In advance of his debut as Marcel Maurice on Tales of Adventure, we spoke to Will Gawned about how he is feeling about the show!


Welcome Traveller! How does it feel to be joining Tales of Adventure as a guest hero?

I’m very excited! I’m a big fan of the show, Dungeons & Dragons and Role Playing Games (RPGs) in general.

Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you come to be in this show?

I’m an improv performer, instructor, writer and RPG game designer: Check out my RPG work with EN World’s Level Up: Advanced 5e system (https://www.levelup5e.com/)

When I started improv in Bristol in 2016, Stephen Clements was one of my Discovering Improv teachers. During one of the lessons I was talking about how much I loved D&D and he mentioned that the Bristol Improv Theatre was in the process of devising a live play D&D show. There was a brief moment where (I like to believe) I was being considered to join the original cast. We’ve discussed me guesting in the show a few times over the years, but is hasn’t worked out until now.

I’ve continued to play D&D offstage and two of my three regular D&D games include Stephen; one as a fellow player, and one as the gamemaster. I’ve also gained a lot more performance improv experience, I’m a cast member of This Is Your Musical, and an instructor as part of the Bristol Improv Theatre’s Theatre School.

When I heard that Ste was leaving the show, I approached Stephen and asked if I could be in the show, and now after a long wait, I shall have my debut!

Have you seen the show before and how do you see yourself fitting into the existing crew? 

Over the long years, I’ve intermittently watched the show in-person, and I’ve listened to the podcast to catch up on shows I missed.

It will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes without Marcus LeVelle to lead the gang. The current crew is a force of chaos and I hope to be a good influence on them in the pursuit of a straight forward quest for glory! But I suspect instead we’ll all get pulled off track as soon as something shiny and fun appears, such as the emotional backstory of a talking-pumpkin-with-the-soul-of-a-horse.

Can you tell us a bit more about your character or is it a secret?

If it’s a secret I’m telling you anyway! I am Marcel Maurice, dashing young minstrel seeking sufficient riches to be eligible to marry a proper Knight, and become a traditional Pellvanese house-husband. I’m somewhat naïve, free-spirited, romantic, and hiding a mysterious past…

What are you most looking forward to about the show?

The live illustration! Graham has show me some character art for Marcel Maurice already, which is just lovely, and I look forward to seeing the adventure brought to life in front of the audience.


Buy tickets for Tales of Adventure >

12th May | 9th June | 14th July

About Kierann

Kierann is an experienced improviser, workshop leader and facilitator who has been based in Leicester for the past few years, programming improv at the theatre Upstairs at the Western and performing with Midlands improv group Tiny Stories.

Kierann’s professional career has focused on STEM communication, working in various strategic and leadership roles for the National Space Academy and the Association of Science and Discovery Centres.

Her vision for the Bristol Improv Theatre is “to become a place where entry-level improvisers of all backgrounds feel welcomed and empowered to take part alongside established figures, where crowd-pleasing genre improv is programmed alongside experimental shows that crossover with other arts or technology, where the audience can be transported across cultures and beyond expectations, and where people leave talking excitedly about what they have just learned or seen and how it links to their lives or even inspires them to try something creative and new” 

“I’m delighted to be taking on the role of Artistic Director at the Bristol Improv Theatre. I’m in awe of what the Bristol Improv Theatre has achieved already: starting from scratch to becoming an integral part of Bristol’s cultural landscape, offering a fantastic welcome to new improvisers and a home to established performers. I will be challenging the theatre to go further in engaging different communities in Bristol and the South West and becoming more accessible – as well as breaking the stereotypes and assumptions about improv that hold it back from its potential.” Kierann Shah

About The Bristol Improv Theatre

The Bristol Improv Theatre is a young and exciting not-for-profit arts organisation, theatre and school and is the UK’s first dedicated venue for improvised theatre. Since opening its doors in 2017, the theatre has been host to numerous renowned improv companies and have helped to inspire other artists through their successful theatre school.

In the next few months, Kierann will be overseeing a packed programme of events including associate company shows This is Your Musical, The Bish Bosh Bash, Tales of Adventure, Degrees of Error & The Antics Joke Show. She will also be overseeing visiting acts The Dragprov Revue, Screwball: An Improvised Misadventure and participative events like Jams & Games Nights. 

