Sunday, 9 December 2007


You all worked hard throughout the term. So good luck on Monday.
The main thing is to enjoy it and to have a good time in the process. And always remember that what you have learned (and still learning) is the main objective.
I'll be looking forward to it.



Tuesday, 4 December 2007


1) Blog
This week we were able to have a rehearsal as a whole class and focus on blending our two performances together. At the start of the rehearsal we altered some of our stage positioning and will now have a designated props table on one side of the stage. My group then also decided that if we can we will tell completely new stories, to avoid making our improvisations look too contrived. This alteration improved our performances greatly and the mistakes that came from not knowing added comedy to the performance. As a class we have also decided that our costume will be one piece of red clothing, mixed with either jeans or the colour black.

Posted by Emma Bilton

2) Improbable Week 10
I thought our rehearsal and run through this week went really well! I'm feeling optimistic about our final performance, obviously some small things need work, but our basic structure is quite pleasing I think; I look forward to our rehearsal tomorrow where we can sort out some of our technical problems, and also a few of the other small issues with the piece.

Posted by Ella Rhodes

3) Blog
Monday's seminar/rehearsal was just amazing!! Everything seemed to fit. At last. Although there are still various things we have to think about, like how we want to incorporate music or lighting one can clearly see where it'll be going now.
And, once again, we experienced the magic about improvasition. I had so much pleasure in watching (from the back) Faith improvising on a completely new narrative of Chloe. It had humour, wit and excitement in it. I really do hope that we will be able to achieve something similar next Monday. Because after all, you cannot plan things like that. We also tried to repeat some scenes that had worked beforehand in a similar way. These attempts turned out to be rather unsuccessful and quite dissapointing at some points. People were trying to stick to a pattern which once worked and you could sense that the freshness was missing and they were waiting for 'something' to come up while acting which just didn't seem to happen.
However, we will be focusing on some basic things that still need to be worked on during this week and try not to overthink the actual improvisation narratives. I hope this will help us creating an enjoyable 20 minute show for the audience on Monday, December 10th.

Posted by Mirjam Frank

4) Blog week 10
I was really intrigued by this week's rehearsal as a whole class. Although it was difficult to keep concentration as a group at times, I felt that it actually went rather well. As I had missed the previous rehearsal, I was really interested to see how the pieces had been merged - as it turned out although they had been merged it became an apparently different piece with the whole group there and an interesting diversion for the other half of the group. Although I had not seen many of the other groups individual stories to start with, it was clear that they were becoming stale to the actors, if not to the audience. They were unhappy with this though, and it became so much more alive when Chloe came up with a completely surprising new story. It was incredibly cheerful thing to watch - a group becoming so much more involved and happy with a piece simply because of a small change. I am really looking forward to tomorrow and mroe surprises!

Posted by Emma Fielding

5) Blog
i really feel we made a lot of progress on monday, and there is a genuine sense of cohesion and ensemble within the group now, which i think is so helpful to the improvisation we do. putting in a surprise story, not only produced a wonderful scene but proved that we can make a good scene out of true improv, even though at times we are scared 2 go into performing something unknown.

Posted by Chloe Gosling

6) Blog
I really understand what Improbable mean when they say they are never fully prepared for a piece before they perform it. If it was i think it would take away from the excitement of it, some of the life and energy of the performance as a whole. We are prepared and our rehearsal time has been well spent, especially in the last two weeks, but the only elements we are not prepared on our basically our improvisations (which is a good thing funnily enough). And that is the only thing that scares me, how our performance could go spectacularly or it could just be ok. i don't believe anything bad will happen but i want the whole thing to go as best as it possibly can. We'll see i guess!

Posted by George Calderwood

7) Week 10 Blog
I feel that as a whole group we have definitely improved our piece over the last week. The extra rehearsals we have had have helped us to understand the exact blocking of our piece as well as focusing on certain scenes and extracts that needed work. Although, as a group we feel we have produced a good piece of work, we do not want to rehearse it too much as it would take away the creativeness and spontaneity of the piece. I am looking forward to performing it and feel that itshould go very well.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

Comment: Having a performance with spontaneous elements doesn't mean that you shouldn't rehearse too much. Rehearsals are also intended to help you feel more comfortable and confident about your skills and tools, and to help you develop your connection between yourselves and between you and the work. Nesreen

8) Keeping it Improvised
I have really enjoyed our rehearsals this week and am looking forward to our performance on Monday. On Monday's lesson it was great to see the spontaneous ideals of Improbable being used in our piece, particularly through Chloe's idea to change her story at the last minute. I found the use of a new story refreshing and it allowed the others t improvise in a much cleared and easier way as they were not blocked by previous ideas. On Wednesday's rehearsal, George's idea to play some improv games to further boost the energy and spontaneity of the group was really effective and I think we all benefited from it. I guess it just goes to prove that the best ideas can come from play!

