More Musical Improv

Yesterday, I attended a workshop taught by Keng-Sam Chane Chick Té.  We worked on creating scenes, with a musician, that were entirely physical, using no speech.  I found this quite difficult but I did enjoy how it helped to create connections between the players.  It requires a lot of concentration on the other players if you need to work out what sort of scene you are creating together if you can’t talk about it.  The incidental music that the pianist played also helped us find the emotional context of the scenes.  It was quite different than the other musical improv that I have done, as I was not creating music.  Some of it did end up like dance, and at one point I managed to bruise myself by colliding with another player I was performing with.

I started attended improv classes in the hope that it would improve my acting.  Now I’m starting to attend them as I’m enjoying improv as an art form.

New Goals

Since it’s the start of another year I decided to update my “101 things in 1001 days” list.  I have reduced the number of travel related goals, as I don’t enjoy travelling as much as I used to.  I have removed everything to do with programming languages and tech conferences.  I will admit that it feels strange not to be planning to attend YAPC, but I want to attend different things in 2017.

I’ve added lots of new goals involving music and theatre, and kept all my writing, reading, and organisation goals.  At some point I really will tidy up all the cupboards in the apartment.


West End Visit

I went to the the theatre three times when I was in London.  The first play I saw was Much Ado About Nothing, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company, at Haymarket Theatre.  It was a beautiful version of the play directed by Christopher Luscombe, with a wonderful score composed by Nigel Hess.  I wasn’t expecting the singing and dancing but it really added to the play and the feeling of joy at the end.

I saw The Bodyguard, with Beverly Knight in the lead role.  It was a completely unsubtle spectacle with a minimal plot held together by as many Whitney Houston songs as they could fit in.  I did enjoy it, but it’s not something I could watch twice.  I loved the lighting.  A large part of the show was set in Rachel Maron’s house, and they managed to make it look as if the rooms of the house were being flooded by natural light from large windows.

The final play I saw was The Dresser.  The revolving set was stunning.  I was so jealous of their ability to create an intimate back stage setting that could turn to become the stage to perform their play within a play.  I was conflicted about the acting.  Both Ken Stott and Reece Shearsmith were excellent but I didn’t feel any emotional connection to the characters.  It was a much funnier version of the play, than the one I had been involved with last year, but I felt that the constant use of humour detracted from the emotional content.  It was strangely intense watching a play that I knew so well, but I did enjoy it.

Musical Theatre Improvisation

I decided to start my 2017 with a 5 day intensive training course.  I had seen a couple of improvised musicals created on stage in Tokyo by Tokyo Comedy Store, and I was curious about the skills needed to do this.  When I saw that Showstoppers, who are an award winning improv group, were teaching these skills in London I was really keen to go and try it.

This was a step-up in complexity compared to the improv classes I normally attend.  We did create the plot, characters, dialogues, and scenes in the moment, but we also added song and dance.  This course also involved long-form improv, which was new for me, as I have been learning short-form improv.

The goal of the course was to learn how to create a 30 minute musical on stage in front of an audience.  Learning how to create improvised songs with choreography involved lots of listening to the pianist and your fellow players.  When it works it looks like magic, when it doesn’t it can be very clumsy and awkward.  But by the end of the week we had gotten very good at listening to each other and also at being clear in what we planned to do next.

The highlights of the week were creating lovely duets, creating my first improvised solo song, and getting to play Alice in Wonderland in a 30 minute musical.


I forget that there are people who don’t enjoy reading books.  I was given a book recommendation at a course with the comment, “If you only manage to read one book this year, make sure it is this one.”  I read 132 books last year.  It wasn’t as many as I had hoped to read, so I will try to be more disciplined this year.  30 of those were non-fiction, showing my clear preference for fiction.  I’m hoping this year to increase the amount of non-fiction I read, helped by the large stack of non-fiction books I was bought for Christmas.