My First Slapdash


I remember my first Slapdash Festival. I was lucky enough to be improvising with Friendly Fire on the night and got to recreate and analyse the dreams of audience members. It was in the tunnels underneath Waterloo which was a very atmospheric place to perform, similar to this years Slapdash Festival which is also in a tunnel underneath trains.

Then we had the jam where all the groups performed together. It was my first jam performance, and it was a bit overwhelming being surrounded by all these people jumping in and creating a show as if they had turned up together. One of the great things about improv that many people experience is that ability to work with new improvisers on the night. That’s the job description! I had no idea what I was doing, but that was okay because everybody was there to support the scene and make things happen.

There was a nice moment in the jam that taught me something important about improv, or at least the kind of improv I wanted to do more of.

The last scene was a big musical/dance number and I stepped into the back line as a bodyguard of the main character. I noticed that Sean McCann was also playing a bodyguard type character at the same moment he noticed me and we quickly stood back-to-back with our arms crossed as the song finished, freezing as part of the scene picture.

It was fun and it was simple and rewarding, and it allowed me to find my feet in the moment. I don’t know when I realised the overall lesson from that, but what I have learned is that the best work comes out of that groundedness and connection. It’s about tuning myself to what I am doing and what other performers are doing and just following that. Right now I am writing this and feeling that flow and remembering that its always right beside me, or going through me but I’m just not paying attention to it when I feel it’s not there.

The reason I love improv, and being exposed to new improvisers and shows is because it keeps you on your toes. You have to be reacting and learning otherwise it gets stale and boring. Like life, like relationships, like love. Growth is a happy mountain.

So I’m looking forward to all the visiting performers finding that flow with the audiences at Slapdash.

What will grow from the night? Nobody knows, that’s why we do it. New friendships, new ideas and new experiences between old friends. New performances with new opportunities. New beginnings. A new Now.

And probably a great big piss-up at the end. That’s how the UK rolls, yo.


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