23rd December 2013: Hoopla’s Improv Highlights of the Year

It’s been a busy and fun year. So much has happened, I can’t remember it all, but here’s some fond improv memories of 2013. 
 

Warning! This blog is more sentimental than the end of a Robin Williams movie!
 

People

 
This year especially as we had more
and more people involved with what we do. There’s so many, but we’d like
to say a special thanks to the following (in random order), without
whom we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing:
 

Mike Hutcherson: Mike
has been at every show we put on, hosting, performing (in Glitch, Mike
& Constantine and We Lost Our Puppets and more), doing lights.
Everything. Without him The Miller wouldn’t have been running this
Autumn. Thank you Mike for everything, your constant advice and for
caring passionately about making things happen, and making things
happen. 
 

Georgina Bream: She’s
my fiance, and also pretty much Hoopla’s Creative Consultant. Every
idea I have I bounce off her and she’s always so patient and always has
time.

 
 
Edgar Fernando: Oh
my gosh it’s been so much fun having him back. We started Hoopla
together but then Edgar wasn’t doing much impro the last few years due
to work, but he’s been back this Autumn. Talking to him about impro
makes me realise what’s important, he’s really got it and cuts through
complication and brings it back to being human in a good mood.
 

Maria Peters: For
year’s it was just me and Edgar and occasional teachers but this year
Maria has joined up as a full teacher, best decision ever! She brings so
much joy, enthusiasm, excitement and her students are doing some
amazing improv. Looking forward to doing more and more with her. 
 

Max Dickins: Max has also joined us a full teacher, running our stand-up
courses. He’s been encouraging students to jump into a more honest form
of stand up, sharing their lives and stories, and some of them have
already started winning competitions. He’s also been amazing at
spreading impro into the workplace, where we’ve been teaching together
for various companies. Like Maria he keeps me going!
 

Jess Fremont: Jess
was delivered to us like an impro angel from Canada. I was at The
Miller and after the show she marched straight up to me and said “I’m
from Loose Moose in Canada, I’ve come to run your front of house”. And
she did, really well. She bonds people together, makes everywhere a joy
to be, and I really miss our late night McDonald’s planning meetings!
 

Shawn Collinson: Our
second impro angel from Canada! Just after Jess left, Shawn arrived as
if by magic. He’s been doing amazing things all Autumn, working on our
marketing for shows especially and also some new venues. Long-term
this is going to enable us to do more and more shows and attract a
larger mainstream audience. He’s so patient with my scattiness, and such
a cool guy, thank you Shawn!
 

Patrick Vermillion: Our
improv angel from New York! Patrick was volunteering with front of
house all Autumn and also gave us loads of advice on how to run shows,
borrowed from the New York improv scene. His tips are coming into play
in the New Year, he’s made such a difference. We miss you!
 

Conor and Constantine: They
aren’t the same person, but I’ve put them together because they both
make me happy whenever I see them. In addition to performing they’ve
also been volunteering with hosting and front of house and planning and
loads of things. 
 

Jon Monkhouse: Earlier
on The Miller was a combination of Hoopla and London Improv (run by
Jon) and his amazing work is still keeping it going today. Thanks also
for Balham lunches, late night snacks and lovely improv chats. 
 

Sophie Pumphrey: We
constantly talk about what improv/life is and what it could be, a
conversation that will thankfully never have an end, and this is really
inspirational on all our workshops. 
 

Vanda: She’s a constant support to everything we do. If either of us are having an improv meltdown we fix each other. 
 

Jules Munns: Jules
does amazing things. The improv scene has become so much more exciting
since he arrived. Teachers and groups coming from across the world to
our city, so amazing.
 

John Cremer: John
is a constant support and mentor and guru (he hates being called guru)
to us. He’s like my original source of improv, and I wouldn’t be doing
any of this without him. He introduced me to the whole world! 
 

Dylan Emery: Loads
of what we’re doing now comes from advice Dylan gave to me about four
years ago at 3am at The Edinburgh Fringe. He’s got kids, a busy job,
he’s in about four improv groups and somehow he still finds time to help
out us and the whole impro scene. 
 

James Pain at The Miller: Yeah!
Love this guy. He’s taken a punt on us and given us the weekends at The
Miller next year. He’s been supporting us for over three years now,
through ups and downs.
 

Silas at The Rag Factory: We
definitely wouldn’t be doing so much without Silas. He keeps me sane
when I’ve lost my marbles with his post workshop 10pm outside big life
chats. 
 

Rhiannon, Phil, James, Ben, Abag, Chris Mead and The Music Box gang: Whenever I see this lot I’m happy, there’s nothing as fun as stepping on stage with them not knowing what is about to happen. 
 

Joel Butler: One of the original Hoopla performers, and great to have him back after a few years away. 
 

Everyone who’s performed at our nights: So
many great groups this year and so many new improvisers mixing with
current improvisers, such exciting times. Thanks everyone who has been
doing so much. 
 

Everyone who has been to a workshop: It’s
so great to be able to spend a whole year laughing, thanks to everyone
for jumping in and improvising, so many people for the first time ever. 
 

Everyone who has been to a show: The sound of a room full of people laughing is a dream come true.

Basically at the exact point I
sometimes feel like giving up and doing something else someone appears
and peps me up and makes improv worthwhile all over again. I constantly
rediscover the joy of improv on a weekly basis, and always due to the
people involved.

There are so many people to thank for an amazing year, way more than I had space to list above, thank you everyone!
 

