Tag Archives: Uncategorized

MidlandsImprov.com: GIG GUIDE: JANUARY 2018

14 shows this month in Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry & Northampton.

25542485_1359233520852075_5621904214850908843_o

 

***

BIRMINGHAM

 

WEDS 10TH – CHERRY REDS

Freewheelers:  Experimental theatre from musical group Off Broad Street and female duo Squidheart.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Freewheelersimprov/

THURS 11TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  Show featuring the house team Bunkum Factory and special guests Box Of Frogs.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

MON 15TH – BLUE ORANGE THEATRE

Box Of Frogs: Monthly show in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with all your favourite improv games.  Absolutely free – ‘laugh, or your money back!’

https://www.facebook.com/BoxofFrogsImpro/

WEDS 17TH – THE VICTORIA

The Kneejerks: A night of comedy and theatre, featuring sketches and scenes and all completely free.  

https://www.facebook.com/thekneejerksUK/

THURS 18TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  The house team Bunkum Factory will amuse and delight along with a special guest.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

TUES 30TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  First performance by graduates of the Fat Penguin school.    

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

WEDS 31ST – THE VICTORIA

Baron Sternlook: Scenes, songs and an entire musical based on your suggestions.

https://www.facebook.com/baronsternlookimprov/

***

NOTTINGHAM

MON 29TH/TUES 30TH/WEDS 31ST – NOTTINGHAM NEW THEATRE

And Another Thing!:  What do you always wish you had told somebody? An entire one-act play created each night by the University Of Nottingham Improv Society.

https://www.facebook.com/UoNImprov/

WEDS 31ST – THE ANGEL MICROBREWERY

Smash Night: Multiple acts spontaneously turn suggestions into scenes and stories bound to be breath-taking and bloody hilarious.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk

***

LEICESTER

SAT 6TH – CRITERION FREE HOUSE

The Same Faces: Quick fire sketches in the style of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

MON 15TH – UPSTAIRS AT THE WESTERN

The Same Faces:Uncle Armando” show where the group perform scenes inspired by comedian Iszi Lawrence.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

***

COVENTRY

***

NORTHAMPTON

SAT 27TH – THE BLACK PRINCE 

The Same Faces:  Monthly Northampton show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

***

Have I missed a show?  Get in touch and let me know.

facebook.com/midlandsimprov/                                    @MidlandsImprov


MidlandsImprov.com: REVIEW OF THE YEAR: 2017

wordcloud 2017

There were 275 improv shows in the Midlands during 2017.  That’s five shows a week across Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry & Northampton.  Hidden away in small theatres and rooms above pubs across the country, there are great nights of entertainment all around you if you know where to look.

The highlight of 2017 was the Birmingham Improv Festival.  Filling an entire week in October, it featured 24 different groups from across the country performing to packed houses every night in the Blue Orange Theatre.  I loved seeing so many great shows on my doorstep and discussing them afterwards with fellow audience members & the performers themselves.  Click here for a quick review of every show.

Despite seeing most of the shows at the Festival I only found the time to write a full review for one of them.  Ten Thousand Million Love Stories provided “an intimate and honest portrayal of the many sides of love”.  It’s those quiet emotional moments which stay with me, despite having a bigger reaction during the show to the joyful silly bits and the impressive skills displayed by Heather & Jules.

Other shows I reviewed in 2017:

Several local groups took their show on the road during 2017.  The biggest splash was made by LoveHard, a duo who perform mostly scripted theatre shows with room in each performance for moments of improvised fun.  Broadway Baby praised them as “unparalleled in comedy writing and delivery” and Voice magazine said they were “an unforgettable Fringe experience”.  Twitter fans called them “simply hilarious”, “brilliantly entertaining” and “tear-jerkingly funny”.  You can read the full collection of audience reviews here.

