We reached out to Dylan Perera to ask him about his time in The Cambridge Impronauts, and to get his thoughts on the variety of experiences with us.
Thanks for talking with me about your time in Improv and the Impronauts. For those who don’t know you, could you say where and what you study, and what your favourite non-improv activities were before and after lockdown?
My name is Dylan and I’m a student at King’s studying Economics. Even before lockdown, I enjoyed cooking and baking, but that’s become less of a hobby and more of a necessity. However, lockdown has given me lots more time to binge cooking videos on YouTube and I now have Bake Off to accompany me. I also enjoy video & board games, listening to hip-hop music and playing around with tech, but obviously, Improv is the most fun activity I do.
What first got you to try Improv, and what kept you coming? Have you done much else in theatre before or since?
When I arrived at Cambridge, I only had a vague idea of what Improv was from obscure pop culture references and recollections of scenes from ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’. So when I saw that the Cambridge Impronauts were performing during my freshers week, I thought ‘that’ll be fun’. I didn’t realise just how much enjoyment and awe I would feel from watching this strange group of people pull comedy gold out of nowhere like magic. At the end of the show, when they said they hosted workshops that were open to anyone, I had to go and find out how it was done.
I haven’t done any theatre apart from with the Impronauts, so my confidence was pretty low when starting out. But – without exaggeration – I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive and helpful group of people to foster my love of Improv. I should also give a shoutout to my College Wife and fellow Impronaut, Tally, whose boundless enthusiasm often dragged me out of bed on a Saturday to attend workshops.
You were in a few short-form Quickfire! shows, Dylan, but you’ve also done some long-forms. Can you tell me about those experiences? What were your favourite elements of each?
Yes, I have done a few Quickfires, which were understandably nervewracking at first, but they’re now a more laidback and familiar format of show for me – kind of like the Improv games I would see on TV.
My first long-form was a completely different ballgame though. It was at the Edinburgh Fringe – not the most lowkey place to make your debut – and we were doing a show called Improv Actually (an improvised rom-com). The cast were incredibly talented and to be honest I felt a little bit out of my depth, but the shows went well and this ‘baptism in fire’ made me a lot more confident for my next long-form show.
With Whim City: An Improvised Film Noir I had a lot more time to develop a familiarity with the format and chemistry with the cast. I absolutely loved the wild storylines and characters we would come up with and have to justify in rehearsals (and the probably even wilder ones we would perform on stage). It was by far my best Improv experience with some of the funniest moments of my Improv career and I’m really proud of what we produced.
As you’ve moved into online performances, you’ve managed to keep making great use of physicality! Do you have any thoughts or tips that you can share?
Yeah. My main tip/thought is that online performances are, while somewhat constraining, an opportunity to try out new, innovative ideas that you can’t really do on a physical stage. The best ideas I’ve seen and used involve using “cinematography” in various interesting ways. For example, you can squeeze yourself into a tiny little corner of the shot or be inches away from the audience by moving your face right up to the webcam – that definitely wouldn’t be allowed at a live show!
What do you miss about performing IRL? What are the upsides of training and performing online?
Performing online does mean that I don’t have to trek all the way to the ADC to go to workshops/rehearsals, but that doesn’t make up for actually being able to meet up with all of the Impronauts and chat with them in 3D. I do miss some of the more physical aspects of performing IRL as well, like being able to run around the stage or physically interact with other characters. But like I said, I’ve seen so many innovative ways of trying to replicate this that make it even more hilarious.
Finally, please pitch a show!
I’m so glad you asked! I’ve had this idea for a while but wasn’t sure when I would want to pitch it. It’s an improvised tech drama, sort of in the style of Black Mirror. I think it would be great to get the audience’s anxieties about modern life and take them to the extremes, turning them into a sort of dark comedy. Actually, I think if we are likely to be continuing with online shows, then this idea might fit that format really well.
Thanks Dylan, I’m looking forward to performing together, soon!