INTERVIEW: Southend 48 Hour Improvathon

On the 31st March (next Friday), The fourth annual Southend Improvathon begins and this year, unlike the previous years, this time the event has extended by an extra 24 hours and is running for 48 hours! The event starts at 7pm on the Friday and runs until 2pm on the 2nd April. Fourty improvisers are involved and all the money raised will be going to UNICEF. Today, I find out all about it from Ali James.

Hello Ali – so, tell us all about the Southend Improvathon?

It’s a beautiful gathering of individuals who use their imaginations to go on an epic journey together. The Improvathon is an improvised comedy soap opera in 24 consecutive two hour episodes. There are special DnD episodes this year as it’s the fantasy setting of “Middle Mirth” and family friendly episodes so everyone can enjoy the show. 

How did the idea come about?

It’s is totally inspired but the brilliant work of Extempore Theatre at the London 50 Hour Improvathon and the original soapathon by Die Nasty in Edmonton, Canada. 

It must be a very tiring and also rewarding experience?

It’s completely exhausting, especially for the creative team who start work months beforehand. And totally worth it for the inspiring, memorable and hilarious experience. #friendsforlife #thonbond

What have been the highlights of past years?

An incredible giant 23 person physical theatre snail, a four person family letter admitting their feelings and an astounding Shakespearen sonnet from improviser John Oakes that was so good even, I, the director thought it was written! Not to mention all the hilarity and quick wit! 

And this year you have extended it by another 24 hours! That is going to be intense?

Yes, we’ve also extended the team too thank goodness! There is a great network of voluteers on hand with lighting, box office, sound, props, set design, videography and most importantly food! 

What sort of improv can people expect to see at the event?

Silly narrative. A very funny show with lots of heart and aspiration. 

Forty improvisers are involved as well – that is a lot! 

Yes there will be shifts for certain characters and there is a small core of 10 of us doing all 48. 

Also all the money raised is going to UNICEF, how much do you hope to raise?

£6000. And I have faith we will if people’s kindness so far is anything to go by. 

Why was UNICEF chosen as your charity?

We’re improvisers because there is a want to keep the kid inside us alive. UNICEF do fantastic work for children all over the world, helping to quell fear so their imagination can be free to develop as is every child’s right. 

If people want to get involved and cannot be there in person, is there anyway that they can?

We have an insta page – you can reach out to us there and DM to find out how to contribute. 

What is the best thing about doing this event?

The people. Others kindness before with support, donations and guidance. The cast and crew during the event with inspiring performances all round and flopping on the sofa with my husband afterwards, eating a chow mein and taking a breath.

What is the most challenging?

Keeping upbeat for others when paranoia sets in. But it’s okay; I know it will pass nowadays! 

Finally in three words why should people come to the Improvathon?

Because it’s fun. 

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