I think most people would say that 2016 was a bit of a shit year for all of us on planet Earth. And yet it wasn’t all bad; there have been some wonderful things happen, like being close to a viable Ebola vaccine and an upturn in the tiger population and the ozone layer repairing itself. In the impro world, we try to ‘be changed’ during a scene. I like to imagine 2016 as a terrible improviser. Last January, it leapt onto the stage without any thought to the rest of us and did a big shouty shout about how ‘I’m gonna kill all your favourite people, muther-f*ckers, and there’s going to be war and racism and terrorism and Brexit and who knows what else, because I’m really, really angry’; by December, at the end of a scene that no one wanted to be in anymore, I’m sure we all heard a faint muttering of ‘okay, I agree, maybe I should calm down and make life better for my scene partners. I’ll change. I promise. Cut to 2017.’
Well, it’s one philosophy. Story Kitchen Impro have had some fun and some not-so-fun moments with the year’s events along the way in any case, representing the good, the bad and the downright Trumpugly in our Theatresports shows. If this year teaches us anything, it’s that we, as artists should continue to consider it our absolute duty to seek truth, ridicule the ridiculous and continue to show through our characters and stories, that the bigots can be beaten. We shouldn’t shy away from an accurate portrayal of these difficult people, events and times – we should shine a light on them, and show that they, like 2016, can be changed.
For Story Kitchen, 2016 was the start of the journey, and 2017 promises to continue that journey with gusto. We’ve got a huge year ahead that I’m really excited about. Our weekly Maestro show starts on 10th January with an 8 week run at the London Improv Theatre, a lovely venue near Finchley Road that seats the audience cabaret style and has a bar and food served throughout the show. We’re really excited about the show and hope you’ll support us by coming along. You can book tickets here. We’d love to see you!
Another really exciting development is the start of daytime beginner impro classes at the OSO Arts Centre in Barnes, again launching on 10th January (it’s a busy day!). We’ve got a range of people signed up – generally a very different demographic to the average London impro class thanks to location and time of day: all women (although men are very welcome!) and all seeking a new challenge, and I’m very excited to see what they have to offer, as I think there’s some great territory to explore. I hope the participants are brave enough to showcase the results sometime! If you’re interested in signing up, you’ve got until Monday, and you can do it here.
If you’re not knocking around SW13 in daytime hours, we’re also running a one day workshop, ‘Short Form Storytelling’, on Saturday 11th Februrary 10.30am-5.30pm at the London Improv Theatre, and you can book a ticket or find out more about that here. Everyone is welcome. We’re aiming to run a few of these workshops this year, and you can keep up to date with what we’re doing through Facebook or Twitter. If you’re a group that would prefer a private workshop, please get in touch.
As well as the new shows and classes, we are delighted to return to our monthly slot at the Miller for Theatresports, starting on 28th January. The Miller has been a great place for us this past year, with packed audiences that we are so grateful for continuing to support us. We’ll also be performing Theatresports at the OSO Theatre in Barnes on 24th March which will be a first for the venue and a first from us away from the safe and supportive haven of the Miller. You can book tickets for that here.
I’m so excited and proud that we have got this far in so little time. It’s not been easy on occasions, but the joy and pleasure of seeing the company grow and flourish, of seeing audiences laughing, and best of all, ‘ahh-ing’ at our work, of watching students learn new skills and falling in love with the craft, has meant we’ve had an amazing journey so far. The joy of sharing impro is a feeling I love and hope I can carry on giving this year too. Roll on 2017.
Maestro Impro, at the London Improv Theatre, from 10 January. Tickets £6, show starts 7.30pm