A new year means there are lots of new and exciting shows, music, albums, comedy and much around the corner and we have an exciting month for you! In true Phoenix Remix tradition we are chatting to lots of different acts all about what they have in store for 2022. The act that is leading the way in this months feature is musical improv troupe Acaprov. They have a very exciting year in store for the troupe including new members who are also going to there to enjoy the ride. All month I have a very special exclusive interview with the band to talk all things improv. This week we get to know all about them!
Hello Acaprov, so how did you form?
Lisa Lynn (our Director) founded the group after she won a grant from The Nursery Theatre to do so. Acaprov came out of their fantastic Nursery Originals programme. Lisa joined forces with CSI: Crime Scene Improv Co-Founder Lee Apsey (with whom she now Co-Directs Multiverse Impro) and the pair set about advertising the auditions. They picked 10 performers: 2 actors, 2 singers, 2 improvisers, 2 dancers, 2 beatboxers and then hired Tiziana Pozzo to teach them all Body Percussion. The rest as they say is history!
How did you come up with the name Acaprov ?
Acapella + Improv = Acaprov
(The back up name was Improvella, but it sounds both more ‘Cinderella’ Panto and more Novella so could be misleading. We may still use it for Christmas panto’s though)
What style of Improv do you do?
Long form narrative. Usually wholesome organic and heartfelt.
Recently the improv scene has been very different – how have you adapted to doing shows online?
We didn’t. We found it impossible to sync up our cast size live; so we opted for using the time to upskill independently instead, then share what we’d been working on that week.
What other improv groups are you a fan of and why?
DTRS (Do the Right Scene) for their camaraderie, their talent and the sheer amount of fun they seem to be having! SHOWSTOPPER! and Baby Wants Candy for setting the bar in SHOW. NorthCoast and Freestyle Love Supreme for setting the bar in rap. Impromptu Shakespeare for their genius and romantic imagery. Austentacious for their wit; and 10 Thousand Million Love Stories, The Actors Nightmare and TJ & Dave, for their incredible truthful acting.
Tell us about the styles of improv you enjoy and why?
As a collective we enjoy all improv, and the very fact that there is something for everyone. We respect the variety and whatever brings people joy. Joy is a big aim of our rehearsals and our show. In terms, of the styles we enjoy doing at Acaprov, we live for Naturalism in improv – less game-based, more organic, Meisner style reacting. We have many professional actors in the cast, including our director, so we live for authenticity in the moment. We have some more premis-based improvisers in the group, and those who are exquisite at game – so our aim is to be authentic whilst allowing everyone to be their best selves – ‘Tools not rules’ is one of our motto’s, so once the show starts it just about listening, making every body else look good, and feeding them what we know will delight them – everybody playing to their strengths.
What are some of your earliest memories of your early improv performances?
Beautiful chaos! Trying to do too much too soon out of sheer excitement; and learning the hard way that simple is best. We would have people being multiple instruments in the band, whilst trying to keep the key and time signature, whilst also trying to listen, pass, sing witty rhyming dialogue and dance! If you think of the opening of Mary Poppins with Dick Van Dyke and his one man band, but multiply that by 12 people you will start to get the picture!
What three things are you looking forward to about performing in an improv show?
Interacting with our audience
Showing off our new players and ideas
Having fun with the AcaFam
‘You are enough’ from Lisa and ‘Dare to be lovely’ from Lee – both learnt from other teachersAcaprov
What are your aims for your troupe for rest of the year?
Consistency. We cast professional triple-threat performers and train them to be septuple-threats (Sing, Dance, Act, Rap, Improvise, BeatBox and do Body Percussion) – which while being one of our strengths, also leaves us open to absences as cast book West End Shows, Cruise Ship contracts and long tours etc– because of this we have to cast new people and repeat things from scratch (as opposed to building on our new ideas and continuing to climb the stairs to success). With all of our new cast members in place, for 2022, we hope to sky-rocket to meet our potential, and utilise our weekly rehearsals to go from a consistently good show, to a consistently phenomenal show. A pool of 20 hopefully leads to a solid 10+ being there every week (we hope) as nothing is as valuable as commitment, chemistry and practice.