Posted by Fran Smith

I think that the rehearsals on Saturday were very interesting. Although the first run through was quite unenthusiastic it shows that when working in different spaces you can get quite intimidated. I do think that the idea of making the space ourselves was a good idea as it allowed us to take control of the situation. Overall I think the piece will go very well.

Posted by Louisa Hagan

10) Blog
I'm feeling quite optimistic about tomorrow. Of course with impro there's always a chance it'll fall flat on its face, but I think if we perform with as much energy as we did yesterday we'll be fine. I'm much happier now that we have our "entrance" to get us going.

Posted by Emma Berge

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

CTM Showings' Running Order - December 10


10 am Studio Theatre – Tara Arts
10.30 am Sutherland House to Boilerhouse – Shunt
11. 00 Boilerhouse – Bread and Puppet

Afternoon – all in Boilerhouse

2pm Forced Entertainment
2.30 Improbable
3.00 Trestle


1) Blog
Once again i feel that my group had a successful rehearsal. We continued begin our sessions with games such as 'bang' and 'what the duck?' in order to raise our energy levels. We then carried on improvising one another's stories, this time incorporating random objects into these improvisations where we felt it was necessary. Through doing this we were able to incorporate more people into the scenes and made the stories more visual. When group b then watched what we had so far, i was pleased to hear that they have gone in a similar direction, which will mean that hopefully the two pieces will gel nicely. They also gave us some helpful tips such as having the story teller walk around the improvisations as they take place, and also to explore ways of making smoother change overs. My group have booked the mirror room on Wednesday 2-4pm and we have now invited the other group to come along also!

Posted by Emma Bilton

2) Blog
It was exciting to see the other groups work yesterday and i was really impressed with what they had come up with. What was even better was the fact that we all seemed very keen as a whole ensemble to mesh the two pieces of work together. It was something i was sceptical about as i thought the pieces might be completely different but it feels as though the underlying issues of irrational fears and story telling are the same in both groups. I'm excited to see where we take this.

Posted by Fiona Allison

3) Blog
I really begin to enjoy the rehearsals for our final production now!! It was particularly useful that we showed each other (among the two groups) the outcomes of last week's working process. This was the first time where I could visualize, where all this might be going. Everything became so much clearer. I found that our permanent use of newspaper really works quite well and was astonished how the others who hadn't seen it before were able to understand our doings. Also the other way round: I experienced what Phelim means by using the notion of "gaps" within the plays. While they were doing their version of "Lifegame", I added my own pictures from my 'inner world' to those I saw on stage. It is really important to leave this specific allowance to dream to the audience. At least to me.

I also attached a picture of our work with newspaper ;-)

Posted by Mirjam Frank

4) Rehearsals So Far
I found Monday's class really interesting because we got to see where the other group are going with their piece in relation to ours. Despite some initial worries about not being able to mix the pieces well, there are obviously some ways that the two can be connected which is really good.
I am also finding that most of the things our group comes up with are simply through playing, rather than a clear structure to our rehearsal which is interesting and more improbable like than any other means of creation I think. It is relieving to realise that out group have a basic few scenes now and that we can work on these with the other group to create links and things with the help of outsiders to the piece - and that we can help them in any way as well. I am pleasantly surprised that we have managed to get something like this out of only a few weeks work, and I hope that we can make it into something even more improbable-like and interesting in the next two weeks.

Posted by Emma Fielding

5) Blog
in my blog for this week i would like to say i was extremely impressed by the other group's work, and am excited by the prospect of putting our pieces together, i think as a group we grow more like an ensemble everyday and that we are all very aware now of what is 'improbable like' and what is not!

