INTERVIEW: Providing Improv Classes and Entertainment During Lockdown

Since the beginning of Lockdown in March, Hoopla Impro has been running a number of drop ins and courses online for students who want to continue to learn improv. They have also been running a variety of weekly shows. So, since a few months has passed since they started doing it, I decided to catch up with Steve Roe to find out how it has all been going.

Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m Steve from Hoopla and I’m running lots of Hoopla’s online improv workshops. I’ve been running Hoopla for almost 15 years which is a bonkers long time! I love improv more and more each day, including when it’s online.

Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?

We are bringing our next season of online courses and drop-in workshops. We’ve been running online since March so have built up lots of great exercises and have loads of great teachers who are really experienced in online improv. We’ve got beginners improv courses for people new to improv plus for experienced improvisers we have courses like Story, Satire, Game of the Scene, Emotional Connection, Meisner and more.

What times does it run throughout the day?

We’ve got lots of different courses and classes running, most are 7pm – 9pm weekday evenings.

How much does it cost , what platform etc?

Cost varies from course to courses, prices start at just £10 for dropins.

How was the project formed?

Out of necessity! Back in March almost the whole improv scene had to move online. At the first workshop I didn’t think it would work but was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was. People are having a great time doing improv online.

How has it been going so far?

Really well thanks! We’re running up to 6 online classes or courses a day. At the start of lockdown I thought we would be hibernating but the opposite has happened and we are doing loads.

With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?

Social connection. We are literally being asked to not touch, not socially interact too much, not get too close to loved ones, not have parties. While we may be doing that to stay safe I think it’s damaging in other ways. Social interaction is one of the most important parts of being human. We aren’t perspex coated robots performing isolated functions, we are a complex highly sociable species and being sociable is important for our mental health and being human.

Do you think that this is going to effect or adapt the way we interact with improv in the future if so how?

Yes I think we’ll always be running some workshops online in the future even after the pandemic is totally over. I think online will support real-life but not take over from it. Real-life is still awesome and actually as people after this will be spending so much time working at home I think real-life improv will be needed more than ever.

Do you think online is going to be incorporated more into improv in the future?

Yes and no. For Hoopla it will be an option on courses but when our real-life shows and workshops come back they won’t have an online bit to them. One of the purposes of Hoopla is to give people a break from computers and the internet, so I think our real-life things will stay purely human.

In times like this, what would the Inspirational Lobster say to people for advice?

Funny you should ask, he is making a video soon. He’s had a think about things during lockdown and changed his tune, here’s his advice:

“Look around. If you are alive. If you are breathing. If you are healthy. That is success already. You don’t have to strive to achieve things and feel like you aren’t enough. Just being alive right now in this world is amazing and it’s an honour to be alive with you. There have been so many people before us, and there will be so more after us. Just being alive at the same time as someone else, anyone else, is an incredible coincidence and you have more in common with each other than any of your differences. Your family, your friends, your health, water, air, food, love, those are the important things. You don’t have to become anyone else, become what you are.”

What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?

Good times!

As always we aim to give people a place where they can have FUN with improv and have a big laugh with it. That hasn’t changed with online, in fact it’s more fun than ever.

If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?

@hooplaimpro for all platforms, facebook, twitter, instagram

Plus a facebook group Hoopla Impro People

Finally why should people get involved?

There’s more to life than work.

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