We’re touring our new show: Sex, Lies & Improvisation, a dark comedy about lying together. But that just isn’t possible without a network of awesome improvisers who run great events in their improv communities. So let’s celebrate those people!
Ladies and gentlemen, these are…The Improv Community Heroes!
Hero Fact File
Name: Charlie Gascoyne
Location of Hero-ing: Sheffield
Community events: Little Chicago Comedy night at Hagglers Corner and the long-form jam at Crucible Corner (with Joe Thompson).
Troupe: Long Boi And The Noise
Rachel: How did you get into improvisation?
Charlie: I was dragged kicking and screaming to the University of Sheffield improv group The Shrimps. I’d like to say I was immediately a success but that would be a huge lie. But I was definitely hooked from day one.
Rachel: And The Shrimps is where we met! What got you hooked?
Charlie: I love the unpredictability of improvisation. I love how many worlds can be brought to the stage in such quick succession with no set, props or costume. I love how whatever I say is true, is true. I get to build an entire universe. I love to play god!
Rachel: We both improvise in Sheffield. What do you love about our improv community?
Charlie: It’s so varied and yet we all turn out to support each other no matter the project. It’s arguably still a blossoming community compared to some but it’s wonderful to help it grow.
Rachel: What drives you to help the Sheffield improv community grow?
Charlie: I think communities on the whole are gold-dust. Studies show that people who feel part of a supportive community genuinely have a better quality of life and live longer. Improv is a special community that welcomes and encourages so many different opinions and backgrounds. I want my community to always have a place for everyone.
Rachel: What does an improv community need to grow?
Charlie: People willing to put the time in. The dedication of key members of an improv community is the foundation for any growth. And those with rigid unrelenting opinions need to stay away! If your improv is not inclusive of all, hit the road!
Rachel: As well as running Little Chicago Productions, you teach improv workshops. What are you doing to promote inclusivity?
Charlie: As well as aiming for a better gender balance in our groups and shows, we are aiming to run our sessions and future courses accessible to all those with additional needs. I’ve recently developed a new workshop that aims to be inclusive to all those with communication needs and speech and language impairments (my other passion!).
Rachel: How can we engage more people in improv?
Charlie: We need to extend into other communities and not just advertise within our own circles. Don’t just flyer the theatre people. Hit the gyms! The knitting groups! The rugby teams! Improv expands best when it moves past just the usual suspects. More people should know we are here!
Rachel: Where do you get your inspiration?
Charlie: I’m such a fan of the wonderful British Improv Project gang. We learn by meeting new people and better ourselves by being exposed to new ideas and methods, so the BIP gives us all those opportunities. It’s why at Little Chicago we want guest performers — come and show US how YOU play!
Rachel: What’s challenging about being an improv community hero?
Charlie: I hate confrontation. I’m opinionated and passionate but I resent having to argue my point when I’m meant to be leading a session. When you teach/coach/lead any improv thing, you have to be transparent and accountable so I feel the pressure to always be liked! I also think it’s hard to state boundaries. Yes, I’m doing this alone. Yes, I’ve heard your opinion. No, I don’t need your help. This is ten times harder as a non-male teacher!
Rachel: What has improv taught you about people and life in general?
Charlie: Everyone can be funny. Everyone can bring something utterly magnificent to a scene or game just by surrendering completely to the improvised element. No one is unteachable unless they choose to be. And yes, your improv team name will be cringey and you’ll hate it eventually. Embrace it.