Events
 

There’s been so many things this year, here’s just a selection of what I can remember:
 

IO Week: Thanks
to Rob and Jules for making this happen. I was lucky enough to be
taught by Charna Halpern the founder of IO in Chicago and it was a real
joy. It taught me the true power of Agreement in improv. There’s more
about that on our previous blog
 

The Mayday’s Residential Improv Festival at Osho Leela: This
was one of the biggest highlights to me. It was actually a life
changing experience. It’s hard to put it into words, as it was more an
experience of emotions and feelings that words on a blog don’t do
justice. I think for the first time in my life I experienced what real
community is, and also what a powerful and good thing it can be. If I
had the choice between Edinburgh Fringe and Osho Leela I’d now go for
Osho Leela every time, and hope to go again next year. 
 

Edinburgh Improv Buzz: I
couldn’t make it to Edinburgh this year but I enjoyed picking up the
buzz on so many improv groups doing so well again, and such a variety
too. Short-form, long-form, narrative, musicals, Edinburgh had it all going on. 
 

End of Course Shows: I
love every single end of course show that we put on. The stakes are so
high, people are nervous (including me), the audience are new to improv.
Every single show features a level of excitement, joyfullness and
playfullness that makes me fall in love with improv all over again. 
 

Annoyance, UCB, Montreal Improv Weekends and more: There
were loads of improv teachers coming over from North America and
Europe, London is so exciting at the moment because we get to learn from
everyone from across the globe. 
 

Slapdash Festival: This
was a great one, thanks to Jules for putting it all together. Before
our show (Music Box) I had the worse performance anxiety ever, so much
so I had to sit with my head in my hands in a coffee shop for an hour.
But the second I walked back stage and saw Andrew Gentilli and the rest
of the Music Box cast I was in a good mood again. 
 

UK Border Patrol: This was an end of course show from our long-form course that seems to have gone down in legend. One of those shows where it just clicks and everything comes together. 
 

The Round Table Crash Pad: We
went back to The Round Table for one night and there was an eventful
show with Bob falling out of a window and a story set on the Love Star
being performed entirely in flashback mode. 
 

All New Shows: There
have been so many new shows and groups forming this year, the improv
scene feels like a living a breathing organism now and it’s growing up
quick. It’s alive!!!!!!
 

Beginners: It’s
been a pleasure this year to introduce so many people to the joy of
improv, well done for jumping into it. I never ever tire of introducing
people to listening, yes and, spontaneity and having fun with games. 
 

Epic Crash Pads: Many
of these are totally bonkers. 15 groups performing in one night in a
small sweaty room above a pub. It’s Peter Brook’s Rough Theatre at it’s
finest and it’s producing new theatre and seeds of ideas. What’s great
about the Crash Pads is that now when show ideas happen they get done
without hesitation. 
 

Breaking and Entering cracking it: Maria
and Lauren performed together, went to Chicago together and then
performed Breaking and Entering together. At their last show the
audience made the sound of an audience recognising a group who had
‘cracked it’, they’ve got their thing. Fun, joy, characters, truth,
game, play, laughs, emotion, their show has it got it all going on in
every single scene. 
 

Rap Workshop: This
made Edgar happy, he said this is what Hoopla is all about. I was
teaching an emotionally real naturalistic Meisner for Improv workshop
upstairs while Dave Waller taught  freestyle rap downstairs. I agree,
that’s what it’s all about. 
 

Weekend classes at 3:30pm: The
best improv I see is usually at 3:30pm on one of our weekend classes
where a group have warmed up together, played together and suddenly they
are there in the magic zone. 
 

Saturday Night Improv: We
experimented with putting on shows on Saturday nights. They went down
well. They went down so well that The Miller offered us every weekend
for the whole of 2014. Nice one. 
 

Last Night’s Improv Jam: This
was so much fun! I wasn’t sure if people would be up for a late night
impro jam starting at 10pm, but actually it was our busiest one yet. A
mix of people who’d never been on stage of people and experienced
improvisers playing together. It opens the doors to more late night
shows next year, which is great. 
 

Music Box Last Show: I
loved performing with Music Box so much. It’s the most fun show to
perform in, exhilarating. You step on stage and into a made up world for
45 minutes, you can go anywhere in time and space, the cast of Music
Box make improv fun. 
 

ImproFest UK: This was very exciting and the festival really nailed the marketing this year so it was great to perform to full houses. 
 

God, Jesus and the Devil surfing with a Vicar: I don’t usually remember scenes but this was a fun one. 
 

Airplanes and Tube Trains: This was from a long-form
groups end of course shows. We spent ages in the course learning about
edits and tags, but in the show they decided not to use them in a piece
and instead set a whole 15 minute scene on one row of an airplane. It
was awesome. So amazing that the next show they set a whole 15 minute
scene on one row of a tube train. I thought it was the best scene I’ve
seen all year, a true ensemble working together like magic. 
 

Monday Night Drop Ins: I
miss these so much! 20 people laughing together in a weird room at The
Rag Factory while it rains outside on a Monday night. We had to stop
them as they got too busy, but they’ll be back in a different form in
the New Year. They had the most intense atmopshere out of everything we
do. 
 

Countless nights in The Princess Alice: Pint of Doom Bar please. I still owe Fraser a pint of Guiness.
 

Meeting Susan Messing in the pub: I
couldn’t make the Susan Messing workshop but accidentally met her at a
pub near Brick Lane. A random place to meet an improv legend, and she
fitted right in.

People coming back from America with new stuff: London
is absorbing influences from all over the place now and it’s great.
What is the London improv style? It’s a melting pot, it’s whatever you
want it to be. 
 

Mark Beltzman workshops in the snow: The
year started with me trudging through Kings Cross snow to do workshops
with Mark Beltzman, such a positive guy and put me in a good mood for
the rest of the year. What he taught is what I’m most likely to refer to
when performing: talk to each other about each other.

Thanks again to everyone for making it such a fun year!!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Steve,

Hoopla

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