Lee Simpson at Hoopla

Lee Simpson from The Comedy Store Players, Improbable and Actors Nightmare is teaching a new course with Hoopla!!!

When watching improv there are some actors you connect with more than others – actors whose every thought is as clear as if it were spoken out loud, whose emotions feel like they are your own, who are telling a story even when they aren’t speaking, who have that indefinable quality we sometimes call “presence”. Whereas other actors on the same stage in the same show… meh… not so much.

This workshop is about helping you be less meh and more the kind of improviser the audience are captivated by. To do that we will play with techniques and strategies to send your performance beyond the (metaphorical) footlights and out into the hearts and minds of the people watching. After all, it doesn’t matter what story the performer has in their head, it is the story in the collective imagination of the audience that matters.

Among other things we will work with are ideas from the great Russian actor and teacher Michael Chekhov, immerse ourselves in the glorious theatricality of Melodrama, and revisit some of the very first exercises that Keith Johnstone played with in the Writers Group at the Royal Court back in the 1950s to see what gifts they have for us today.

A workshop about clarity, theatricality and just being a better improvising actor.

dates, time, location

Dates: Every Monday for 8 weeks from Monday 7th October 2019.

Time: 7pm – 9:30pm each week.

Price: £240. Either payable all at once or with £100 at time of booking and £140 when the course starts.

Teacher: Lee Simpson with guest teacher on 11th November.

Workshop Location: Theatre Delicatessen Studios, 1st Floor, 2 Finsbury Avenue (off Whitecross Place), London, EC2M 2PP.

Tube: Liverpool Street or Moorgate.


Please note this course is only suitable for experienced improvisers. You should have at least done our Level 4 Long-Form Course or an equivalent somewhere else.

Lee Simpson

Lee has been performing with The Comedy Store Players since 1989 and also tours with Paul Merton’s Impro Chums.

At Hoopla he performs in The Actor’s Nightmare the improvised play as well as A Very Serious Play with Ruth Bratt.

Lee is the Co-Artistic Director of Improbable, a hugely influential improvisation company that he set up with Phelim McDermott to bring the philosophy and practice of improvisation to performance improv, devised theatre, plays, operas and social activism.

Lee’s TV, Radio and Film credits included Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Drop the Dead Donkey, Paper Mask, Just a Minute, Terry and Jullian and Nuns on the Run.

Lee co-devised and narrated The Masterson Inheritance for Radio 4 and has written plays for The Nottingham Playhouse and The Royal Court.

He directed Paul Merton’s latest one man show as well as The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb, Travels with my Virginity by Guy Dartnell, My M.S. and Me by Jim Sweeney and Palace Dreams, an outdoor show on the site of the Crystal Palace.

He has been director, devisor, writer or performer for Improbable’s productions of Animo, 70 Hill Lane, Coma, Lifegame, Cinderella, Sticky, Spirit, The Hanging Man, The Stars Are Out Tonight (with Amici), Theatre of Blood, Satyagraha, Panic, No Idea, The Still, Still No Idea and The Paper Man.

Lee started improvising in 1979 when his English teacher read Impro by Keith Johnstone and from then on, in lunchtime Drama Club, they worked through every exercise in the book. He’s been performing and teaching impro since then.

He’s also been a croupier, cinema projectionist and breakfast show DJ.


Lee will be teaching a variety of themes, topics and influences over the course including:

  • Improv basics.
  • The joy of theatricality.
  • Melodrama.
  • Grand Guignol.
  • Naturalism.
  • Musical Hall.
  • Michael Chekhov.
  • Status Work.
  • Keith Johnstone.
  • Clarity of physical expression.
  • Clarity of emotional speech.
  • Using diagonals on stage.
  • Helping the audience experience the emotion.
  • Stories where something is happening.
  • Keeping the character alive.
  • Building atmospheres on stage.
  • Big life moments.
  • Love, death, hope, sadness, tragedy.
  • Brave narrative choices.
  • Emotional through line.
  • Communicating beyond the footlights.