Wednesday 26th March – 8.30pm: Project Two.
Brian Aldiss once described science fiction as "hubris clobbered by nemesis...the search for a definition of mankind and his status in the universe,” which is true, but he forgot to mention the vampire space-bats.
Actually, how about this?: Science fiction is no more about lasers and robots than Schindler’s List is about trains and pots.
Nah.. the space-bats thing is cooler.
Project 2 are a trio of part-cybernetic improv organisms grown in a test tube from clown DNA. They have 2 boy ones and 1 girl one. They’ll take you to worlds beneath the skin of the ‘verse and then maybe shrink to an atomic level and entertain your white blood cells.
Improvised scenes from science-fiction masterworks that never were. Tall tales from the lost mer-city of Mimsy. Daring adventures in the humid jungle domes of Ulterran IV… Project 2: There Are Three Of Us.
(Actually sometimes there are two of us. Sometimes a musician and a techie.. so there are five of us. We’re still always called Project 2, though. The Spice Girls didn’t change their name when Emma, Victoria, Mel B & Mel C left, did they?)
WARNING: May contain robots*
* Will contain robots. Almost certainly.
Cast: Performed by Chris Mead, Katy Schutte, Jonathan Monkhouse.
Music improvised by Tom Adams.
Technical Improvisation by Matt Nicholls.
Find out more about Project Two below . . .
Tell us about your group
Project Two is a group of improvisers united by their love of science-fiction and improvised comedy, and how the two can meet and have stage-babies. Like many humanoids we formed organically. Chris, Jonathan and Matt have been friends for 17 years. They met Katy in early 2010 when creating the improv Harold Group “8-Bit”, and Tom when working on a ‘proper' theatre show. Later, in 2011 Jonathan built a vat of primordial liquid, kidnapped the others and held them prisoner in it until they agreed Project 2 was a good idea. The rest is history. Or future. Or something
What was the best piece of advice on improvisation you’ve ever been given?
Jonathan: "Don't fart and leave, stick around and enjoy the smell" - Susan Messing
Tom: So far, it is say 'Yes' to everything.
Katy: I’ve been doing (and learning) improvisation for a long time now, so there has been a lot of useful advice over the years. At the beginning it was ‘go for the gag’, then it was ‘don’t go for the gag’, then it was ‘if you’re not having fun, you’re the asshole’. I guess my biggest learning curve was when I studied at iO Chicago in 2008. I had 5 or more teachers over 5 full-time weeks. After a while, I started panicking because they were contradicting each other. I was utterly confused until it dawned on me that improv was not maths, there was no elegant solution, no unifying proof of comedy. I learned that I should take advice that excited me and try (but then ignore) advice that didn’t get me off and make me have a better time on stage. When I teach, this is the advice that I impart. Also, take care of your fricking scene partner.
Follow the fun! Sometimes you can get too focused on making sure that everything makes sense and that you're following all the rules that it's easy to forget why we fell in love with improvisation in the first place, for the pure joy and fun that improvisation brings us.
Chris: - Susan Messing said to me 'Coach a team.' It was a bit of a revelation. Coaching's not embedded into UK improv culture in the same way it is in the States. That idea of having a non-performing improviser to offer guidance and create bespoke exercises to make a group better, stronger, faster. It's been one of the most enriching experiences of my improv-life. I love working with my troupe, The Science of Living Things - it doesn't feel the same as directing - where you have final say and a responsibility to nail down form and structure. This feels much more like being part of the team. It's absolutely made me a better improviser, it stretches different muscles. Actually, using that analogy has reminded me about the other thing I love about coaching. You can pretend you are good at sports. Improvisation is basically team sports for nerds, right? We'd all get letter jerseys if we could. Then we would all go to Improv Prom ... wait, I'm digressing. Coach. It'll change the way you think about your sport art.
What is your favourite improvisation exercise and why?
Jonathan: There’s character creation exercise that I use when teaching where you get improvisers to generate stupid faces, then perform monologues based on those faces. It always shows how extreme you can go but still make genuine, convincing characters.
Katy: It always changes. This morning it is Mind Meld. Not the one where everyone plays at once, the one where two people go head-to-head. It’s the app ‘Same Thing’, but for humans.
Chris: Temple of Doom. It's a space work exercise. Each player steps into a room of traps that pretty much immediately kills them. The cool part is you must remember each other's traps and try to disable them. So between you, you populate this entire room with inventive devices of mutilation and murder. It's a mime exercise, did I mention that? Otherwise it would be just horrible.
What's your pre-show ritual/warm-up?
Jonathan: P2 usually eat a burger and talk about crappy films we’ve watched recently. Sometimes we’ll play Spaceteam, but usually we are distracted by burgers and talking about crappy films.
Chris: Walking in tight circles and muttering my positive mental attitude mantra "Why am I doing this? I hate this."
Katy: We chat, mess around, talk about films or comics or play Space Team. Sometimes we do Dutch Clapping.
Tom: The other day I looked in the mirror with really big eyes.
Recommend a book on improvisation ...
Tom: "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Katy: "Guru: My Days with Del Close" by Jeff Griggs. It's really about the Allfather of long form as a person, rather than a treatise on improvisation, but it's really beautiful. It's like a mediation to me. And it's really funny.
Chris: Hands down "Jill Bernard's Small Cute Book of Improv" you can read it in 20 minutes, it's genuinely hilarious, insightful and inspiring and it makes you fall in love with improv all over again. Did I mention it only takes 20 minutes to read?
Jonathan: "Thinking, Fast & Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It's not about impro, but it's got loads of useful stuff.
Anything else you’d like to add about your show, your group, or improvisation or the world in general ...
Jonathan: I like everything on that list.
Tom: I'm so excited to be working with Project 2 that I've even bought a new synthesiser to celebrate.
Katy: If you get into improv, you're not getting out.
Chris: My troupe are my best friends and I feel very lucky to work with them. I think that's the strength of our show and what keeps people coming back. It isn't the starships and the robot goat people, it's the idiots on stage trying to make eachother laugh.