The second ever Edinburgh International Improv Festival is this month! I spoke to Jason Perez about building the improv community in Scotland and beyond.
When? February 27 to March 1st.
Workshops? 10 workshops from some of the greatest minds in long-form and musical improv: Will Hines, Rebecca Drysdale, Billy Merritt, and Showstoppers! Plus a writing for television talkback with Heather Anne Campbell and Rebecca Drysdale.
Shows? 18 performances including harolds, armandos, musicals, police procedurals and robots!
Jams? A big late-night jam on the Friday
Rachel: Congratulations on year two of the Edinburgh International Improv Festival! What’s your goal?
Jason: Bringing the best improvisational comedy to Edinburgh. Our focus is the community, within Scotland, the UK and internationally. We want to build bridges and open a dialogue that allows the art form to grow.
Rachel: What’s the best thing about it?
Jason: I’d say two things.
One: There’s a sense of community that you don’t get at many UK improv festivals due to how things are spread out over location and/or time. We pack it all into one weekend and a very central location so that everyone can mingle and support each other. It almost feels like a summer camp.
Two: Our ability to bring in A-list headliners. We really strive to bring over people that improvisers in Scotland or even the UK, in general, would usually only dream of learning from and/or see perform. This year’s extravaganza is headlined by Will Hines, Heather Anne Campbell, Rebecca Drysdale, Billy Merritt, and Showstoppers! So it’s pretty much improv heaven.
Rachel: What’s challenging about running an improv festival?
Jason: Everything. Having to make tough decisions when you have so many amazing applicants but only a few slots. Every rejection letter you write feels like you’ve just put a dog down. The stress alone is usually enough to deteriorate most of the intimate relationships you have. On top of that running a festival is like working a second full-time job…only you don’t get paid. Hahaha. Doesn’t that sound fun?!
Rachel: So why do you do it?
Jason: Getting to see this thing that you have dedicated your life to actually work and help your community. It also allows me to meet so many new and amazing people.
Rachel: How do you manage the boring admin and organisation stuff?
Jason: Will let you know when I figure that out.
Rachel: What do you find works when you’re advertising the festival?
Jason: Mostly word of mouth and Facebook. Word of mouth is so important in the improv community.
Rachel: What can improvisers get at your improv festival that they can’t get anywhere else?
Jason: Our end of the festival Ceilidh (Scottish folk dance) is pretty special.