Other shows that went on tour and got big audience reactions in 2017:

My most popular blogpost this year wasn’t about a local group or event.  It was a more general essay about how much more there is to improv than quickfire gags.  Improv does this well, but if that’s not your thing you probably think improv isn’t for you.  Yet improv can do all sorts of comedy, and indeed all sorts of theatre.  There is something for everyone in an artform that melds itself to change with every audience.  Yes, there really is more to improv than “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”.

 


Graeme Rose's Blog: Revisiting #StopFoodCrime

On the back of the hugely successful Bullring performances back in May 2016, “The Hand That Feeds” was re-presented in Castle Vale, and then Victoria Square, Birmingham, at the invitation of Councillor Clare Spencer. River Rea productions have created a trailer which documents this latest chapter in the life of the project;

Consumers place a huge amount of trust in the labelling of our food, and in the  supply chains that deliver food to our shops, markets and plates. But how possible is it to know what it is that you’re really eating? The horsemeat scandal exposed vulnerabilities in the supply chain, and it was only through DNA testing of frozen lasagnas that the true meat source was identified. There have been countless other stories about Food Criminality – such as the tainting of Paprika and other spices,  the ‘cutting’ of baby formula in China, etc., but the idea of eating horsemeat touched a nerve at the heart of local sensibilities. That is why the story broke in the UK in the way that it did back in 2013.

Criminal networks recognise this vulnerability in food systems, and know that huge profits can be made – not just in the ‘dodgy’ low end produce but also high-end exclusive items. There has never been a greater need for adequate policing of our food supply networks. As UK food prices set to rise under the spectre and reality of Brexit, there will be increased temptation to ‘cut’ and dilute quality in the name of profit.

Prof. Chris Elliott, the scientific advisor on this project, was commissioned by the Government to write a report on the impact of the horsemen scandal. His Twitterfeed is an excellent way of keeping up to date with breaking stories which do not necessarily make it through to the mainstream media.

Enjoy your lunch!

 

 


MidlandsImprov.com: GIG GUIDE: DECEMBER 2017

Fat Penguin Santa

12 shows this month in Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry & Northampton.

***

BIRMINGHAM

SAT 2ND – THE CRESCENT

Jumprov: Special Christmas show from the UK’s first diverse improv theatre company.

https://jumprov.com/

WEDS 13TH – THE VICTORIA

The Kneejerks: A night of comedy and theatre, featuring sketches and scenes and all completely free.  

https://www.facebook.com/thekneejerksUK/

THURS 14TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Rik Carranza come to life.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

MON 18TH – BLUE ORANGE THEATRE

Box Of Frogs: Monthly show in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with all your favourite improv games.  Absolutely free – ‘laugh, or your money back!’

https://www.facebook.com/BoxofFrogsImpro/

THURS 21ST – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  Special Christmas show where Santa and the house team Bunkum Factory bring audience wishes to life.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

THURS 28TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

Fat Penguin Improv:  Comedy sketches based on a true story, as told by a special mystery guest.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

***

NOTTINGHAM

THURS 14TH – THE MALT CROSS

Gorilla Burger: Theatre karaoke where you can be the star.  Or you can just sit back and enjoy an evening of unplanned, uncensored improv comedy.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk

***

LEICESTER

MON 18TH – UPSTAIRS AT THE WESTERN – The Same Faces

The Same Faces:Uncle Armando” show where the group perform scenes inspired by comedian Stella Graham.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

 

***

COVENTRY

THURS 7TH – WARWICK UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

The Improv Musical/WITS: A one hour musical receives it’s only performance, followed by an improv battle royale with 12 performers competing against each other.  Raising money for Care 4 Calais.

https://www.facebook.com/theimprovmusical/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/warwickimprov/

FRI 8TH – ESQUIRES COFFEE HOUSE

Wow Impro: Free comedy night from the Coventry-based improv troupe.

https://www.facebook.com/wowimprocomedy/

***

NORTHAMPTON

SAT 30TH – THE BLACK PRINCE 

The Same Faces:  Monthly Northampton show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

***

Have I missed a show?  Get in touch and let me know.

facebook.com/midlandsimprov/                                    @MidlandsImprov


MidlandsImprov.com: There’s more to improv than “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

WhoseLineIsItAnyway

Thousands of people would be happier and have more joy in their lives if they really believed what I’m about to say:

There’s more to improv than “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

Don’t get me wrong.  “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was great.  It ran for a decade on Channel 4.  It was funny.  It was clever.  People still remember it despite it finishing nearly 20 years ago.

