When you start a troupe, you tend to do it with people that you have either met on a course or people that you have bonded over the same ideologies about what you want your improv group to be and what to achieve.
What happens though when you have got a few months in and for one reason or another you need a few more players. Maybe you didn’t have the right amount in the first place, maybe some people have had to leave because of work commitments, the way life has pathed out or many other reasons. Well, finding new teammates can be a stress and something that can be really annoying to do as it is all about finding the right person that will fit.
With Punderstandably we are like any other group we have sadly lost members along the way. There is only two (James and I) of the original line up of 8 left. A lot of the others were actors and had to leave because of work commitments and then the last two that were with us for quite a while had to leave us due to them just by coincidence, losing their UK visas at the same time. There was a time around May two years ago I really thought that we would not make it and it felt like we were walking away but we didn’t we fought and found new members. Along the way we have lost a couple more but its been mainly because of work commitments of wanting to do long form instead of being part of a short form troupe (which can happen a lot in London because it is predominantly Long Form)
So we have had our moments of finding new members but today I wanted to talk about this as auditioning isn’t always the best way of finding new members. Here are a few tips on how to find members and that you don’t always have to go down the standard route.
Audition – Ok, so this is the most common way of finding new members, putting adverts out and then auditioning people to see if they will fit the team. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t. At Punders we have been really lucky at 70% of the people that we auditioned we loved so much that they are actually Punders to this day. I was always unsure about auditioning as I was worried people may come in and change they dynamics of what we had as a group but it did not. We also put all new punders on a 3 month probation just so that if they are not happy or we are not we can always go our separate ways. We only put this in because some people we have welcomed with open arms have let us down big time and we didn’t want to deal with that all over again.
Bring a Friend! – This has happened more then one occasision at Punders HQ – one of us has turned around and said ‘oh I have a friend that would be good’ and then we have welcomed them along to a rehearsal to see what we have all felt.
This again works really well because you sort of already have the reference of a friend and when you are in a troupe you tent to trust their judgement. Some of our longest improvisers have been friends of friends and it really works. It doesn’t always work but a give it try you can create great bonds like that!
Watch Shows and approach – The one thing that there is an abundance of in London and that is Improv shows. Some of these shows have jams and believe it or not they can be great places to find new members. A jam can be home to a lot of new improvisers who don’t have an improv troupe home and they may be looking for one. We approached someone like this because we thought their improvisation was really great and very similar to what we are as a team.
Sometimes it is really random – There is no right and wrong way of finding members for your improv troupe but there can be some really random situations that you find yourself in and you find the perfect group member. This has happened to Punders as well – Hoopla holds a picnic every year and I went to one of them and spoke to one guy for no more than 5 minutes and we exchanged details and he came along to a rehearsal and a year and a half later he is still with us and one of our longest members – funny how things work.