitably comes out; the way it redefines your relationship to failure; making an art out of transience; the people you meet through it.


Suzie: Impressive use of semicolons, Kate.


Kate: Thanks; once an English teacher, always a semi-colon showoff.


If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?



In three words why should people come and see you perform?
Kate: award winning show!




If you could be any famous duo from TV, Film or Music what would your twoprov be and why?


Kate: Wham – we’re from the 80s, bring a mix of emotionally heavyweight subject matter with a generally feel-good vibe, and there’s 50% queer representation.


SuzieTorvill and Dean. Graceful teamwork. Thrilling moves. Jazzy outfits.  
Who creates the craziest improv characters?


Kate: I’ve been told I have a variety of crazy faces, so maybe me…
Suzie: She’s known as Ol’ Crazy-Face here in Birmingham. I don’t know who creates the craziest characters. My characters tend to have crazy points of view but I don’t think my face goes to Crazy Town in the same way as Kate’s! 
What is your favourite thing about one another?


Suzie: Kate has excellent taste in t-shirts. Her brain is full of interesting ideas and I really respect her and the way she thinks about thingsImprov-wise: Kate is a scene-saver. Her super-power is that you can chuck anything her way and she will make it make sense. She’s an improv-wizard that way. 


Kate: As an improviser, Suzie is reliably hilarious and an extremely generous scene partner. As a person, I don’t know anyone who celebrates people more than Suzie does. She is kind and brave and warm in ways that inspire me constantly. She also has fundamentally funny bones. 


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


Kate: Suzie posted a picture of a pizza she’d burnt to a crisp that went down quite well. Maybe that with a snappy caption, like ‘Aaaaargh, Mondays’. 


SuzieHaha! Yeah people bloody loved that photo of my pizza fail. Kate would probably go viral for writing a powerful piece of vegan propaganda that cuts to the heart and turns the world off meat forever.
You have £50 in your pocket to buy the other a present – what would you get them and why?


KateA vintage Adidas sweater off eBay to add to her collection, for all those games of basketball that she likes to play.


SE: I reckon Kate would love it if I donated most of it to a local rescue-dog charity and then went and chose her an obscure piece of art from Oxfam with the final £5.
If you had to release a duet – what would the song be and why?


Suzie: It would be a song called ‘Bread and Jam’ because this is an actual song we made up in an improv scene once and at the end of our show the whole audience sang along to it. I reckon it would be a hit. 


Kate: ‘Islands in the Stream’. I’d be Kenny Rogers, obviously.


The toughest question of all – last rolo – would you keep it or give it to your twoprov buddy?
Kate: If we’re talking standard-issue rolos, Suzie can have the whole tube. I would give her my last slice of vegan pizza, if she asked. Which she never would. Which suits us both.
Suzie: I would give Kate my last vegan-rolo. Vegan rolos are the next big thing. You read it here first. 

3 thoughts on “A Month of Pairs – INTERVIEW -Squidheart

  1. Clive E says:

    A great interview – did it really happen like that, with semi-colons and all? Or is there another three hours of material on the cutting room floor?


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