Thank you to Caitlin Campbell 

We would also like to express our sincere thanks to our outgoing artistic director and co-founder Caitlin Campbell. Caitlin not only helped to establish the theatre as an important part of Bristol’s cultural landscape but also steered us through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“After eight years of working at the friendliest arts venue in Bristol, I am thrilled to now be handing over the creative reins to Kierann. Her vision for the Bristol Improv Theatre is inspiring, she has a brilliant creative mind and is a formidable organiser – I know that under her leadership the theatre will bring this incredible art form and accessible training to ever more Bristolians and south-westerners who will benefit from it.  I can’t wait to be a witness to the next exciting chapter of the Bristol Improv Theatre’s story with Kierann and Luke at the helm.” Caitlin Campbell

For press tickets or any media enquiries, contact Executive Director, Luke Mallison on luke.mallison@improvtheatre.net

We are once again taking part in the cultural flash sale, across Bristol and Bath. Read below for all of the events from us and our recommendations in this limited time sale!

Between 10am Thursday 27th January to 10am Friday 28th January, we’re offering 25% off these events and courses using the promo code FLASH22


These Folk | Fri 28th Jan | £9 (£12) >

These Folk is a tight, funny, heartwarming show performed by two of the most experienced improvisers in the UK.


The Antics Joke Show | Sat 29th Jan | £9 (£12) >

Up The Antics present their killer format of comedy variety including improvised, sketch and stand-up comedy


The Bish Bosh Bash | Fri 4th Feb & Fri 4th March | £9 (£12) >

The mischievous cast will seamlessly interweave your suggestions into their games and dazzle you with their improvised nonsense!


This Is Your Musical | Sat 5th Feb & Fri 18th March | £9 (£12)>

Prepare to be amazed as you witness the creation of a brand new musical theatre show, courtesy of The Bristol Improv Theatre’s flagship musical theatre company, This Is Your Musical!


The RH Experience | Fri 25th Feb | £9 (£12) >

Inspired by conversations with the audience, Stuck tells the story of three characters trapped by fate.


Tales of Adventure | Fri 11th March | £9 (£12) >

Join our brave band of heroes in an epic fantasy quest, improvised LIVE before your very eyes!


In brackets is the face value for each event. Please see below for more information on all shows included in the sale.

The Flash Sale discount cannot be retroactively applied to tickets already purchased



And don’t forget to check out the other awesome offers on arts and culture across Bristol and Bath!

Offers from our partner organisations:

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is offering a 20% discount on ticket prices for all performances of Pride and Prejudice and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Please note that the offer is redeemable online only by using promo code: 24BOVTS. Find out more >

Rondo Theatre are offering 25% off 7 upcoming shows including hilarious and moving show The Invisible Woman, real and unflinching solo show Battle Cry and a night of laughter at Comedy Kerfuffle. Find out more >

In preparation for another packed night of comedy at The Antics Joke Show, Antic Luke gives us an insight into how the cast feels during their last chance to get together before the day of the show.

 


The Theories

I’ve heard wildly different theories about how the last rehearsal before your upcoming show should go, from it should be as good as ever to hearing of groups purposefully doing a bad rehearsal so the only way is up for the performance*

*I may be embellishing this, but it was worth it for the contrast. 

The Day 

As I sit on the eve of Up The Antics final rehearsal before my favourite night The Antics Joke Show, there’s so much more going through my mind than the comedy itself. With my day-job as finance manager of the theatre, I have to gear shift from budgets and financial forecasts to creativity and wit.

The Night

However, I know when I step over that threshold into the theatre tonight and see my friends and co-performers (some of whom I have known for over a decade now), I know those fears will likely dissipate into nothing and no matter how the rehearsal goes. 

We could do the craziest, silliest, least accessible comedy during the rehearsal, and it won’t mean anything to me. These are the people who have my back and I have theirs, so when the stage lights come up and we run onto the stage on Friday, I know we’ll put on a kick-ass show!


