One of the Cambridge Impronauts’ most joyful players is Alice Wenban. Let’s get her views on performing, teaching and directing.
Alice, can you tell me how you came to be a member of the Impronauts? Had you done anything like it before Uni? How did you find out about us? What do you recall from IRL Open Workshops? How did you become a fully fledged member?
I had never done any Improv before Nauts (the last time I was on stage before I started performing with you was my Year-6 Xmas play). I met the team at the Freshers’ Fair and thought it sounded fun! I started going to open workshops (sporadically at first): they were scary but really fun.
In Easter term of first year I committed to making myself go every week as a #selfcare thing. I improved a lot during that term and really fell in love with it. I became a member the next term!
Pretty soon after you joined, you co-created, directed, and performed in one of our term-shows at the ADC Theatre. How would you describe the show, and how did it feel to bring it to life?
Whim City was a film noir style long-form. It came from a discussion about monologues and how funny they would be taken to the extreme in a film noir context. The show was very silly and that was the reason it was so fun. It was great to bring it to life for my first long-form, and I was really proud of it!
Any tips for someone thinking of creating their own Improv long-form?
Workshop about what genres have fun tropes you can parody and then from there work out which of those tropes lends itself to prompts from the audience.
You went on to play in Improgeddon, an Improv show directed by Sophia Marshall. How did you cope with being directed rather than giving the direction? If you had done Improgeddon first, what might you have changed in Whim City?
I l-o-v-e-d Improgedden! In all honesty not having to direct it made it 100% less stressful, and Sophia was such a good Director; she taught us all so much and I was really proud of the result. I think I would have done what Sophia did where she chose when scenes ended as the Lighting Director. This cut a lot of scenes before they got the chance to get crap (which is a really useful tool). In Whim City, the cast decided when to end each scene, whereas in Improgeddon this was done from the lighting booth.
What do you think about the two approaches? Are they suited to different types of show, or is one a clear winner for you? Have you come across other types of “edit” that you’d like to try?
Self-editing does give more control to the cast; Overall though I would go with Director-cut unless it’s a very, very, very familiar-with-each-other cast.
You got elected to the committee and were our Troupe Director for a year. Alice, what were the best thing and the worst thing about that role? How did you approach the task – did you have a particular goal? What was your proudest moment?
The best thing was definitely the fun of running the workshops. I really enjoyed getting to make a plan and carry it out and see people improve on the skills I was showing. I also liked directing the shows; it was fun to get to put my fave games in.
The worst was probably the nerves of pitching shows (what if I ruin it and we don’t get the shows!!!) And the sheer amount of work in the role. I tried to be super prepared: I planned all my workshops a term in advance, which really helped with the workload.
My proudest moment was probably after one of the really good Quickfires we did.
Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I’d like to finish by asking you to pitch me a show.
An improvised cooking show but with real ingredients and improvisers who definitely can’t cook. We will see how good their acting skills are as they try and pretend to be a real chef. After the show the audience tries the food. We get 5 Stars from The Tab if no one gets food poisoning.