Here’s what I remember.  Clive Anderson acting as a gameshow host.  Greg Proops pretending 6 foot long chili peppers were earrings, or babies, or whatever.  Ryan Stiles being a superhero with an unusual power, or hosting a party where Tony Slattery is acting like an elephant.

Scenes were short and funny.  Crazy and disposable.

Yet the improv I’ve seen in real life has been much more than that.

I’ve seen scenes ranging from five seconds to five minutes.  I’ve laughed more at what the characters have done than the clever words they’ve said.  I’ve watched sad, quiet realistic moments and expertly crafted horror and musicals.  I’ve enjoyed watching the journey of a character and seeing them get their hearts desire.

More than that, I’ve seen moments where the performers have had glorious triumphs and complete failures.  Both extremes lead to joy when there is a mood that celebrates what is happening right here, right now.  And I’ve had countless hilarious you-had-to-be-there moments, where there’s so much going on that trying to explain the joke is pointless.

There’s a hundred different flavours of improv out there.  “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” was just one of them.  Treat yourself to another.


Graeme Rose's Blog: Sleep Has Its House

Sleep has its House May 1986.jpg

A photo rediscovery; Sleep Has Its House, 2nd year devised project, Dept. of Theatre Studies, University of Lancaster. Directed by Pete Brooks, Nuffield Theatre Studio, Lancaster, May 1986.

From L to R: Holly, Kelsey Michael, Alison Wayman, Nicky Johnstone, Dave Cattermole, Graeme Rose, Kath Anderson, Johnny Brown, Jools Gilson, Sara Middens, Rosaleen Lee, Claire McCleod; Sound design by Graeme Miller and Rhys Davies; lx design by Pete Brooks and Tam Drury.

As the newly appointed Fellow-in-Theatre, Pete Brooks, introduced a new theatre language and a new world of possibility to the Theatre Studies Department at Lancaster. This was his first staged project in the Department. Performed barely a week after his company, Impact Theatre Co-operative presented their last ever performance of  The Carrier Frequency, in Warsaw – on the night that Chernobyl exploded. Pete formed a new company, Insomniac Prods. and restaged a developed version of this show – inspired by Oliver Sachs’s ‘Awakenings‘ – which he titled The Sleep, which toured the UK in 1987 featuring Sarah Jane Morris.

Inspired  and motivated by this new way of working, several of the faces in the above picture decided to form a company of our own – Kath, Sara, Claire and myself. The company was named Glory What Glory, and Pete continued to mentor us, co-directing the company’s first piece, Falling Into The Light, which toured in the late spring and autumn of 1988; Jocelyn Pook composing a powerful, driving soundtrack.

 

 

 

 

 


MidlandsImprov.com: GIG GUIDE: NOVEMBER 2017

Foghorn Secret Life

FRI 3RD – PORTLAND BUILDING

[NG7 2RD]

UoN Improv Show:  Comedy games from students at the University of Nottingham, featuring performers old and new  

https://www.facebook.com/UoNImprov/

SAT 4TH – CRITERION FREE HOUSE

[LE1 5JN]

The Same Faces:  Monthly Leicester show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.  

