It’s Improvathon weekend! Yes, yes, yes, we’re talking 33 hour and 36 minutes (2016 minutes in all, geddit) of all the super-duper made up theatrical goodness you might ever need – in a brand new home and with a cast of…. well, we don’t know yet. We’ll have to see. But here’s ten reasons (mainly cut-and-pasted from last year – but updated nonetheless) to drop in:
Been there yet? Probably not. The old Kazimier creative have a brand new base in the Invisible Wind Factory, and the Improvathon has rightly followed suit. Want a nose inside to see what the flipping heck all the fuss is about? Of course you do. These people know where it’s motherfudging at.
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…
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. This year, each episode starts on an EVEN-numbered hour, and ends with a 15 minute gap between them to give performers a bit of a break.
Bring your PJs and sleeping bag and settle down for all the action through the night from 10pm on Saturday until 10am on Sunday (sleepover ticket, £15).
Tickets for the whole entire thing are just £20 if you’re lucky – see Impropriety’s website.
Or it tries its very best to be for at least one session – this time between 12pm and 2pm 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. Last year, it was all about centaurs. And fauns. The dude with the horns is actually a real-life doctor. When not being a faun.
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.
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.
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 and actors you’ll know from all sorts.
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. This year’s theme is When in Rome. Can you imagine? Well… they certainly will. For more info on all the goings ons, keep checking Impropriety’s website, or follow them on Twitter for updates, film and photos throughout the show.