Slapdash: Improvisers Assemble

I arrived at The Nursery at 6.45pm on Friday for the first event of the Slapdash Festival: a class taught by Becky Johnson of the Sufferettes. But it didn’t feel like the start of the Festival. Like a scene that starts in the middle of the action, there was already momentum. Improvisers had already for some days been gathering, meeting our international guests, decorating the Nursery, giving it a bright green exterior and themselves a light grey exterior with a splash of yellow. I was delighted to meet new people, to see face-to-face people I’d only communicated with via Skype and email, and to reunite with some old friends.

Although there were only twelve taking the class, there were quite a few more than that hanging out at The Nursery, both beforehand and afterwards. I think it’s great that the space is being used socially as well as for workshops and shows. Actually, I think it’s pretty essential. For me, Slapdash is about much more than what happens on the stage.

I love the way improvisers get together. Whether they’ve worked together for years or they’ve only just met, there’s an optimism, a generosity and a keenness to create. That was especially palpable on Saturday night, when a one-off unlikely concoction of players assembled for a Fancy Pants Jam: Ken Bryan, John Agapiou, Sarah Castell, Luke Sorba, Sean Lowthian, Michael Brunström, Carleen Macdermid, Liz Peters, Henri Roe, Tom Salinsky, Alan Starzinski, Andrew Stanton, Robert Gentile, Briony Redman, Jacob Migicovsky, Jason Delplanque and Paul Foxcroft, directed by Jules Munns and Heather Urquhart. There’s a special atmosphere that exists when improvisers meet for the first time just minutes before heading out on stage together. If they haven’t rehearsed or performed together before, they can’t fall back on practised routines, relationships or styles. It becomes much more about trust and pure potential.

After the Jam, and the Sufferettes’ performance, there were even more fresh interactions, accompanied by drinks and music. More trust, and more laughter. A great start to the Festival. Whether or not you are performing, you are assured a friendly welcome at Slapdash. The Nursery has never felt warmer.

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