Posted by Chloe Gosling

6) Improbable Blog
One of the most useful opportunities this week has been performing our work in progress to the other half of the class and also watching their work in progress. Both our group and their group seem to have been inspired by Improbable’s use of narration. I was impressed by how playful the other group’s performance was. I also thought that they used newspaper imaginatively. Despite the fact that they were playful the other group still portrayed fear appropriately. The newspaper baby being torn to shreds is a raw and quite unpleasant moment. I think our pieces will fit well together and hope our group can take some inspiration from the other group. I like the fact that our group use random objects within our performance but still feel that we can make more use of them. I think we also need to develop the human marionettes concept further. When not actively performing within the performance we remain in marionette poses but to the audience it is probably not clear why. This is something that we could explore when we experiment with the sections that link each story to one another.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow

7) Combining our Pieces
I was very pleased to see on Monday that our two group performances are quite similar and have great potential for combining. I really enjoyed watching the other group perform and found their idea to be very interesting. I particularly liked the spontaneity of the scenes. In our rehearsal on Wednesday we discussed ways in which we will be able to put together the two pieces into one performance and I am looking forward to exploring those ideas further in our next rehearsal.

Posted by Fran Smith

8) Blog
This week's rehearsals have been really insightful, working with the other group on Wednesday was really insightful. I've been really bogged down with flu lately but the energy in rehearsals was really invigorating, i especially enjoyed the games we began with. i feel as though the two groups have really come together now.

Posted by Gemma Moran

9) Blog and Review Thing
First the review that i had to do on how our process of devising at the moment relates to that of Satyagraha:
The whole process for Improbable seemed very unusual. For instance the story was already there and they just had to work with what they were given. In relation to us this way of working doesn't directly connect but there is a way in which it seems improbable are still not forcing anything to come which, i believe, is very true of our group. Progress in the beginning wasn't slow but it wasn't fast either as we weren't forcing ideas; we weren't making a piece for the sake of it so we could pass a course, we were honestly waiting for the right ideas to produce themselves. Although you could claim this is a lazy method of working, it really isn't, and to say it is, i think, is very closed minded.
All the members of improbable claimed that they really had to create a strong feeling of ensemble throughout the entire working process. Some of the interviews with Phelim and Julian made this very clear when they both said just that. Although Julian did say it was slightly weird not working with Phelim so closely as he is used to. Working as an ensemble is surely an obvious necessity for any dramatical/theatrical group but for work such as ours where we have to rely on each other massively for the work to be created, having a strong feeling of ensemble really is something we have created.
Finally, the way in which there are various different angles or visions being created at one time in the process of creating Satyagraha is intriguing. There are so many brilliant ideas being created by all the production team and it all seems to come together so well (or at least it seems so by the good reviews) and this can be said to be true of our work. Being split into two groups and now having to merge both teams ideas into one seemed slightly daunting but it was amazing how well this turned out and how simple it really was.

During this week i think a lot of our works initial ideas have become more emphasised and clarified. Characters have become more focused and most of us now really know what we have to do to make our performance a really good experience for us and the audience. Hopefully our last week of practicing and experimenting will ensure our piece will be the best it can as all our ideas are now essentially on the table, we just have to clarify them!
The way our two groups worked so well together is brilliant, it was a fairly simple experience mixing both pieces and i'm really glad there were no megalomaniac moments from anyone or such other problematic events! No one wants to take charge of the group which means our work remains our work and not a product of any one person's imagination or vision which is not what we are trying to create.
i hope that's all that's needed!

Posted by George Calderwood

10) Blog
Everything's coming together quite nicely now. The only thing that's worrying me at all is pace, but having a look at some of Improbable's work the pace is quite slow but you don't notice too much because of their intensity. Maybe this would help us.

Posted by Emma Berge

11) Blog for week 9
I was extremely pleased that my group progressed really well on Monday's lesson. We were able to come up with two new fears for our piece, death and nudity. We then focused on them for the remainder of the lesson, making sure they were polished and we were happy with what we had done. Furthermore, I was very impressed with what the other group had come up with, as I was able to see that both pieces were linked and would fit together. Also, yesterday's rehearsal went well in the Boilerhouse, considering it was our first run through of the whole piece put together. As a whole ensemble we worked well together making sure everybody had their say throughout the rehearsal. I enjoyed it and feel that the piece as a whole is coming together.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

12) Coming Together
After our meeting with the other group on Wednesday I am looking forward to merging our 2 pieces together. However, at the same time I am pleased that originally we worked as 2 separate groups. By doing this we have given ourselves many ideas and concepts, influenced byImprobable, to create an innovative final performance as one unit. Although both groups have worked in different ways we have found many parallels in our ideas which will allow us to develop our piece as a larger ensemble. Our work with objects, puppets, spontaneity and the concept of 'fear' are excellent starting points. Also it is great that the other groups' playful work process has rubbed off on our group!