The Antics Joke Show Ft. The Workplace is on Friday 22nd October at 8pm

Do The Right Scene are a group of black improvisers with a wealth of TV credits including BBC 3, BBC Radio 1 and Comedy Central. They will be performing at the theatre on Saturday and in this blog, we do a little preview for three of the cast who make up the group that are taking the improv world by storm.


Tai Campbell

Tai is a winner of BBC’s Comedy Writer’s Room with credits on BBC One, BBC Three and Vice.

As well as a writer he is a director, actor, comedian, improviser and celebrity impressionist.

He combines his socially aware comedy with surreal points of view.

Monica Gaga

Monica is a fizzy one and a right comedy corker; a Hoopla Impro teacher with finesse minus the stress, coming to orchestrate some classic comedy and improvisational sonatas as she conducts a score of merry mayhem.

Athena Kugblenu

Athena Kugblenu is a comedian and writer trying to dismantle the current world order by trying to make people who disagree with her laugh.

A BBC New Comedy Award finalist, her writing and performance credits include News Quiz, The Now Show, Museum of Curiosity, Loose Ends and BBC Scotland’s Breaking the News. She’s written sketches for BBC 4 (Sketchtopia), and written and presented online and print content for Stylist Magazine and Time Out.

She’s taken two acclaimed hours to the Edinburgh Fringe where her writing always makes the best jokes lists of The Guardian, Independent and The Telegraph. Her stand up has been demanded in Europe, Dubai and Johannesburg.

A respected commentator, Athena is a regular co-host of The Guilty Feminist and was invited to be a regular co-presenter of the Arts Hour on BBC Five Live in 2018.


“…authentic, observational comedy presented beautifully…pleasingly original” ★★★★ – Broadway Baby


Do The Right Scene will be performing on Saturday 16th October at 8pm.

Tom Wilkinson, director, “Screwball” takes us through the cast’s five favourite Screwball Comedies 


The easiest way to get an argument going among film fans is to get them to pick five screwball comedies. As we found researching our new show, the genre is loaded with the best dialogue, most beautiful stars, greatest romance in film history (sometimes with great songs, too) so choosing a top five is a game of leaving classics off the list and offending people. Still, who doesn’t love an argument: here’s our five. Fight us!

  1. The Lady Eve (1941)

If ever someone tells you a black and white film can’t be contemporary; that an old film can’t be sexy, or if they tell you that a film made for audiences eight decades ago will be slow – this movie will silence them in its opening minutes. By its closing reel, your sceptical friend will usually be ready to open a cinema and dedicate their life to film. 

Barbara Stanwyck plays a card sharp who seduces, falls for, loses, and re-seduces a hapless millionaire (Henry Fonda), in a movie that balances sex, slapstick, and razor wit so brilliantly it makes the whole thing look as easy as breathing.  If you watch one screwball comedy – hell, if you watch just one more film in your life  – make it this one. The only problem is that it spoils you for all other movies. Why can’t they all be as good as this?

  1. Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Probably the most “Screwball” of the films  –beautiful stars doing stupid things at breakneck speed, and occasionally singing: in this case, in order to tame a leopard. 

Cary Grant plays an improbably beautiful paleontologist (a model for Clark Kent) trying to secure a million dollars for his museum – if only Katherine Hepburn wouldn’t insist on inflicting chaos on his life and periodically near-kidnapping him in fits of apparent absent-mindedness. Action moves to the countryside, where Hepburn’s leopard (the Baby of the piece) starts to cause serious trouble, and things accelerate to their breathless, barmy conclusion. A frantic gem.

  1. The Palm Beach Story (1942)

If you’re hankering after another Preston Sturges film after the Lady Eve, this makes a perfect pair: the writer-director’s next-but-one feature dials up the farce and the chaos, staying just within what the censors of the day would allow. Claudette Colbert plays the wife of a struggling architect, who decides to divorce him and marry a millionaire to fund his ideas. He sets off in pursuit, a millionaire turns up on the same train, and things accelerate from there.

If a happy tale of wise-cracking New Yorkers wooing Florida millionaires in disguise sounds familiar, it might be because this is an alleged model for Some Like It Hot – but this is more madcap in its situations and more grown-up in its dialogue than that later classic. It also might be the best-dressed screwball comedy, which is saying a lot in a glamorously crowded field.

