It has been just over a year since Katy and Chris founded the Improv Place and since then their website has been a home to the improv community, discussions, lessons and much more. However, it was recently announced that they were doing a rebrand with a new name and a new way to subscribe to the website. When I spoke to them last year about the launch I promised I would talk to them after a year to see how everything was going and what a perfect time to have a catch up and find out all about the new International Improv Station.
Hello Katy and Chris how are you today?
KATY – Really good thanks! We’re working hard, but super excited about everything we’re putting in place.
It’s been just over a year since I spoke to you about The Improv Place how has the launch year been going?
CHRIS – It’s been wonderful. This community that we’ve met through building The Improv Place has been incredible. It makes all the work feel worthwhile.
What have been the highlights of the first year?
KATY – It’s been amazing. Not just in our community, but seeing online improv go through an incredible learning curve and improvisers connecting globally. We were thrilled that our community worked, first of all, and that it’s been financially sustainable as well as having a community feel. We’ve made friends and helped people find one another on there and we’ve all learned a lot more about teaching and performing improv.
The forums on the site really open some interesting points about improv, do you feel you have learnt something new through these discussions?
CHRIS – Oh yes, absolutely. We knew that all we needed to do was start the conversation and we’d get brilliant responses coming in from all the improvisers on the site. It’s been a real honour to log on each day and see what has caught the imagination. We’ve learned so much – just as it should be.
How do you think the site has impacted the way we communicate about improv online?
KATY – I think having a code of conduct with moderators as well as training for inclusion, diversity and held spaces has been invaluable. On many large social platforms and groups, there can be a lot of toxicity and we feel like we’ve escaped that so far.
It feels like the site has also allowed improvisers who would not normally meet as they are in other countries to connect more. Has this faced any challenges if so what have they been?
CHRIS – We’ve realised we can’t cater to every time zone – sometimes we have to sleep. HA! Obviously that impacts the countries that are directly opposite the UK the most. But we’re hopeful we can deputise some of our amazing moderation team to perhaps start running a few more Southern Hemisphere specific events.
With the world slowly returning to normal will the improv place be adapting to connecting improv to the real world?
KATY – Actually, we’re doubling-down! We love the space and access that online improv has provided for people and we’ve learned so much about it that we’re staying virtual for good. That was also our original intention (pre-pandemic). We are however, looking at things like getting interviews and streamed shows and classes from live festivals. That’s an iteration that will likely come out in our future.
You are now heading into year two! What do you have planned?
KATY – The first major thing is that we’re going through the process of changing our name. We’re supporting another The Improv Place by rebranding ourselves to International Improv Station with a fresh new NASA space vibe! We’ve also recently done a survey of existing members to see what they want and we’re actioning a lot of stuff that they have fed back. We will schedule further ahead, tell everyone what our plans are as we adapt and make sure people know how best they can use the tools and the platform that we’re providing.
What can people look forward to?
CHRIS – We’re going to support more shows and put on more classes. We’re finding new ways to have fun and be social together as well. Basically we’re looking to the community to tell us where to go next and what to concentrate on. We’re really listening and trying to be reactive to what we hear.
For those who have not joined the International Improv Station yet, why is this the perfect time to jump on board?
KATY – We’ve changed our membership model. Now, instead of setting one price and asking people to reach out for scholarships, anyone can join and set their own annual or monthly subscription. This way, we hope to make access simple and fair but keep the professionalism of the platform and safety of the community intact.
What lessons do you have lined up?
CHRIS – We’re going to put on more lessons personally – stuff we’re both interested in – genres and styles of improv. We’re also getting some brilliant guest teachers like Liz Allen to run courses. There’ll be a new masterclass in creating an improv show and a continuation of our popular 6-pack format where you get a different teacher every week.
What do you want the International Improv Station to be by 2022?
CHRIS – That’s the cool thing. We don’t know. We want to be led by the people who use the site.
Finally why should people be paying the International Improv Station attention?
CHRIS – We are almost certainly going to have embroidered patches like NASA space missions have. I mean everyone loves a patch, right? That’s universal