For this weeks Show Of The Week we are heading to Sheffield to talk to the new kids on the block – well new improv troupe anyway. Work In Progress are bringing their longform show to Sheffield Local Theatre – it is their first run there so it is a very exciting time for them. I caught up with Edd Crawley, the Director to find out all about it.
Work In Progress
Date: 18-21st September
Location:Sheffield Local theatre
Price: £8 concessions £5
Hello Edd tell us all about who you all are and three unknown facts about your troupe!
Hi I’m Edd Crawley, Director of Work In Progress Improv. We’re a new troupe in Sheffield, and our show of the same name debuts at the Sheffield Local Theatre 18-21 September. Three unknown facts about the Troupe:
1 – Nearly all of our cast are former (or current) members of The Shrimps – the University of Sheffield’s Improv Society
2 – As well as the Shrimps, our members are also members of Sturike Comedy, Cast Vs Crew, The Sheffield Revue, Joined at the Quip, the Life’s a Pitch Podcast, and more besides, so we’re a busy lot.
3 – Including myself, we have a total of 10 members in the troupe.
How did your troupe form?
We held auditions back in the springtime, and we had such an amazing cast turn up that everyone was immediately invited to join (after some fun audition scenes).
How did you come up with the name of your troupe? Was it difficult?
I initially set up a cast Facebook page, using Work in Progress (title to be confirmed) as the title, when someone pointed out to me that it was actually a fairly good name for the Troupe. it stuck.
How did the show come about?
I’d had the idea to write an office sitcom a few years ago based on my office working experience (and my obsession with The Thick of It), but I’d never done anything with it. About a year ago The Shrimps were performing at the Leeds Improv Jam, and during the drive back to Sheffield I mentioned that I’d had an idea for this show, but it could be improvised. Everyone immediately “Yes And”ed the idea, and by the time we were back in Sheffield, the idea was fairly well fleshed out. I then did almost nothing with the idea until I attended the British Improv Project’s Spring 2019 Gathering where I decided to dust off the idea and start again, so I set up an audition in May 2019, and secured a run at the Local Theatre during their Autumn 2019 Season, and Work In Progress was born.
How did you get into improv?
I first tried Stand-up, about 3 years ago, and managed a few gigs, but the discipline of writing was never quite there for me. Then I went along as an open spot to a night in Sheffield ran by The Sheffield Revue – Cannon Fodder, and nearly everyone there also did improv. Hugh Clark (of The Shrimps, and now Stealing The Show) suggested that I might want to come along to a Shrimps workshop, which I did, had an absolute blast, and kept going back.
Tell us a little bit about the show that are happening this week?
The show is a long-form office based comedy. It has a loose narrative structure, but is more of a character driven piece. If you’re a fan of the Office (either the UK or US version), The Thick of It, even Brooklyn 99, you’ll recognise the tropes of office comedy. In fact, if you have ever worked in an office, you’ll know some of these tropes well too!
It is a new season of improv what are you most looking forward to seeing?
I’m looking forward to seeing as many groups over the autumn as I can; in particular the British Improv Project’s Autumn Gathering in November.
It is the month of September – what were some of the best shows that you saw at festivals over summer and why?
Sadly I couldn’t make it to any festivals over the summer, but I’ve seen some amazing shows over the Summer at the Little Chicago Comedy night run by Long Boi and the Noise. A highlight for me has to be Ki Shah’s soloprov. It was the first soloprov I’ve seen and was absolutely blown away because of the way she played multiple people in a scene, almost simultaneously. I also enjoyed guest performing with Extreme Improv in Sheffield at their kid-friendly matinee. I was able to take my own kids to see me perform, which was a treat for them and me.
How do you warm up before a show?
We’ll have a check-in to see where we are all at emotionally, maybe something physical to get the blood pumping and a mind meld. Mind Melds are a Must.
What have been some of the best suggestions that you have been given in a show and why?
I once had to mime “a bottle of vermouth” during a game of QVC. It turns out it’s a tricky concept to get across when you’re limited to mime. Also, during the Story Time show I did with Sturike Comedy, we had the suggestion of Twilight as a story to re-enact. It’s been some years since I saw that, but our show ended with Bella choosing Sandra Bullock over Stephen the vampire. I’m not sure that was Stephanie Mayer’s original vision for the story.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Follow Work In Progress Improv on Facebook!
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Workplaces are Funny!
QUICK FIRE ROUND
What makes your smile?
What is your biggest strength as an improviser?
Being a supportive scene-mate
Dream venue to perform at and why?
Bristol Improv Theatre. I’d love to perform there because it’s got a great reputation and it’s just slightly too far to get there and back of an evening.
Are you a dog or cat person?
What is the most delightful suggestion for a scene you can think of?
Two parents at a school drop off. I think you could do so much with it.
If you had to have a tattoo to represent improv what would you have and why?
Simple, but I’d just have “Yes, And”; probably on a wrist to remind me to use listening and accepting skills at all times.
Who is your improv hero and why?
Joe Thompson (Long Boi and the Noise, Sturike etc) was my first teacher at The Shrimps and welcomed me in such a lovely way. Since then he’s been a force for good in Improv, and offered to help me when setting up Work In Progress. He’s an inspiration.
What is the last thing you liked on social media?
The Improv Boost on Facebook recently put up a video about conflict in improv. I love this as a concept (you can disagree but still accept the reality).
Something on your bucket list?
Take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe. It might be Work In Progress, it might be another show, but I will get there one year.