This year, the theatre scene is booming with so many festivals coming our way during the second half of the year. With the annual Singapore International Festival of Arts, M1 Chinese Theatre Festival as well as Singapore Theatre Festival, there are so many shows to catch that we are already spoilt for choice.
Now, the Singapore Improv Festival is here to spice things up a notch!
Started by The Improv Company, this debut festival is born out of the team’s experiences overseas where improvisation festivals have been taking place, such as Manila and America. The improv scene has been growing gradually over the recent years, and now, it is time to bring everyone together under one big event for celebration and further exposure.
Be it active improv troupe members or just curious members of the public, this festival has got all grounds covered – classes, performances and games. However, it is not entirely just sheer fun. Participating in improvisation has its benefits too, such as better adaptability, awareness of self and others. Sounds too good to be true?
Popspoken speaks to the organisers, Kim and Hazel, to find out what exactly is improv theatre and what we can find at the festival.
What exactly is improv theatre? What is the essential difference from staged plays?
Improvised theatre is theatre where the performers create the performance spontaneously, usually in response to input from the audience. The main difference between staged plays and improv theatre is that improv performers don’t memorise and perform from a script; they create the play and perform it as it’s being created. They are actors, scriptwriters and directors all at once.
Share with us how the local community has grown, and if there are differences in the improv style by each team?
In 2010, when the NUS Improvables were established, there was no improv scene in Singapore. Sometimes a group would put on a show here and there, but they were irregular and infrequent. We started The Improv Company in 2013 with a handful of students. We now have 5 house teams and we put on bimonthly shows. There are now at least 10 improv troupes who put on regular shows, and we’re performing in venues like the Arts House and at events like the Night Fest.
Each team has a unique improv style, depending on the tastes and skills of their members. Some prefer faster, punchier comedic styles; others prefer slower, more grounded theatre. Some play short games like those on Whose Line Is It Anyway; others perform hour-long improvised musicals. What they have in common is that they’re all created on the spot by the performers.
What is the most interesting fact about this festival? Or what should people look out for?
There’s going to be a tonne of audience particaption! We’ll be asking the audience for prompts and suggestions in all our shows, so the festival will be a rare chance for you to yell at actors on stage and watch them do your bidding.
If you’re new to improv, check out Saturday Night Laughs (4th June, Sat 8-10pm) for classic ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’-style games and bursts of comedic genius.
If you’d like to watch us pull a full-length play out of the air, check out Story Not Story (4th June, Sat 5-7pm).
If you prefer shows with songs in them, watch us improvise a whole musical in Young and Dangerous (4th June, Sat 3-5pm)
If you like edgy theatre with a bite, check out Double Indecency (5th June, Sun 5-7pm).
Along with our shows, we also have workshops on Saturday and Sunday for people who want to try improv for the first time, or for those who would like to learn how to apply improv principles to their personal and professional lives.
Singapore Improv Festival
Date: 3 June – 5 June 2016
Venue: Centre 42, 42 Waterloo Street
For the festival schedule, check out their website here for more details.