Posted by Faith Brandon-Blatch

13) Improbable Blog
This week our rehearsal went quite well. We decided on how to combine both of our pieces and the run through in the boiler house was structurally fine, although there is still a lot of work to be done. I watched Theatre of Blood and The Hanging Man. I found both pieces to be extremely interesting, I especially enjoyed The Hanging Man and its themes of death and the way in which Improbable dealt with this tricky subject. Theatre of Blood was extremely gory and entertaining! I loved the concept of theatre critics being killed one by one by a rubbish actor, it somehow acted as a parody of critics and actors alike which was very clever. I am becoming more and more fond of Improbable’s work and would love to have seen Satyagraha.

Posted by Ella Rhodes

14) Blog
in this week's rehearsal it was interesting to see how our small improvisations with newspaper could be turned into something bigger. pleased with our initial ideas, we followed their development and found that each separate section could be linked together to form one complete piece. After watching the other groups piece, it was interesting to see the differences but also the similarities between theirs and ours. Using the same sort of structure and sense of narrative, as well as having the same overall theme helped in our thoughts on how to integrate the two pieces.

Posted by Emily Cookson

Friday, 23 November 2007


- 30 November: Rehearsal at Boilerhouse (10 am-12 pm)

- 08 December: Run-through at Boilerhouse (12-2 pm)

- 10 December: Final showing at Boilerhouse (2.30 pm)

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


1) Final Performance
I am finding the preparation for our performance a very different experience to the previous sessions we have had on Improbable. Now that we have the knowledge and are simply applying it in smaller groups, and in ways that work particularly for us, I am finding that there is plenty of material being produced. I was slightly apprehensive that there would be some difficulties in creating 10 minutes worth of interesting performance, but now I see that if we keep working the way we are we will be fine! Our group has developed a very playful attitude to working - but this seems to work well for us. We found that we were most productive when we just played around with different ideas, and just let things emerge. I am looking forward to our other rehearsal time to see where this goes next.

Posted by Emma Fielding

2) Meeting and Blog
We met again before the lesson on Monday and were quite productive. We refined our circus idea more, discussed the possibilities of light and shadow, how we could use our objects, possibilities of costume, timing, opportunities to meet, effective use of the space, and came up with the following questions to ask in the lesson: 1. What were the lighting facilities we could use? 2. How much time did we have for set construct/destruct/practise in the space on the day?3. How close to 20 minutes do the group have to be (e.g. give or take a minute?) (We never asked the third question because I forgot. How flexible is the 20 minutes?)
Sadly, a lot of the ideas we came up with in the hour and a half can be used because of the lighting problems.

It's very difficult trying to come up with a devised piece when not in the space, as we found this week when told about the skylight. Also we found that games, whilst fun and amusing, can often just lead to procrastination rather than something productive. Our most productive moments came through a mixture of discussion, improvisation and refinement

Posted by Emma Berge

Comment: Games can never lead to procrastination of played with commitment and enjoyment. It's one of the most productive and energy-inducing ways to start a work process. Almost all of professional devising companies start their process with games, including Improbable, Complicite, among many others. If you have read any of the books I mentioned on Devising, or if you even read that photocopied section I handed to you last week, you would've realized this.
Actually, all of the reading material you've been reading this term, and all of the work and discussions we did since week 1 highlight this notion repeatedly!
So I am surprised at this conclusion: that games lead to procrastination!

Next time you rehearse, you MUST start with games.... be more focused and committed and you'll be surprised at how much you will produce. Nesreen

3) Blog
I felt our first lesson in our groups went well. Despite becoming aware of limitations that meant our original concept would be difficult; we managed to explore many other aspects to do with fear. We began by 'playing' and invented our own devising game using a circus style. We then continued to play around with the objects as well as writing up all of our groups fears, whether they were irrational or serious. This then gave us the idea to each tell a story of a time in our lives when we were most scared. From doing this we discovered that while we each told our story, the rest of the group found it easy to feel how that person felt in their story. This has now given us the idea to adopt a storytelling style and to possibly take one story, or aspects of a few stories and tell it to the audience, in hope of making them feel the same kind of fear that the person who experienced it had.

