It’s All Kicking Off

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After what has been a longer Christmas break than usual, the improv sessions kick in again this week. On Sunday, we’re at the DukeBox Theatre in Brighton (or Hove, depending on exactly where you think the dividing line is, and exactly how pedantic you want to be about it). The drop-in sessions are every Sunday at 7pm, and are open to terrified beginners as well as seasoned regulars. This is the sort of thing that’s meant to be welcoming to everybody, but I’ve noticed even so that sometimes both those groups of people can be wary of one another: the beginners are terrified that the regulars are going to leave them in their wake (and be ‘funnier’, or ‘cleverer’ than they are), whereas the ones who have been doing it awhile can sometimes be concerned that a newbie might make lots of fundamental mistakes that might stymy what they’re doing.

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Look, this was the first image about ‘confused’ I could find. I think we all ought to be grateful that she’s not laughing at salad.

Leaving aside for a moment the discussion as to exactly how many ‘mistakes’ there are in improv, I like to think that we at IronClad Improv really do do a good job of pleasing most of the people most of the time. And anyway, I’m not sure that you’re ever at a point where you can stop learning: even if that’s in the presence of someone who’s coming up the path a year behind you. And I’ve found that improvisers on their very first day manage to teach me stuff about the craft. If I’m teaching a session that discusses avoidance of questions, and someone’s immediate response is ‘why?’, then that demands (after we stop for a moment to honour the inherent irony that just happened) a discussion, an answer, a response. And, as most teachers will know, the standard answer – the one that you were taught, the one that you’ve read in the textbooks, the one that you deliver in the majority of your classes – may no longer be the right one. Or at least, not relevant to the person asking the question. (plus, it might be that they’re not precisely asking the question you think they’re asking: the other challenge about teaching the same stuff to different students is that it can be terribly tempting to assume that you know what they’re talking about before they’re done talking. The other oft-repeated lesson is to listen).

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But WHY am I a stock photograph for ‘tantrum’? I HATE YOU.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the Sunday night workshops, and I’m pleased to announce that we’re back at the Printers Playhouse in Eastbourne, as well. Those sessions are on Tuesday nights, at 7.30. The Printers Playhouse, if you don’t know it yet, is a lovely space with a gorgeous little bar of its own downstairs. Once again, the sessions are open to beginners and regulars alike. The PPH is really easy to find (it’s just a few minutes from the train station), and the website looks like this.

It’s a busy couple of months elsewhere to. PopHeart Productions are curating Not Just The Companion (of which we’ll talk about more another time), and Cast Iron Theatre have a few things coming up very soon: there’s our next short story night at the end of February, where we’ll be reading tales all linked by a common theme: ‘Yellow’. It might be that you have a story to share that fits that theme (however tenuously) – if so, feel free to email it to us. There’s a couple of guidelines which you can find by clicking through to our facebook event, here.   The deadline is hurtling around the corner: it’s February 10th, not long before the actual performance night.

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No, it was your fault this popped into your head. Nothing to do with me.

Also, we’re on the hunt for short plays – of around ten minutes in length – for our next regular play night (this one called Cast Iron IX). Again, if you’ve got something you’d like to see on stage, drop us a line, or see the relevant facebook event with details and guidance. The deadline on that is coming up pretty sharpish, too – about two weeks away – and the production will form part of the 2017 Hove Grown Festival.

In other news, I’m managing to (still) ride the New Year’s Resolve, and be fairly disciplined with the writing. Mostly, this is editing, and finally putting to bed, NEVER TO BE RE-WRITTEN AGAIN, stuff that already exists, but I had thus far only written a second or third draft level of quality to it. Or, indeed, stuff that I had thus far only written about 75% off before being distracted by some SHINY NEW THING. Part of this is because I’m emboldened by having a story published in an actual magazine –

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Oh, have you been published? You haven’t mentioned it in ages. Please, do go on.

– and with that comes with it a certain amount of affirmation. Yes, I’ve been writing plays locally for years, and stories for even longer. But I haven’t yet quite had the wherewithal to get my work out in the real world – by which I mean, to people who don’t know who I am, and therefore have no compunction to say nice things to my face about my writing. I’m being slightly disingenuous here: I have been doing reviews (for TV, film and stage) online for a good few years now on sites like Cultbox, and if anything’s going to engender a negative opinion of my writing, it’s my hackery opinion of their work. But I guess I’ve been taking my own sweet time about getting my work (plays, stories, novellas, whatever) to producing / publication houses that I have nothing to do with. Some of it is the same excuses that you hear from any other failed/failing writer: lack of time, contacts, whatever.

But we shall see. This year sees the first time (I think, unless I’m forgetting something) that I’ll see a play of mine – in this case, Last Supper – produced by a company that I share nothing with – no actors, no directors, not even a postcode. I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out ..

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