“Where is this possible?!” will gasp most of us. Well, the short answer is “In La Réunion“, but the longer answer is actually probably “Anywhere if we decide to make it happen”.
Let me share with you this fantastic experience and adventure, and also maybe make you a bit jealous.
Life was pretty tough there, ugly landscapes and all...
Keng-Sam is the artistic director of multiple international events on the island, including the one I was invited to, called Oui et même que. The idea is to bring 3 international improvisers to direct a local cast and create an evening of shows with these different formats. And to play that in the biggest theatre of the island, the Téat Plein Air!
The theatre is beautiful, and super-well equipped, and outside—tropical islands offer different possibilities regarding outside theatres than the Netherlands. And it can host a maximum of 1200 people!
The stage, the audience, and the moon shining in the sky!
You mean besides the picture just above? 🤪
I was invited there for almost two weeks, and Keng-Sam had also invited two other improvisers and teachers. And let me tell you: he picked a hell of a team!
Besides me was the fabulous and talented Amel Amziane, an improviser from the historical Declic Théatre in the suburbs of Paris. She worked with a cast on the famous French-Canadian format Match d’Impro, and especially on how to bring pauses and silences in a format that has a high energy, stake and pace.
Our other flatmate for that week was Mark Jane, famous British teacher and improviser living in Paris and working a lot with Les Eux, an amazing improv group in Paris. He was directing EPIC, an improvised peplum with 12 players constantly on stage, wearing togas and developing a tale of power, betrayals and curses.
And I was lucky enough to direct one of my favorite styles of improv, my freeform show called Musical Puzzle. From the music, the lights, the bodies on stage and the movements, we created a beautiful patchwork of scenes ranging from silly and hilarious to touching and beautiful!
The three of us spent quite some time nerding about improv, and it was just a delight! I would recommend to anyone to work with them if you have the opportunity.
The organisation was great, we felt very welcome, everyone was great with us and it was just a delight. All the shows we played were fun, even the ones that were not in front of 1K+ people!
But mostly, what I loved was how serious the art was taken by most of the people around the shows. We played in places that I would not expect to become a professional setting, and yet here was a sound-technician to install speakers, monitors, calibrate all of our headset mic’, make sure that the music was working well in combination with the different personal microphones. And there was a light-technician to install pars and back lights, make sure that all the cables are running safely, that we are aware of the light setting and its possibilities.
And suddenly, from a simple school courtyard or the terrasse of a café, a theatre—that looks more professional that some regular theatres I’ve collaborated with—is created!
Playing under a tree, and looking good in the light for a horror story
That’s the other side of it, right? Being treated as a professional also comes with the responsibilities to behave like one. And I loved that! It had been a while in improv since someone had high expectations from me—outside of the scene content for instance.
An example of that is the tech-run of our big show. We were playing on the Friday night at 20:00, but not only we had to be there at 16:00 the day itself, we also had the actual tech-check the day before, on Thursday, from 16:00 to 23:00! Sounds crazy? It shouldn’t!
That’s the time needed to take care of the sound, lights, movements on stage, run through, and cover the potential problems there could be with the tech!
I love people that have expectations about what we can do in improv. It gives me the feeling that we are taking our own artform seriously. And the result of that is visible: normal people—aka. non-improvisers or cousins of improvisers—take it seriously as well.
I just feel very grateful to have had the chance to experience that joy and happiness, to be reminded of what we can create with improv, to remember why I have chosen that job, and to be able to share that with fantastic friends, old and new.
I can’t wait to continue the work, to develop it, to grow it, here in Amsterdam, there in la Réunion, and anywhere in between!
Musical Puzzle with a talented cast of actors and musician: so many emotions!
After such a full and lovely trip, I can’t wait to go on my next adventure somewhere in the improv world!
Talk to you soon, for another Pigeon Post!
Did you know that there were some ginger that tastes and smells like mango?! It’s called mango ginger! And it’s amazingly tasty. Like all the food, fruits and rhums I’ve had during my stay in la Réunion.