This month we are travelling all the way (well metaphorically) to Amsterdam to learn all about the improv scene there! All months we will be chatting to easylaughs that offer comedy shows, improv and stand up classes and improv workshops, in English. Today we find out how the team have adjusted this year to a Global Pandemic.
How has the pandemic been in Amsterdam?
The Netherlands took a very laid back attitude towards the lockdown, in a good way. There were lockdown measures, restaurants were closed, events were cancelled but people were always allowed to go out and get exercise and generally still able to go about their basic day to day living. Since the lockdown has been over, there have still been less tourists which make for a quieter atmosphere in the city.
How have easylaughs adapted to doing online shows?
We did a run of online shows during the worst of the lockdown in the Netherlands. Online offers some unique challenges but also some cool new possibilities around framing. Still, we prefer the immediacy and excitement of a live flesh and blood show.
Has it been easy?
We had to stop our courses for a while, but fortunately the lockdown mostly happened over our summer break. The distancing rules of live shows took some getting used to, but now it is almost second nature and we’ve managed to have some fun with it.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Getting an audience for the online shows when you are offering something that is just not as compelling as real life and you are competing with almost literally the rest of the world. Also we used Zoom as our medium, from our homes, so our technical production was very limited.
How do you rehearse for an online show?
The same way we rehearse for a normal show but then online. A rehearsal would have some warm up games and then we would try out whatever format we were doing. We tried to do formats that fit the medium of online/Zoom, so not just online versions of what we were doing in real life. That seemed to work, but we still needed to rehearse an idea a few times.
What has been the key three things you have learnt from performing and rehearsing online?
When using free software, you get what you paid for.
You don’t have to just be a talking head.
Time lag changes everything.
I see that rehearsals and workshops are now being performed in real life – how was it coming back together in reality?
Amazing! We were all a little apprehensive at first, not being that sure how things would work with the new safety measures, but the people at CREA and Cinetol have done an amazing job of putting procedures in place to make it possible and safe to perform again. Once the stage lights went up, it was as though no time had passed at all.
Has it been hard to adapt real improv to social distancing?
There are sometimes moments where someone will need to be reminded of their distance, but usually it’s incorporated into something the character says or does in that moment. It was something we had to remind ourselves of a fair bit at first, but over time it becomes second nature.
Will you continue to do any online content in the future once everything goes back to ‘normal’?
We have continued to run our online workshops and classes as we got a number of performers and students who wouldn’t otherwise have had an opportunity to take part, based in a number of different countries. Who knows how long it will continue, but as long as there’s demand, we’ll carry on.