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

MON 6TH – ANGEL MICROBREWERY

[NG1 1LG]

One Word Story Land:  The Red Herrings will make up a complete coherent story from a single word from the audience. Laugh, cry, applaud, leave.  Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

http://www.nottinghamcomedyfestival.co.uk/calendar_225405.html

TUES 7TH – THE LACEHOUSE

[NG1 1PS]

Nottingham Improv Comedy Experience:  Comedy sketches and scences followed by a chance to play on stage with the performers.  Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/improvnottingham/

WEDS 8TH – ISLAND BAR

[B1 1LT]

Baron Sternlook’s Improvised Musical:  Discover the history of a unknown musical duo and then see one of their most famous shows, created on the spot.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/baronsternlookimprov

WEDS 8TH – ANGEL MICROBREWERY

[NG1 1LP]

The Clones/The Vox Pops:  A double bill packed with improvised comedy.  Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk/

THURS 9TH – THE MALT CROSS

[NG1 6FG]

Gorilla Burger:  Theatre karaoke where you can be the star.  Or you can just sit back and enjoy an evening of unplanned, uncensored improv comedy.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk

THURS 9TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Rob Coleman come to life.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

FRI 10TH – ANGEL MICROBREWERY

[NG1 1LP]

Rhymes Against Humanity/Four Far Away:  A double bill of musical theatre and fantastic fiction.  Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk/

FRI 10TH – ESQUIRES COFFEE HOUSE

[CV1 1JD]

Wow Impro:  Free comedy night from the Coventry-based improv troupe.

https://www.facebook.com/wowimprocomedy/

FRI 10TH – ROYAL AND DERNGATE  

[NN1 1DP]

Austentatious:  A previously undiscovered Jane Austen story is told for the very first (and very last) time.

http://www.austentatiousimpro.com/shows/tour/

SAT 11TH – THE LORD ROBERTS  

[NG1 3AN]

Nicholas Holt: Dancer and comedian combine, choreographing and performing simultaneously on stage. Sometimes funny. Sometimes not. Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

http://www.nottinghamcomedyfestival.co.uk/calendar_225472.html

SUN 12TH – WARWICK ARTS CENTRE

[CV4 7AL]

The Noise Next Door: They’re causing a commotion with their fourth nationwide tour of side-splitting jokes, jaw-dropping characters and mind-blowing songs.  Two performances, a daytime show for families and an evening show for adults

http://thenoisenextdoor.co.uk/tour2017/

SUN 12TH – DANCE4  

[NG3 2AR]

D.A.N.C.E.: Comedians will do their sets and dancers will improvise around them, and then they’ll swap. Part of the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

http://www.nottinghamcomedyfestival.co.uk/calendar_225508.html

TUES 14TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  Showcase – first ever performance by the latest workshop group, with support from Bunkum Factory.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

WEDS 15TH – THE VICTORIA 

[B1 1BN]

The Kneejerks:  A night of comedy and theatre, featuring sketches and scenes and all completely free.  

https://www.facebook.com/thekneejerksUK/

THURS 16TH – PATRICK KAVANAGH

[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Josh Pugh come to life.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

FRI 17TH – BRIDGE HOUSE THEATRE  

[CV34 6PP]

Austentatious:  A previously undiscovered Jane Austen story is told for the very first (and very last) time.

http://www.austentatiousimpro.com/shows/tour/

FRI 17TH – CHERRY REDS  

[B1 1BN]

The Improlectuals:  A night of comedy improv games to raise money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham city centre.

https://twitter.com/improlectuals

FRI 17TH –  BROMSGROVE ARTRIX

[B60 1GN

The Secret Life Of The Audience: Foghorn Unscripted will combine the memories, hopes and dreams of different audience members to create a life story on stage. 

http://foghornunscripted.com/

MON 20TH – UPSTAIRS AT THE WESTERN

[LE3 0GA]

The Same Faces:  “Uncle Armando” show where the group perform scenes inspired by comedian Jim Smallman.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

MON 20TH – BLUE ORANGE THEATRE 

[B18 6AD]

Box Of Frogs:  Monthly show in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter with all your favourite improv games.  Absolutely free, with their usual cast iron guarantee – ‘laugh, or your money back!’

