Online Show Of The Week – INTERVIEW – These Folk

This week we have something a bit different for our Online Show Of The Week. At the beginning of the year Improv duo These Folk filmed their show to be sent as a submission video to enter festivals, little did they know that it was actually going to be used online as well so people can watch and enjoy! The January show is now available for everyone to watch online and I had to find out all about it and how people are responding to it!

Hello there tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hello! Susan Harrison here. I’m a comedy writer/performer & improviser based in London. I’ve been making stuff up on the spot for roughly the last 10 years via Monkeytoast, Hoopla (both of whom I’ve taught for) and Showstopper The Improvised Musical (of which I’m a cast member) and I’ve been fortunate enough to perform improv all over the place, from Canada to Sweden to Italy.

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

These Folk is an improvised play performed by myself and Justin Brett with folky style songs, all made up on the spot, alongside brilliant musicians Rosie Bergonzi and Curtis Volp. We bring a folkloric flavour to modern day characters/scenarios and pack in a lot of fun, humour and heartfelt harmonies along the way.

What times does it run throughout the day?

Before lockdown we performed our show at The Boulevard Theatre on January 3rd and had it filmed. This filmed version is available to watch on our YouTube channel for free at any time.

How was the project formed?

Myself and Justin were invited to teach and perform at Welcome Festival of Improvisation in Rome. We had toyed with the idea of creating an improvised folky style show and decided to try it out in Italy for the first time accompanied by the festival’s excellent resident musician Alessio Granato on piano. Myself and Justin absolutely loved working with each other in this format and were excited about developing the show, touring it and creating something with a real community feel. We’d hoped to travel around the UK unearthing stories from far and wide and maybe even segueing in to a ceilidh afterwards in some venues. Obviously Covid put a stop to our plans but we hope that one day we can continue setting this show on its path and carry on developing it. After Rome we had a couple of London shows and were lucky enough to meet Rosie Bergonzi and Curtis Volp, both of whom are incredible, intuitive musicians. Rosie (as some of you will know) is also an improviser and is part of London supHER group Hell Yeah! At the Boulevard Theatre the four of us performed together for the first time and it felt like we really clicked which was a very exciting feeling! I’m keen to explore folk style musical improv in more depth and variety as time goes on (and to keep pushing myself) so that, hopefully, this particular show will be just the beginning of a longer journey.

How has it been going so far?

It’s been going well. We were all set to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe at the Gilded Balloon and I was excited to see how the show could develop throughout that time. I always feel like I learn a lot from Edinburgh audiences and I hope that one day we’ll be able to go there and grow our show. It’s been hard not performing in real life for so long, but recently we performed a socially distanced show in a garden which was brilliant, so I’m hoping more bookings like that will open up. Fingers crossed.

This show was originally a filmed version of a performance you did earlier this year – did you ever think it would be used in this way in the future?

I had no idea that a filmed version of our show would prove so useful. We had it professionally filmed in order to use it to apply to Edinburgh venues and potentially touring venues too and I didn’t necessarily expect people to want to watch a filmed version of an improv show just for fun, when they could see improv in real life. Little did I know that seeing improv in real life would become such a rarity!

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

Our Boulevard show is a fun, bite-sized, light hearted story and I think now more than ever it’s important to consume some cheerful content! I’ve definitely got a lot out of watching comedy and entertainment during these bleak times and I hope that maybe we can make a few people smile by watching us too.

Let’s talk about the online world as a whole. What are three things you have learnt about adapting to improv online?

To be honest I am not very qualified to answer this! I’ve learnt that 1) I love being in the same room as people, 2) I miss being on stage immeasurably and erm…3) remember to unmute yourself?

Even when shows are back in theatres in the future will you be considering doing any more online content? 

I am keen to continue making online content for comedy (I make online sketches etc) but I don’t think These Folk will do much online live stuff because the time lag makes delicate harmonies and interesting rhythms quite tricky to say the least!! We’re always up for online interviews though! Maybe once we’re able to be in close proximity again this will change as, if we’re all in the same room, then singing and playing becomes possible again. So, who knows…

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

I will be hunting for safe, outdoor (socially distanced) gigs. If any occur over the next few weeks then please do come along and (as always with improv) expect the unexpected!

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

We are on twitter @TheseFolkShow – come and say hi! Our YouTube channel is These Folk Show

Finally why should people get involved?

Because improvised theatre is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. FACT.

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