Posted by Emma Bilton

4) Blog (21/11/07)
We just had another meeting and it was quite productive. We still centred our ideas around a circus theme but decided, after telling our own fear stories on Monday, to bring in aspects of life game into our piece. So In a circus ring one member of the cast tells the story while the circus acts out the tale. So far so good.

Posted by Fiona Allison

5) Blog
This week's lesson and meeting, all and all was successful. The class began slow, we were stuck as all out previous ideas were thrown out the window due to the restrictions due to light in the boiler house. After a while of deliberating and brainstorming, we thought of the idea of momentarily blindfolding the audiences, creating darkness. However, as Nesreen interjected and reminded us that having that close contact with the audience is not very 'Improbable' we realised that blindfolding would be taking it too far, and Nesreen really helped us and prevented us from wandering off in the wrong direction. I think our group really came together when we began to voice out our personal fears to one another. It was amazing seeing everyone being so honest and at their purest most vulnerable state. Many others stories really touched me, and i found myself being scared for them!
-We decided that this feeling and honesty was something we wanted to use in our final performance as it seems very effective.

Posted by Ailee Kemeny

6) Blog
First 'proper' rehearsal on our final project!
I found it exciting and really good fun. As we have the idea of performing some sort of nightmares, we started off picking some scary moments out of the lot we've collected before. We then where trying to improvise on these ideas, using newspapers and various props. For the first hour or so we thought it might be good having a concrete starting point. However, after a while we found out that we were over-discussing things and not really getting anywhere. At least not in the Improbable way of devising and having it always kind of unfinished. Hence, we had a total 'flipping out' moment where all of us were just a wee bit over the top and not really productive... The surprising thing was that out of this pretty low moment we suddenly developed quite good concepts and created a first version of a) Emily giving birth to a bug and b) Louisa freaking out about facing an over sized bug. Astonishing, how things can emerge at points where you think everything is! I hope we can built on that when we meet again tomorrow.

Posted by Mirjam Frank

7) Blocking and Allowing Creativity
This week in our group rehearsal, the concept which struck me the most was Improbable's idea of devising through play and exploration. At first, our group began devising the first scan and found it difficult to have inspiration. However, we then decided to use Improbable's idea and spent ten minutes playing around with newspaper and our original idea of nightmare. From this we soon created two scenes which, although very rough, were effective and entertaining. This therefore proved that once we relax and remove the pressure of creativity, creativity is much easier to obtain. We have continued our rehearsals this manner and are very much enjoying them.

Posted by Fran Smith

8) Week 8 blog
I found Monday's lesson very productive as we were able to work well as an ensemble. At first it was difficult to get started as we were discussing the ideas too much, rather than focusing on the improvising and playing around with ideas. Therefore, after playing some games in order to warm-up and focus we decided to 'play' with newspaper and come up with two movement sequences that related to our fears. This worked really well as it was much better to let creative ideas flow rather than plan what we were going to do. Since Monday's lesson we met up on Thursday and discussed some more ideas that we had as well as played some games, which also gave us inspiration for our next rehearsal.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

9) Final Performance Rehearsals
This week has definitely been more productive for our group and we have now begun a more focused devising process. Our previous ideas of blindfolding the audience did not reflect the style of Improbable and created an all-too easy reaction. Instead we have now developed some interesting ways to convey our personal fears in the hope that the audience can relate to our own individual experiences. We began our session with a game of freeze tag. This managed to get all of us warmed up and it also helped us develop a relaxed and improvised narrative theme to our work. This then led on to us incorporating the style of the Improbable production 'Lifegame' into our work, which I really enjoyed. It seems that on the whole our work is now coming together and starting to become much more open, productive and creative which I am very pleased about.

Posted by Faith Brandon-Blatch

10) Blog
I believe this week's work has been very productive, actually having a chance to work like Improbable in a relaxed, playful way was very exciting but also scary at the same time. Our playfulness helped us to form a basis for two scenes which I was really impressed with, although they obviously need polishing somewhat. We also rehearsed on Thursday morning although this session was mainly play, and putting all one's trust in play is quite a daunting experience, it has helped us to ceate a very deep sense of ensemble within our group, and i'm thoroughly enjoying working with our group. I look forward to Monday and to all our future rehearsals to see how our piece begins to take shape.

