Alex and I have a new show, Sex, Lies & Improvisation, a dark comedy about lying together. We’re taking it on tour, but that’s only possible thanks to those improvisers who run great events in their improv communities. Let’s celebrate them.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are…The Improv Community Heroes!
Hero Fact File
Names: Sarah Davies and Jason Delpanque
Location of Hero-ing: Folkestone
Community events: Improv Gym, drop-ins, courses, jams and masterclasses at The Quarterhouse Theatre.
Sarah’s Troupes: Gym Pass, Improbotics, City Impro, Twinprov with Julie Flower and occasional bassoonist Martin Clark, and Plus Support which is co-run with Paul Little.
Jason’s Troupes: The Maydays, MAN (solo improv), and The Long Shots and Mad Horse in Cape Town.
Rachel: How did you get into improvisation?
Jason: I always loved improvising at drama school and luckily enough I fell into a Maydays beginners course in 2005 and was hooked. I joined The Maydays shortly afterwards and things grew from there.
Rachel: What do you love about improvisation?
Sarah: The absolute freedom to take risks. The childlike sense of playfulness and the confidence it fosters in you to trust your own spontaneous instincts. Also the support from scene partners that makes all of that more of a joy, and less terrifying!
Jason: The constant pursuit of beauty and joy in creating something from (almost) nothing.
Rachel: Tell us about the Kent improv scene.
Sarah: There’s not a huge amount of improv currently in Kent, and for a lot of people the cost of commuting and paying for courses is prohibitive. What we do have a lot of is beautiful spaces, eager students and a real sense of playfulness and inclusivity that drives us onwards. I absolutely love working in such a beautiful theatre and area, full of creativity, and how diverse and quirky our group of students are. It makes for some truly exciting scenes!
Rachel: What drives you to run Improv Gym?
Sarah: We want to bring improv to as many people as possible, where we actually live!
Jason: Being able to share what I’ve learnt with as many people as possible and letting them know that anyone can improvise.
Rachel: What does an improv community need to thrive?
Sarah: So much — support, trust, playfulness, inclusivity. I always really focus on welcoming newcomers. I want to foster that idea that you can find your home in improv and be accepted for all of your brilliant weirdness.
Jason: Support from the venue you’re using. We’re lucky to have the Quarterhouse who are always promoting our classes and shows. It helps to have their backing as they can reach so many more people.
Rachel: What inspiration have you taken from other improv communities?
Jason: Keep doing it as much as possible by offering classes and shows on a regular basis. Always do it with as much love and joy as possible, and respect improv as an artform. I learned so much from The Maydays which shaped me as an improviser and teacher.
Sarah: I’m a huge fan of The Nursery. The professional and welcoming atmosphere and first-class teaching has inspired me so much.
Rachel: How can we engage more people in improv?
Sarah: That’s the key question, and really hard to answer! Help people understand what on earth it actually is, and then foster that tiny spark that says give it a try. We also need people to know that it is for them, whoever they are, so we need to see more people in improv from diverse backgrounds.
Jason: Taking it to them. Offering taught sessions in businesses, schools, charities and at different times of day in as many different places as possible, inviting them to shows and classes, showing them that it’s for everyone. Oh, and making mistakes along the way so people know it’s OK to do that!