The Sweden International Improv Festival might have the best name – SWIMP! I asked Gustav, Linnea and Sandra what else is awesome about it.
Where? Uppsala, Sweden at the Reginateatern.
When? 4th to 7th March 2020.
Performances? 16 plus one or two extra mixer shows. Everything from Harolds, a break-up musical, short-form, to deep learned artificial improv robots.
Rachel: Describe SWIMP for us.
SWIMP is a four-day festival in Uppsala, which is Sweden’s fourth largest city, but it is quite small in comparison with Stockholm or Gothenburg. Therefore the festival and perhaps also the experience can become quite intense.
The majority of the improvisers stay at a hotel just across the street from the theatre and the theatre itself is located within the city centre, so everything you might need is within a five-minute walk. During the days there are workshops, and lots of other activities. In the evenings you can see amazing improvisers from all over the world perform. Every evening ends with a hangout at a local pub. Sleep. Repeat.
Rachel: What does the festival aim to achieve?
No but seriously, we actually invite ambassadors to our shows and they have sometimes shown up. The international touch of the festival encourages non-regular theatre visitors to attend and that has led up to a couple of heart-warming stories. We strive for SWIMP to be a pleasant experience for travelling improvisers; a meeting place for improvisers from all over the world; a place to share ideas and get inspired by others. We also like the idea of a broad representation of performers on stage, so we made equal gender representation one of our main goals.
Rachel: Tell us about this year’s workshops.
We always aim for a fun mix of a little bit of this and that. This year we have for example Peter More and Emma Wessleus teaching the workshop “Dark Improv”, a workshop taking on the dark and serious genres. They are also performing a show on the festival inspired by Nordic Noir and horror. “The Inappropriate Line” taught by Itamar Karbien will create a safe space for learning how to deal with out-of-place situations on-stage.
Rachel: What’s the best thing about your festival?
The feeling of being in a complete bubble for a whole week, soaking in ideas and inspiration and making friends for life. It feels like everyone is happy and socialising with each other. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are there for the whole festival or just one evening. The community feeling is overwhelming. Since we started, we’ve been surrounded by more and more fantastic people who want to help us and come up with great ideas for how to develop the festival.
Rachel: What’s organising a festival like?
Yeah, it’s really boring sometimes. A 2000-piece puzzle with lots of sky and sea, but when you finish it a lot of interesting people arrive and you become friends for life.
Rachel: What’s challenging about running an improv festival?
Explaining to an uninitiated audience what impro is can be a creative challenge. What the poster should say that will make everyone get it. And people not replying to your emails.
Rachel: What can improvisers get at SWIMP that they can’t get anywhere else?
Hotel, breakfast, lunch, waffle buffet, workshops, shows and aftershow party without having to leave the street. Also, a top notch venue with 200+ seating, excellent lighting and sound and perhaps the most dedicated technicians ever to walk this earth.
Feature photo: Gustav Uddgård, Linnéa Thörnqvist, Sandra Jogenby (Producers of #SWIMP20 and improvisers of Teater Prego)