  1. To Be Or Not to Be (1942)

No, not the Mel Brooks remake (good though that is): Imagine a comedy about the Nazis in Poland, made when they still might win the war.  Jack Benny and Carole Lombard are bickering married members of an acting troupe, who find they need to use their thespian skills to avoid a list of resistance members being handed to the Nazis.

A screwball film is often a few things at once, but this takes that layering to another level – as well as the sophisticated romance and the farce you’d expect, it’s also a genuinely tense thriller and a lopsided tribute to the acting profession. You’ll be charmed, shocked, maybe a little scandalised – but never bored. 

  1. The Awful Truth (1937)

This divided the cast when we watched it, but as the author I’m getting to choose, and anyway this is Cary Grant’s first screwball comedy and we should salute a Bristol hero. 

Grant and Irene Dunne are getting divorced; in meeting each others’ new partners they realise they were in love all along.  Like The Palm Beach story, this is a comedy of remarriage, a feature of several screwball comedies  designed to get round censors (“but you see officer, these are married people fooling around”). More than the other films in the list, this revels in tiny moments, little looks and reactions, building little by little into jewel-box farce. 


Or if you prefer…

If you’d like to see a new screwball story conjured from thin air before your eyes, with a drink in your hand and live music to boot, then come to our show, 30 Sep-2 Oct, at the Bristol Improv Theatre. Then argue with us afterwards about why our choices were all wrong.

Book tickets for Screwball: An Improvised Misadventure

Q: Hey Screwball Team! How are you doing? How have rehearsals been going?

Hey! Can you imagine if you dreamed up a musical supergroup a year-and-a-half ago, and now your wish came true and you’re watching them play? It’s like that! Every hour is a joy, working with your heroes…

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the show and what audiences can expect?

It’s an all-star improv tribute to the fastest and funniest romantic comedies of the golden age of Hollywood. Crazy scenarios, heart-stopping dialogue, songs in the style of the great American songbook, and a cast who look gorgeous in white tie. It’s glamour in a bottle! No, glamour in a martini glass! Did we mention the cocktails? 

Q: How did the idea for the show come about? What is it about the Screwball genre that you thought would mix well with improv?

We’d toured genre improv shows for years, and when we were alone in the theatres together we’d sing these songs and act these characters to show off and have fun. Caitlin, the Bristol Improv Theatre artistic director said that was something we shouldn’t keep to ourselves. We were delighted to make it a show.

As for why the genre: the best screwball films are about razor-sharp wits, about surprise and delight, about a battle of the sexes where the women have the upper hand – they’re champagne for the mind, which is why they still top the polls for the best comedies and romances ever made. What a challenge to offer great improvisers, to talk and sing like that…

Q: How are you turning a film genre into a stage show? 

Well, lots of the classic screwball comedies started off as plays – or were turned into them – so it’s easy to capture the same spirit. Plus we’ll incorporate some projections into the show as a way of capturing that style. We can’t say more at the moment but we’re really excited about those. 

Q: Is this show a good fit with the Bristol Improv Theatre? 

The Bristol Improv Theatre team is fantastic, they’re not afraid to make their main theatre into a nightclub-mixed-with-screening room to put on the show. Plus, we have to mention Bristol as the home of screwball comedy – its greatest (male) star Cary Grant was a local boy and you can see that spirit survives in the Slapstick and Cary Comes Home festivals. It’s an honour to join that madcap tradition…

Q: What’s it like to be back performing again after the last 18 months? How are you feeling about things getting ‘back to normal’? 

Well, we’re still being COVID-safe backstage – with regular testing, masking when moving around the theatre, and the rest –  so it’s more “on the way to normal’ than all the way there. That said, it’s great to discover that the atmosphere of the BIT is the same as it was. Audiences will always have that same thirst for the live experience, and good improv is the best way to slake it (aided, of course, by a themed cocktail from the theatre bar). 

Q: Has the pandemic changed any aspects of the show from when you were originally meant to perform it in 2020?

It’s less a case of the structure changing than the mood – in a strange way, being apart for 18 months has made us more of a company. We all appreciate what we’re doing a great deal more; we’re more joyful, more willing to dive in, and that has had incredible results for the show.