How do you rehearse a format such as your own?
We look at what needs our immediate attention based on the latest shows, as well as picking from our wish list of things we want to try – and they become the 1 or 2 focuses that week, as well as drilling the basics every week and running the show. We learn the most by doing, by our time spent on stage, which is why regular shows are so important to us.
What is one of YOUR favourite Acaprov sets you have done and why?
The CiderHouse E7 M&M World show – it was a new venue and several cast members first show. It just had a magic and excitement to it from the get go. With all of our players playing to their strengths, it really had it all – wit, detailed spacework, exquisite listening, connection, well timed walk-ons, beautiful relationships, exciting story arcs, powerful singing and RAP that was just…FIRE. Huge thanks to event organiser Dupe (who loved it so much he is now a HOOPLA student!) for hiring us. Bringing improv to people who do not know what it is, and seeing them fall in love with it, is always extra rewarding!
As a collective we enjoy all improv, and the very fact that there is something for everyone. We respect the variety and whatever brings people joy.Acaprov
What is the best thing about being in Acaprov ?
The people. AcaFam. Because we see each other every week, and always spend the first 30 minutes just checking in, we see each other often more than we see our actual families – it is such a delight to work with such ego-free, kind and stupidly talented people.
What is the most challenging?
Cast size. With an 8 person MINIMUM for a show, 10 ideal; we have a pool of 20. Just that many excited septuple-threat adults in one room is a lot of energy to channel – but also why there’s so much magic! At the AGM we had to put in a 24 hour completion rule for Doodles, as trying to get that many people to get back to you quickly is a nightmare.
What have been some of your specifically favourite scenes you have created so far in a show and why?
Scott and Lisa in the MiniGolf show at HOOPLA August 2021 was Dreamy. Both of them talking about making up dances as primary school best friends (both knowing if they knew each other back then that they 100% would have) then both simultaneously improvising ‘The Kylie Dance’ of their characters child hood (with our director and dance captain having no hesitation) pulling a Ross and Monica NYE (IYKYK) style mini-routine out of the bag! Lisa’s family were in that night too, laughing extremely loudly as they also knew it to be true!
Matt and guest Ali James (SHOWSTOPPER!) in a show set at a library – Matt as an OAP library owner giving Ali (who’s character was a popular influencer, questioning her sexuality) advice from philosophy books, in one of Matt’s signature, incredible freestyle RAP’s.
Beth as a shy office worker in a Christmas show at The London Improv Theatre, hiding her secret Santa vibrator gift in the microwave, which kept vibrating during the scene with hilarious consequences!
Jamal pulling out a spinning high kick and flip up off the floor in Bulgaria at SO Improfest, and no one, in 2 years of rehearsals, knowing he could do that!
What have been the worst?
Nerves leading to poor listening or no-and-ing as people ‘panic-prov’ trying to take control – we have all been guilty of it at some point.
Who would be your dream guest to appear and why?
Lin Manuel Miranda – let’s go big or go home! His musical and comedy genius make him perfect for Acaprov, he also seems like a really kind, fun and lovely guy, which is always our top priority when hiring.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given about improv and why?
Our mantra’s are ‘You are enough’ from Lisa and ‘Dare to be lovely’ from Lee – both learnt from other teachers. But our top advice most recently was from Lee Tearrell (Laughter Academy) ‘you can’t control the sea, you can only learn to swim in it’ apt for both improv and taking a dip in SouthEnd!
If people want to find out more about you where can they find you on social media?
www.acaprov.comWe are @AcaprovMusical on Insta Facebook ,Twitter and TikTok
More from Acaprov next week