This weekend is the first ever Hoopla UK and Ireland Improv Festival where 18 acts from all across the country are heading down to the Miller at London Bridge to perform at this very exciting event! Over the week we are going to be interviewing some of the acts that are set to perform! I sat down with Cambridge based improv troupe Stealing the Show to find out what they have in store.
Time Slot: 10:30pm
Day: Friday 26th April
Hello There! Tell us about your troupe and the name of your set!
Hi there! We’re Stealing The Show: The Improvised Heist Comedy! Everything you need to know is in the name really. We are Hugh Clark, Catherine Hodges, Mike Horscroft, Sean Keoghan and David McHardy. We are based in Cambridge and we’re super excited to be joining all the people and shows happening at Hoopla’s UK & Ireland Improv Festival.
How did you come up with the name of your show?
Stealing The Show was the most successful out of a bunch of ideas we threw around. It’s a show about stealing. Stealing: The Show! It’s sort of the troupe name, sort of the show name. STS has only ever been doing heist themed long forms so it describes both.
Since we were aiming ourselves at the broadest possible audience (including people who don’t know what improv is) we appended the clunky but concise subtitle to help festival audiences know what they’re buying into.
Tell us a little bit about your style of improv?
We’ve been doing exclusively hour long narratives for most of our performances up until a few months back. We love telling a story, building fun characters and playing their games! We’re all about high energy, turning emotions up to 11, and just having an all round great time. If you ever come and see one of our own shows it will be an hour of telling a story through barely controlled laughter, it’s a riot.
Our style is born out of the dynamic between our players. We have such spectacularly talented people and they all bring something unique to the table. Most of that playfulness comes from each of us trying to get the other person on stage to laugh, that changes depending on who you’re playing with.
What will your set be about?
Lately we’ve been performing a half hour set which we’ll be bringing to Hoopla. It’s not narrative, as it’s too much to shoehorn into 30 mins when we could just be having a load of fun on stage. We take our playful energy and use it to explore a world in which a heist has already happened. It’s centered around the interrogation of the suspect, and the rest is whatever we want to have fun with. We really enjoy it.
What other acts are you looking forward to?
Oh my goodness, all of them?! It will be great to see some friends on stage with most of the other acts over the weekend. Same Faces will be giving an exhibition on Short Form. We’ve heard great things about Jumprov and their energy, looking forward to learning from them. The Maydays are on on Friday too and we can’t believe some of us haven’t seen them yet. So exciting!
You are from Cambridge in the UK – what is the Improv scene like there?
Cambridge is jam packed at the moment! There are at least nine show nights happening in April. A couple of 3 or 4 day theatre runs, one from The Ministry of Unplanned Occurrences and the other from Cambridge Improv Factory. Our monthly night, Stealing The Show Presents is hosting The Vox Pops this month, we’re always shipping in shows from all over the place (email@example.com if you’re interested in a 30min slot). Last, but not least, The Cambridge Impronauts perform both Short Form and Long Form regularly during Cambridge University term time (they’re associated with but not officially part of the university). If you’re ever in town just check out our Twitter @showtheft as we’re usually yelling about something that’s going on in our community.
We have proper theatre spaces available to us as it’s a very theatre friendly town, which leads to some really top quality improv productions. The hard part has been finding good pub spaces to work with. We’ve been very lucky and we’re building relationships as we go, we’re hoping to do more events for our community with the spaces available. Watch this space!
What have been some of your favourite improv shows you have been a part of to date and why?
Hugh: So many recently. MissImp had us up to Smash Night at the end of February. Great night, lovely hosts, great venue, lots of hilarious acts, a fantastic monthly night to have in Nottingham. As we were coming towards the end of our time on stage, Mike brings me on and begins trying to sell me Business Milk™. It took me completely by surprise and I had to to the outro to our show while wiping tears of laughter out of my eyes.
Sean: I was actually chuckling to myself the other day about our first show at the Leicester Comedy Festival. It looked to me like David was about to try and quiz me about South American geography after my character’s recent trip, so when the third country came up I told him it wasn’t there anymore. It was one of those wonderful moments where everyone went silent and then laughter erupted as everyone internally tried to figure out what could have happened to Paraguay.
Mike: The show that sticks in my mind was the one with the The Same Faces at Brewdog in Leicester. It was a really high energy night with a receptive audience and we managed to bring all the narrative threads together at the end which is always pleasing! I also got to play a very silly game involving charades.
David: We did a gig at Stürike Comedy’s night up in Sheffield in July last year, and my word it was an absolute joy. All the characters were great, the game play was really tight, and the narrative had a satisfying conclusion – exactly what I like watching in narrative longform, and a delight to be a part of.
What is the best bit of advice you have ever been given about Improv and why?
Hugh: It’s probably cliché but at the last British Improv Project weekend I attended, Kate Knight ran a session on Susan Messing. “If you’re not having fun, you’re the a**hole” has really stuck with me. It’s a dramatic over simplification of the problem – as any good quote is – but the core sentiment is great. You can, and should, choose joy when going into any situation, improv or not.
Sean: I was going to say something similar to Hugh so I’ll pick something else, but I agree that making sure you’re having fun is something I’d consider incredibly important. “You’ll know what you need to know when you need to know it.” is something I’ve always found to be helpful. It means that I don’t need to get worried and invent anything because as long as I’m listening to my partner or partners and paying attention to the scene then I’ll know exactly what to say when the time comes.
Catherine: One piece of advice that sticks with me is that ‘there are three shows – one that the audience sees, one that the cast experiences together, and the one each person individually experiences’. It reminds me that no matter how I feel about a show, it’s not what the audience is experiencing, so I shouldn’t get too in my head if I think I do something badly.
David: Organisation/Production is the most important thing to get right. If you make the effort to organise practices and gigs (as a team), and classes and performance opportunities (as a player) then a lot of the other stuff (groupmind, developing your own performing skills etc.) takes care of itself.
What are the things you are looking forward to most about the Hoopla Festival?
Hugh: A chance to just steep in nothing but improv for a couple of days.
Catherine: Just building that improv network up, seeing friends old and new. Improvisers and the absolute best.
Sean: The variety of shows. With acts coming in from all over I’m excited about seeing how everyone does their own thing and waiting to pick up some tips.
Mike: We will get to see and perform alongside the cream of UK and Ireland improv!
David: Seeing the other teams play and being motivated by how good they are.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
@showtheft on all the things
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Hugh: Criminal Comedy Caper
Sean: Definitely Competent Criminals
Mike: There’ll Be Japes
David: We’ll be laughing
Catherine: Expertly Stealing Laughs
For more information of to buy tickets to the Hoopla UK and Ireland Impro Festival then click the link here