Q: What part of the process are you most looking forward to/have enjoyed the most?

We’re still devising the show for its premiere at the Bristol Improv Theatre, so if we’re allowed a cheat answer, the best part is always the next rehearsal, trying the new things we found! So far, though, the most exciting thing has been the music – Tom [Hodge, pianist from Paul Merton’s Impro Chums and Dragprov] has helped us find a style that’s rooted in the jazz age but still sounds fresh today. 

Q: Why should people come and see the show?

Timeless romance; timeless glamour; timeless music; watching the quickest wits in Improv win your heart. There are few better improv casts you could see in the whole country, and it’s a thrill to be able to show them at their best.


Buy tickets for Screwball: An Improvised Misadventure. 23rd, 23th, 25th, 30th September; 1st, 2nd October. Time: 20:00

We’re looking forward to welcoming more of you to the theatre as restrictions ease. However, we’re aware a lot of you might still feel anxious about attending the theatre.

Therefore we’re making a few changes to the way we operate so we can welcome more of you in a safe and secure way.


What we’re doing and what we expect from you:

 

CABARET SEATING IS STAYING 

We’re continuing with cabaret seating in our theatre spaces and we’re increasing capacity. We’re placing a few more tables in the space and re-arranging our seating plan. But the theatre still won’t be at full capacity.

This will allow you to sit with the group you booked with.Tables are available in groups of 2,4 and 6. 

BOOKING IN ADVANCE

While we have cabaret seating, we’re still asking everyone to book tables in advance. This allows us to plan the seating arrangement for the evening. 

We’ll  still ask you to sign in on the NHS COVID 19 app when you arrive, or provide us with contact details from your group. 

HAND WASHING

We’ll ask you to continue to use our contactless hand-washing stations that are situated at the front entrance and the entrance to the theatre. 

WEARING MASKS

We ask that yo uwear a mask when arriving at the theatre and moving in the corridors. You are invited to wear a mask when observing in the audience but this isn’t mandatory.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

While restrictions have eased, we ask you to be mindful of other people’s personal space while moving around the building. 

BAR SERVICE

When arriving at the theatre, you’ll be shown to your table for the evening and invited to go to the bar to order your drinks before the show. The bar will also be open during the interval and after the show.  There will be a clearly signed, socially distanced queue to the bar. 

We’ll also have some tables set out in the bar where you can enjoy your drinks in a bigger space. 

THEATRE SCHOOL 

We’ll gradually increase the capacity of our classes, but  will keep no contact games or activities. We’re capping the courses starting in September 2021 at 12 spaces. 

We ask students to respect one another’s personal space during classes and allow space between you where possible. 

We will also be offering one fully socially distant  4-week course per teaching block. This will be capped at 8 spaces to allow plenty of room for everyone taking part. And we’ll ask participants to stay 2m away from everyone at all times.

With the latest news that restrictions are likely to be eased on the 19th July, we wanted to let you know the Bristol Improv Theatre’s plans for the next few months. 

We have really enjoyed seeing everyone back at the theatre since we re-opened in May and look forward to continuing this wild journey of artistic recovery with you. 

We believe it is important for audiences and students to be able to attend based on the assurances they were given at the time of purchasing a ticket or a space on one of our courses. 

As such, we are retaining many of our COVID safety measures until at least the end of August. With cases still increasing, this is to protect our audiences and staff, many of whom are yet to receive their second dose of the vaccine. 

We will still expect audiences to wear masks while moving around the venue, and will still be offering table service to our socially distanced cabaret layout. 

Read the COVID security pages on our website for more information on what we are doing and what we expect from you. 

September 2021 onwards

Watch this space: we will be publishing updates to our policies and plans for September onwards in the next couple of weeks. 

Hello everyone, we have just heard the news from the government that we are plunging full on into more banana bread, yoga and zoom quizzes AKA a new lockdown.

We will be rescheduling our shows and updating our classes. All show bookers will be contacted with new dates, and class attendees will be contacted in due course.

For any queries or concerns please get in touch with us on hello@improvtheatre.net

See you on the other side!