Bristol have now got a proper improv venue, and The Bristol Improv Theatre Festival is coming up on 6th – 14th March. So we interviewed Andy Yeoh from The Bristol Improv Theatre to find out what’s happening in this improv hot spot.
How’s it going Bristol?
It’s going great! So much happening and so much to do. It really feels fantastic to be in at the ground floor of a burgeoning improv scene as it takes off.
Have you got a venue now and everything? How did that happen?
Yeah! We’re working in partnership with a local venue which has essentially become the Bristol Improv Theatre’s home base, as it were. It was essentially just a slow process of doing a few nights there, getting to know them and letting them get to know us. Now that we’ve built up a relationship of trust, we’re really making the space our own.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own improv venue?
Start small, make lots of plans, and don’t overcommit before you find out what’s going on! Almost the exact opposite of performing improv. Never give up hope and don’t be afraid to ask for help there’s an amazing improv community out there.
How do you manage to get decent audiences when Bristol is smaller than London?
Cross pollinate with other art forms! We’re putting on evenings of science communication, standup, etc, with an improv twist. Audiences come for what they know, and get hooked on
the improv element.
What’s the big plan for improv in Bristol?
Now we’ve got a home base in bristol, we want to send out our improvisers as tendrils into the wider bristol community, bringing more and more people to the theatre and improv in general. Like some kind of gigantic improv octopus.
What would be your big improv dream?
When someone asks ‘What do you do?’ you can say you do improvised theatre without following up by explaining what improv is. More than that even! When you say you’re an improviser at a party, someone should overhear you and come and tell you that they improvise too ‘hey, we should do a show together!’
Who have you got performing this year?
We’re delighted to say that we have such luminaries as Austentatious, Music Box, and the Maydays performing at the festival this year. It feels really great to know that such big and successful groups are up for working with us and we’re incredibly excited.
What is missing from the uk improv scene?
A fulltime dedicated improv theatre… but we’re getting closer! Also the kind of exposure and celebrity that you might get on, say, the standup circuit. That’s an artform that’s very mature and well established. Sometimes that’s not to standups benefit but mostly it’s amazing to think that 40 years ago it basically didn’t exist (in its current modern form).
If people are coming from outside Bristol where’s a good place to stay?
Our house! One of the great things about the improv scene is that no matter where in the world you go, someone will be willing to put you up or help you out. Post on our facebook group, send emails, make phone calls! Someone will come to your aid.
Where are the after show parties at?
Well, we have our own bar… what can we get you?