Posted by Eleanor Rhodes

11) Blog
our first week of rehearsal brought some interesting ideas. we discussed the theme of fear and what it meant to each of us. We came up with the idea of taking one of every one's fears and working dramatising them. We found that a creative way to work was through play, as Improbable themselves do to begin the process. Simply playing around with two of the ensemble's fears and trying to show them with paper created some interesting and even intense ideas. We played around with the newspaper, looking at different ways it could be used to demonstrate the fear of bugs and the fear of pregnancy and although what we created was rough around the edges, some effective imagery began to appear.

Posted by Emily Cookson

12) Improbable Blog
I think that my group have now reached the stage where we are more familiar with each other. My group had initially come up with a lot of ideas about what we wanted to do in our performance. However many of these ideas were not practical. For instance it would not be possible to have a blackout in the boiler house. Some of our ideas contradicted with how ‘Improbable’ work. This meant that we were faced with the task of re-thinking and experimenting with games. There was some reluctance at first to use games as a means of creating drama but at our last rehearsal we successfully used games. We used the improvisation game. This involved creating a scene, although at any point someone could freeze the scene and replace one of the actors to create a new scene. The longer we played the game the more obscure yet amusing the scenes seemed to become. The game fits in well with how our performance seems to be developing. We have used ‘Life Game’ as one of our main influences. We have used acting alongside someone sharing an experience (in our case fears) in a similar way. This means that that the actors are constantly listening to the narration and have to be able to change what they are doing in response to what they are hearing.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow

13) Weekly Blog
Monday's lesson proved very productive for our group as it was the first time we had been able to use a proper rehearsal space to fuel ideas. At first we had difficulty in culminating performance tehniques as we were determined to work from an end product and manipulate our work into our pre-distinguished conclusion. However, this was a great learning curve for us as we realised this was not how Improbable undertake their work. We began playing games and relaxing more within what we were doing, losing the anxiousness of obtaining something interesting and useful. We then found it was much easier to divide into even smaller groups of about five, as these could be chopped and changed and was therefore still identifiable as ensemble work. We took our basic ideas and personal experiences of members of the group, for example fear of insects; death; giving birth etc. and were able to form a structure from what we created out of them. Perhaps our most intriguing scenes came from the unique use of newspaper (a classic Improbable technique) in the "giving birth scene;" and the "human bug scene" whereby we created our own sound effects, and saw the tiny fly grow and develop into a human sized mutant.

Posted by Laurence Brasted

14) Development for Final Piece
This previous week has been exciting and productive and has helped my understanding of improbabale through pratice using their style. I found that our group really benifited through 'playful' improvisations. The creative ideas seemed to flow more as we all became more relax and not worried about saying the first idea that propped into our head. Hopefully this playful style can become part of our final production and the energy and developing ideas can be continued through relevant games and exercises.

Posted by Olivia Pointing

15) Blog
Monday's lesson was really exciting as we had our first practical rehearsal as a group. This was useful as we were able to put all the ideas we had gathered from our discussions and thought showers previously into action. We started by playing a game which raised the focus and energy of the group. We began to work by marking a possible beginning to the piece, however, we felt that this became too static and repetative and wasnt really developing. So we then decided to go back to game playing. This lead us into playing with the fears we had discussed and playing with newspapers and props as toys. This brought a much more cheerful and positive mood back to the devising process and we found that we came up with more material and ideas in the 10 minutes of playing, than we had in the first half an hour of 'marking through' a choreographed routine. During our extra session this week when we met up we continued along these lines and played many games around our stimulous and theme of fear and hopefully this playful attitude will bring authenticity to our performance, much like Improbable who often use playing as a devising tool.

Posted by Helen Hudson

After spending time in the lesson on Monday I found that the games played by Improbable really do help when trying to devise. Instead of sitting down and forcing a scene or a piece we were able to play impro games which then developed into short scenes. This worked because there was not one individual in the group controlling the action and everyone was involved.

Posted by Louisa Hagan

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Student-led Discussion of the theme 'Fear'

Fear discussion
Facilitator: Ella. Note-taker: Emma. Time-keeper: Georg

What have we found out about fear?

Various people had two different definitions for fear, and we found that they were actually all relatively interchangeable.

· Chloe’s two categories were: 1. Social – watching something disturbing/upsetting/moral
2. Primal – fear for yourself and your Safety

· George’s categories were: 1. Rational, such as a fear of death
2. Irrational, such as Vaseline

· Emily’s categories were: 1. Psychological, such as phobias
2. Chemical, anxiety and adrenaline – fight or Flight

Gemma said that fears start in childhood, yet we pay to go and be scared as adults. We want to be scared – it is a morbid fascination, yet we are intrigued by out fears.

