I’m taking Between Us to Edinburgh Fringe for the first time this year, so I wanted to hear from other seasoned improvisers about their Edinburgh experiences. I caught up with Alex O’Bryan-Tear from Hivemind who are taking Improvengers: Pretendgame and Lord Of The Game Of The Ring Of Thrones.
Rachel: Tell us about your shows.
Alex: In Improvengers: Pretendgame the audience come up with names and powers of new superheroes. We audition our three favourite for the audience to choose from. We then see an hour-long blockbuster about that hero’s origins, packed with stunning improvised fight sequences and ‘special’ effects.
In Lord Of The Game Of The Ring Of Thrones the audience help us draw a map of a fantasy realm, and give us a title. We then put on an hour-long epic fantasy full of magic, courtly intrigue, and swordfights – underpinned by an improvised musical score.
Rachel: What do you enjoy about performing at Edinburgh?
Alex: The theatre community, especially the improv community, is incredibly strong, with tonnes of friendly and supportive people to meet. And there’s nothing quite like seeing an audience beaming, giggling and grinning when they leave a particularly good show of ours.
Rachel: Tell us about your best ever Edinburgh performance.
Alex: In our previous show, Playlight Robbery, the audience threw flyers for other shows into a hat. We’d pull out our favourites and get the audience to decide which one they wanted to see. In one run, someone kindly threw in a voucher packet for Subway. Needless to say, it won the vote, so we had to stage an hour-long adventure starring anthropomorphic sandwich ingredients.
Rachel: What do you find difficult about performing at Edinburgh?
Alex: The Fringe, for an improviser, is an endurance test. Daily performances mean that it’s very easy to come up with fresh material every day – but that does require energy. You need to eat right and look after yourself, which is hard when there’s so much to do and see!
Rachel: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not performing?
Alex: We play a lot of elaborate board games or check out other improv shows.
Rachel: What advice would you give to a new show at Edinburgh?
Alex: For the love of God, read the Fringe producer’s guide, and stick to the schedule they recommend. They really do know what they’re talking about, and want to make your life as easy as possible.
Rachel: How do you keep your improv fresh when you’re performing every day?
Alex: We actually find performing every day is what keeps our shows freshest. With all the most obvious fantasy or superhero tropes, characters, and plot arcs coming out early, we find ourselves going in new and experimental directions much more easily.
Rachel: And where can we see the shows?
Alex: We’re up from the 15th to the 27th August. Improvengers: Pretendgame is at 6:30pm at JTT La Belle Angele. Lord Of The Game Of The Ring Of Thrones is at 1:30pm at The Big Room @ JTT The Caves. Say hi at firstname.lastname@example.org!