https://www.facebook.com/BoxofFrogsImpro/

THURS 23RD – PATRICK KAVANAGH

[B13 8BX]

Fat Penguin Improv:  See the unscripted stories from deep inside the mind of a standup comedian Craig Deeley come to life.  

https://www.facebook.com/FatPenguinImprovComedy

FRI 24TH – BIRMINGHAM REP

[B1 2EP]

Jumprov:  Comedy greatness from the UK’s first BAME improv troupe.  Part of Monologue Slam UK.

https://jumprov.com/

SAT 25TH – FOODIES.ROCKS 

[NN1 1TY]

The Same Faces:  Monthly Northampton show, taking ideas from you to make brilliant comedy sketches live on stage.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

SAT 25TH – THE COMEDY LOFT 

[B1 2HF]

The Noise Next Door:  The chaotic foursome bring their distinctive brand of comedy to central Birmingham.

https://www.facebook.com/TheSameFaces/

WEDS 29TH – ANGEL MICROBREWERY

[NG1 1LP]

Smash Night:  Witness a range of improv teams take to the stage with nothing but their wits and transform YOUR suggestions spontaneously into  breath-taking scenes.

https://www.facebook.com/missimp.co.uk/

 

Have I missed a show?  Get in touch and let me know.

facebook.com/midlandsimprov/                                    @MidlandsImprov


MidlandsImprov.com: REVIEW: TEN THOUSAND MILLION LOVE STORIES

Heather and Jules

Heather Urquhart and Jules Munns are two of the best improvisers in the UK.  Heather is a member of the Olivier-award-winning Showstoppers and has won the UK Improv Smackdown championship.  Jules is a director of Impromptu Shakespeare and founder of the Slapdash International Improv Festival.  Both perform regularly with The Maydays and run the Nursery improv theatre in central London.  With performers as good as this, you know you are in for a treat.

Heather & Jules introduce the show by asking everyone to close their eyes and think about what real-life stories pop into their minds when they hear the words “first kiss”, “the one” and “the one that got away”.  In this show one audience member told the story of a break-up in a Waterstones cafe, chosen as a location since neither party was likely to go back there, and another told how he knew his best friend was destined for heartbreak in the near future.  Using this inspiration, the pair created a series of scenes exploring these facets of love, along with other bits of silliness along the way.  We saw two university students at the end of their romantic relationship, met a newly married couple moving in to their own Disney-like castle, and got to know the staff at Waterstones who eavesdropped on all the heart-to-heart conversations in their cafe.

There was lots to enjoy in this one hour show.  Each scene revealed a little bit more about the characters involved, and indeed a little bit more about love, as each person we met was at a different point in their love lives.  It was impressive to see the two performers fill the stage with multiple characters in the same scene, including swapping roles so that both Heather and Jules portrayed the same character at different points in the story.  The joyful silly sequences got the biggest laughs and cheers, with the highlight in this performance being the convoluted routine involved in opening the castle doors.  But the real heart of this show is in the quiet moments when we see genuine emotion, an intimate and honest portrayal of the many sides of love.

 

 

Ten Thousand Million Love Stories can be seen at theatre festivals across the UK. 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/TenThousandMillionLoveStories

 

 


Graeme Rose's Blog: Looking Backward: 2000-1887

 

The Department of Drama & Theatre Arts Presents

 

Looking Backward

 

by Edward Bellamy. Adapted by Graeme Rose. Devised by Graeme Rose and the Cast.

 

 

After consulting a mesmerist for his insomnia, Julian wakens from a 130 year-long slumber to find himself in the 21st Century. His new hosts guide him through the changed world. Adapted from Edward Bellamy’s time-travelling 1887 novel, this group-devised piece invites us to reconcile Bellamy’s utopian vision – complete with technological advancements, universal income, shopping centres, credit cards and equal rights – with the known realities of the past Century.