This month I chatted to over 30 female improvisers from all over the UK to celebrate the talent that we have – we also discuss some of the important debates surrounding this topic as well. Today I talk to an improviser that is part of Impropriety CIC – Angie Waller
Hello There! Tell us who you are and three random facts about yourself!
Hiya. I’m Angie Waller. 3 random facts 1) I once mimed backing vocals for Howard Jones (google who he is if you’re too young to remember 2) One of my guilty pleasures is Hollyoaks 3) I have a stinking cold riiiight now
How did you get into improv?
I fancied someone at a workshop I was invited to (I’m now married to him!)
What inspired you to start improv?
My youth theatre teacher introduced me to Keith Johnstone’s Impro and did loads of exercises from the book.
What troupes are you are a part of?
At the moment Impropriety CIC
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why
I love singing Improv. I’m not very good at doing songs with other people as my brain finds it hard to remember what’s just come out of my mouth, but as a singer I love playing with musicians. Because my brain is thinking of the music words just fall out and seem to make sense! I’m also a character actor and clown so I love big and silly. As an actor I also like to tell a story and LOVE being part of Improvathons (I’ve done 13…the longest being 54hrs).
Who are some Improvisers that you find inspiring and why?
I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing Improvisers. Mark Meer from DieNasty, Canada is one of the most natural Improvisers I’ve ever met. Katy Schutte and Chris Mead are incredible and Patti Styles is a living legend. All of them are so generous when they perform and totally embrace the “make your scene partner look good” lesson of Improv.
I have read many articles around the debate that it is harder to be a woman in improv – what are your thoughts on this and why?
I think that Improv has often been lumped together with stand up, which is very male dominated. However I think there is a definite shift at the moment. Most of the high profile Improvisers I know at the moment are women – Pippa Evans, Cariad Lloyd, Ruth Bratt, Rachel Parris and teachers such as Patti Styles and Katy Schutte.
What are some of the best bits of advice you have been given about improv and why?
The main things I got taught were 1) Don’t be a d*ck and 2) It’s your job to make your scene partner look great. If everyone is doing that then the result can only be great 3) If you fail – make it heroic (the late great Ken Campbell) .
Do you find that being a female in an improv show that the suggestions you can get are traditional and stereotypical? How do you feel when you get given these?
To be honest I’ve been really lucky and have performed with very few people who have given those suggestions.
What have been some of your favourite moments on stage?
I love it when the audience and you discover things at the same time and that moment where it really clicks with the audience that you’re making things up. I have a comedy character, Nana Funk, who I regularly host as and I recently got the audience to name my foof after introducing a singing foof called Kathryn. The moment where I realised that the words “would you like to name my Kathryn?” were actually going to come out of my mouth was amazing. The audience saw the thought at the exact same time that my brain realised it and the joint joy from that was immense.
What have been some of the worst and why?
Thinking you’ve broken Improv! It can be really easy to let your doubting through sometimes and when you do it’s horrible.
For new improvisers, what would your key bit of advice be?
Be open, work with as many people as possible and never think you’ve learned everything.
What are three things you want to focus on this season with your own improv?
I have a One Nana Show in my head that I have done a couple of R&D’s with. I would like it to integrate script and Improv. At the moment it’s very singing orientated and I’ve started to work on Improvising songs on the ukulele. So, I suppose
- One Nana Show
- Improv Ukulele songs
- My hosting as Nana Funk
What is the future of improv?
For years everyone has seen Improv as Who’s Line Is It Anyway? Although a fantastic show, I think that has blinkered people’s knowledge of Improv. It’s an absolute joy now to see more longform in the mainstream from the different Improvathons (e.g London, Liverpool, Bristol) and also companies such as Austentatious and Showstopper taking it to the West End and winning Oliviers! Long may it continue
Photo by Andrew Ness Photography