It’s March, but don’t let that fool you – Improvathon weekend is upon us, a little earlier this year, but otherwise ready for business as usual… or unusual, as the case may be.
The annual 33.5 hour event (or 2015 minutes), brought to you by those good folk at Impropriety, begins at 1pm on Saturday (March 21) at the Kazimier, and this year will be inspired by its Once Upon a Time theme. And here’s ten quick reasons it might be worth popping in…
1. You won’t have seen anything like it (unless you’ve been before and you have)
If you’ve never been to an Improvathon before, prepare to have your expectations of live performance and comedy exceeded beyond measure. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might even finish the Wayne’s World tagline trifecta and hurl; whatever happens, it will be great fun and you’ll never forget it. Don’t worry, it’s not like they lock the door once it starts and don’t let you out again for a day and a half – there are plenty of options to suit different audiences, including…
2. You can stay for one episode…
For £5 on the door, you can sample the delights of a single ‘episode’ of the story. The two hour sessions begin with an introduction of each character before the story picks up again with new scenes. Each episode starts on the odd-numbered hour, and ends with a 15 minute break between them to give performers a bit of a break.
3. …Sleep over…
Bring your PJs and sleeping bag and settle down for all the action through the night from 11pm on Saturday until 9am on Sunday (sleepover ticket, £15).
4. …Or do the whole thing for 63p an hour (if you’re quick)
Tickets for the whole entire thing are just £20 until Friday.
5. It’s wholesome family fun
Or it tries its very best to be for at least one session between 11am and 1pm on the Sunday, which is the traditional ‘children’s hour’ episode, where the cast, at this point running on nearly 24 hours without sleep, will endeavour to keep things clean for the kids. Children’s hour often inspires a song and dance routine that will be reprised later in the show, even if nobody can really remember the words or the tune. Or the dance. This year, I get to take my three month old, which is very exciting. What could possibly go wrong?
6. It’s addictive
You may think you’re only heading over for one episode, to keep your hand in with the developing story or just out of curiosity, but the Improvathon really is an addictive pasttime. Binge watching is all too easy, and before you know it you’re drinking Red Stripe at 7am having successfully lost all sense of time, watching somebody rap about kumquats.
7. It’s old school
The concept of long form improvisation was perfected by the late avant-garde theatre director Ken Campbell, with whom some of the founder members of Impropriety actually learned the craft. The Improvathon continues in his memory. Among the companies to pick up Campbell’s mantle and run with it were Canadian DIE-Nasty, who keep the action of their own event going for 50 hours straight; you’ll often find their number among the cast here in Liverpool too. This has previously included impro stalwart Dana Andersen, a former comedy partner of Mike Myers.
8. …And new school
You’ll find a wealth of the city’s up-and-coming professional (and some pretty damn good amateur) performers getting involved in the Improvathon, including members of the likes of Random Acts of Wildness, Jollyboat, Spike Theatre, Trickster, What We Did Next and more; stand ups including Alastair Clark and Sam Freeman; and city actor Lewis Bray, whose one-man show Cartoonopolis was at the Playhouse earlier in the year.
9. There’s method in the madness
Holding things together will be director Rosie Wilkinson, now a veritable veteran of long form high jinks. An Improvathon might be off-the-cuff, but it needs a coherent story to work and it’s Rosie and her assistants at the side of the performance space that will be keeping tabs on developing plotlines and shaping the narrative as things go on. Here’s an old interview that I quite like.
10. It’s in the perfect venue
…But might not be for long. The Kazimier, home to the Improvathon since 2008, has announced it will close in the near future as part of hugely unpopular plans to develop the area. What this means for the future of the Improvathon is uncertain; the Kaz has provided the perfect space for the event to unfold over the years. Give them your support and go and see this brilliant event there for one last time.
For more info on all the goings ons, keep checking Impropriety’s website.