This week we are talking to Rhiannon Jenkins who is currently Directing a show called The Love Circle at the Hideout Theatre. The show started on the 29th August and is running until the end of September so there is still a couple of chances for you to see the show! I was intrigued to hear all about it, so I caught up with Rhiannon to find out all about this La Ronde based show.
Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! I’m Rhiannon – I’m an actor, improviser, singer, teacher, facilitator, and work for a startup in the Death, Dying, and Bereavement industry. I currently play with They Don’t Know the Half of It, The Ol’ Bill, Eggplant Improv. I was a founding member of Acaprov: the improvised A Capella Musical, and previously played with Improbotics, and in a couple of Nursery Originals productions.
Tell us all about the project that you are bringing to the online world at the moment?
I’m directing “The Love Circle”; a student mainstage show at The Hideout Theatre. It’s a La Ronde, inspired by the German play Reigen, that the format is based on. It’s a romantic, relationship-driven show, inspired by online dating profiles. It definitely gets a little steamy!
What times does it run throughout the day?
Performances started on August 29th, and run every Saturday for 4 weeks at 6.30pm ET / 11.30pm BST.
How much does it cost , what platform etc?
It’s free, on The Hideout Theatre’s Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/hideouttheatre), but you can buy a virtual ticket on The Hideout Theatre Website (https://www.hideouttheatre.com/shows/) to help support the theatre in these difficult times.
How was the project formed?
The Hideout advertised online for director pitches for student shows, and I applied, as I was super excited to be able to have the opportunity to work with people from an improv community that’s brand new to me. I’d used the La Ronde format a couple of times when teaching online, as it works very well for clear editing, so I knew I wanted to use that format, and when I did a little research into the play, I knew I wanted it to be a romance-based show. Then using online dating profiles for inspiration just seemed obvious!
How has it been going so far?
Incredibly well. The cast are extraordinarily talented, and so open to experimenting and making bold choices. Honestly, I’d have been quite happy to have streamed their first run through from our first rehearsal, and it’s only been elevated even more by every rehearsal. Roy and Caeriel from The Hideout have been so supportive, and we’ve got amazing tech support from Charlotte and Michael, so I think it’s going to be a brilliant show!
How do you rehearse for an online show?
We’re using Zoom as the platform we rehearse and perform from. It’s very similar to a “real life” improv rehearsal, really; I run a variety of exercises to work on specific skills that I’d like to hone in the cast (narrative, connection, character work, etc.), and we do scene work and run throughs of the show. Now that we’re getting closer to the first show, the main focus of our rehearsals is doing run throughs, with some notes afterwards.
With everything happening in the world at the moment, why is it so important to have activities like yours available?
Improv is all about connection with others, and doing a show like this has allowed me to meet a whole new group of people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I’ve been so blown away by how open and supportive this group is. If, like me, you’re struggling with being locked up at home, improv is a great way to escape the monotony and find some human connection.
What are three things you have learnt about adapting to improv online?
1) Eyelines are hard! You have to really think about where you’re looking; I think generally I suggest to actors that the best thing to cheat zoom eye contact is to have the non-speaking actor look at the camera, so that when the speaking actor looks at them on screen, they can see a reaction. Although, when you’re making up dialogue, that can get tricky!
2) End your sentences with a full stop. Zoom doesn’t work all that well with talking over each other – be clear and intentional with your lines. Speak until you’ve finished a thought and stop. (You should probably do that in real life too).
3) Use the tools that are unique to the online space! One thing that’s fabulous about being on camera is that your audience can really see your face, and the emotions passing over you. Use proxemics, props, backgrounds, perspective – just fuck about and be curious! Instead of thinking in terms of how we’re limited by being online, think about all the new things we can do that we couldn’t do on stage.
Even when shows are back in theatres in the future will you be considering doing any more online content?
I think I will. I was very skeptical about online improv to begin with, but I think now that we’ve been doing it for a few months, there’s some real progress being made, and some really exciting stuff being done that we just wouldn’t have been able to do on a stage. It’s also so lovely to be able to play with people from all over the world, and it feels like a much more inclusive forum than on-stage improv, in many ways. Obviously I love performing on stage, and in particular I can’t wait to get back to travelling to festivals, but the online space means that all you need is an internet connection to play. I definitely want to continue to cultivate the international relationships I’ve made, but also to explore this strange new world we’ve found ourselves in!
What can people expect over the next few weeks from your project?
It’s a show with a lot of heart. You can expect some very grounded relationships, but also quite a lot of sexy scenes! If rehearsals are anything to go by, it’s definitely a risque show, so don’t have kids in the room if you’re watching!
If people want to find out more about you on social media where shall they visit?
You can find me on Facebook (Rhiannon Jenkins), Instagram (@RhiannonJenks93), or Twitter (@RhiannonJenks93). The Ol’ Bill are on @theolbillimprov in all the usual places, They Don’t Know the Half of it are @dontknowhalf, and Eggplant is at @eggplantimprov. And for more info on this show, check out @hideouttheatre !
Finally why should people get involved?
This show is all about humanity, and human connection, which is something I think we all need a bit more of right now. We’re aiming for that elusive balance of funny and heartfelt, so I hope it’ll be a welcome relief for any of our audience from the challenges we’re all facing at the moment. Plus – you get to laugh at people’s dumb dating profiles (minus names and pictures, of course!).