Keith Johnstone Reunion with members of theatre Machine (seated) at the Royal Court. Jon Oram (standing left) Keith Johnstone (Seated Centre) & Roddy Maude Roxby (seated right)


6th April 2018

First Impro Club Night is Almondo

Our first Impro Club night on 30th April is at the Rusthall, St James street, Rusthall We 7pm for drinks at the bar, the show starts at 7.30 with a brief introduction and explanation of the improvisation format we will be using. The players will then improvise for 45 minutes. There is then a brief ten minutes so the audience can replenish their glasses and we then have a Q&A, discussion and audience feedback. The impro we will be playing is the Almondo – a form of comic improvisation . The audience are asked for a  word  to stimulte short monologues by the players who will then create a series of sketches of varying lengths. The show is free; the purpose of Club Nights is let the audience in on the secret of the games so they can better appreciate the shows; and for you to give feedback to the players so they can give you the kind of shows you like. The players for this evening will be Scott, John, Chris and Dan. Jon Oram will be your host. We hope you support these evenings or at the very least give one of them a try. We want to create theatre that doesn’t ignore the audience, that they feel included in the evening; it should be a shared experience

Performance 30th April, 7.30. The Rusthall, St Jame’s Street, Rusthall

Scott Kingsnorth is Probably Offensive

Scott, who is one of our Claqueurs has written a challenging play about a very contemporary issue. He puts intelligent questions about the media’s rights and responsibilties about cartoons and satire generally. Are any subjects out of bounds? if anyone has been offended by the play itself, I would say they have missed the point. Nothing was gratuitous, so justified any offensiveness; this is, I think, one of the points expressed in the play, although it cleverly posed more questions than answers, the very purpose of Drama.  A group of went to see his play at the Printers Playhouse in Eastbourne this week, I think some may have felt wary of the subject matter went purely to support Scott, but everyone came away deep in thought and impressed by Scott’s mature writing. It’s having a short run of four performances but deserves a wider audience.

27th March 2018

Mask and Improvisation with Roddy Maude Roxby

It was great to have a day workshop in masks and improvisation with Roddy Maude Roxby. Roddy is an actor of stage, film and television, he has worked with masks and improvisation for over 50 years and was a co-creator of improvisational games developed at the Royal Court Theatre with Keith Johnstone; and was one of the original members of “Theatre Machine. An early innovator at the Royal College of Art, alongside David Hockney and Peter Blake, he was one of the UK’s first performance artists, before it was a recognised art form.
Roddy has appeared in numerous films, such as Walt Disney’s The Aristocats, where he appeared as Edgar Balthazar Unconditional Love; and Clint Eastwood’s White Hunter Black Heart, playing Thompson. He has also made theatrical and television appearances in, among other shows, The Goodies, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, Not Only…But Also, and The Establishment. He won the Theatre of the Year Award for Best Comic New York in 1968 for his work as a stand-up comedian.
He also collaborated in a pre-Monty Python series with Michael Palin and Terry Jones, called The Complete and Utter History of Britain.Roddy was Jon’s first improvisation teacher in the late 1970’s and they remained friends and worked together on and off ever since. For notes on the workshop go to the blog.

15th September 2017

Royal Court Theatre Reunion for Keith Johnstone

Jon Oram attended a reunion between Keith Johnstone and the early members of Theatre Machine at the Royal Court Theatre. Keith is the instigator of the British form of improvisation that is the fundemental base of Claqueur Impro’s style. The Royal Court Theatre was Keith’s early theatrical home. He had been appointed Literary Manager of the Court, reading and selecting scripts, when Bill Gaskill invited him to run the writer’s workshop 50years ago. The philosophy was not to talk if you could show or do – action over words. So when Edward Bond was struck with the idea that a chair could be a character on stage, the writers had to stand up to demonstrate it. John Arden, David Cregan, Edward Bond, and Ann Jellicoe were among the writer’s in the group. It was an extraordinary reunion in the week that Ann died. The writer’s group had a huge influence on Ann, the writing of her play the Knack came directly out of those workshops, and the idea of don’t tell but show if you can was a big part of her directing as well as writing. Alongside the writers group Keith started developing improvisation with actors and they became Theatre Machine. Here they discovered the significance of status to make performance more natural, and many of the games and rules such as yes..and that are still a fundamental basis of impro.  Keith told us how much they laughed, which inspired them to perform it to audiences to check that it wasn’t just them that found it so amusing. The audiences laughed even more and louder. When Keith left England for Canada in the mid seventies, Theatre Machine continued performing and developing their own style. Roddy Maude Roxby has an big influence on their style, especially with his love of masks. Roddy was Jon’s first Impro teacher and he was later to work with Keith. Keith’ work and his book Impro has changed theatre in perforce and training dramatically. There was no improvisation in drama schools then, now its an essential part of the actors training. The performance of impro as a distinct theatre medium is now practiced by companies world wide.

Lee Simpson of Improbable Theatre (left) Jon Oram (centre) Keith Johnstone (right)
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