Should we be afraid during the performance?

· There is a difference between involving and relating experiences within a theatrical circumstance. It is important not to cross the line into getting too personal.

· Other related questions were brought up, such as do you run because you are scared or are you scared because you run? And there are also physical reactions to fear, such as hairs sticking on end.

· There are various different types of fear that have been experienced by us as a group over the weeks, such as fear of our ideas being rejected, trying to be original, and not accepting ideas, and people were keen to bring these experiences and feelings into the process. It was also pointed out yet again that Improbable are scared and are willing to be scared within their process.

· Chloe brought up the fact that occasionally this can go wrong – such as if you are being asked to think of the pain of a loved one. What we don't want is for the audience or any of us to be traumatised by the experience.

We decided that we didn't want the audience to be complacent, yet we didn't want them to just be shown something, we wanted to give them the actual mental notion of fear. The painting ‘The Nightmare’ (pictured below) was brought into the conversation as well as a possible stimulus for the piece. Artaud was mentioned – and the idea of purging the audience of all emotion – Catharsis, as another possible starting point.

Ailee was saying how actors by definition face more fear by they day than most people – going on stage and being in such a weakened state in front of people is very scary, yet we do it anyway. We are already incredibly brave, and so putting actors into a scary situation could be an extreme.
Posted by Emma Fielding

Respose to "An Introduction to Devised Theatre" in Devising Theatre by Alison Oddey

Devise - "to contrive, plan, or elaborate; invent from existing principles or ideas: to devise a method."

I found this introduction to 'Devising Theatre' to be very interesting. It changed the way in which i view devised pieces. Prior to reading the text, I associated devising with 'frustrating brainstorming', i always pictures a handful of actors and directors standing around feeding off each others imaginations in order to come up with an idea or concept. However, i have learnt that it can be different.
"Devised theatre is not always in contradistinction to 'straight' theatre" - this quote remains in my mind after having read the text, as this seems to sum up how i felt about 'devising', trying to be too diverse and 'alternative'. And although i do enjoy improvisational work, i found companies who strive to be TOO different, slightly pretentious and flamboyant. Nonetheless, after reading the text, i have come to realize that devised work CAN be scripted, it can be naturalistic and have direction, as well as involving elements of improvisation, spontaneity and impulsiveness, which makes it so refreshing. This has given me a much deserved respect for devising theatre companies, and the way in which they've been able to penetrate the slightly closed minded and judging world of theatre.

Posted by Ailee Kemeny

Tuesday, 13 November 2007


1) Week 7 Blog
Today's lesson took a new and interesting structure. Firstly, i really enjoyed the trust exercises that took place. The students did a great job teaching these exercises and i think it really did help us as an ensemble. It was then great to finally get to discuss our concept of fear in our groups and to see everyone else's ideas. I think that the theme of 'irrational fear' that is present in both groups means that the two pieces will gel well together for the final performance. My group is first meeting on Thursday of this week where we'll explore how to take everyday objects and try to create an image or perception of 'irrational fear'.

Posted by Emma Bilton

2) Fear is Positive
I very much enjoyed participating and teaching the trust exercise that had been taught in the Lee Simpson Improbable workshop. I was interested to see how people who didn't participate in the Improbable workshop found the exercise. Everyone had different reactions to the first part of the trust exercise. Many people found it exhilarating to be lead around the room with their eyes closed, however, many people found it difficult to trust the person leading them and had images of something happening to them, such as hitting the wall. However, as the exercise went on, soon people realised once they had knocked into someone and that was the worst thing that could happen, the exercise didn't seem so 'scary'!
I was very intrigued whilst teaching the second part of the exercise, how the participants would feel with people from the group watching them. As the space was large when I was involved in Lee's workshop, everyone was able to take part simultaneously. Once the exercise had been undertaken I was interested to know that some people found it off putting having others watching them, this made them aware of the space around them as well as feeling claustrophobic and embarrassed at being watched. I also noticed if someone made a sound, the person being lead would tense and worry that something was happening to them, or they would start laughing, nervously.
After undertaking the exercise we discussed the notion of fear associated with the exercise and how fear can be positive. At first the people with their eyes closed were very conscious of what they were doing and how they were moving, however as the exercise developed many people became fearless and began to enjoy the exercise.
I am very excited about starting our final piece, our group have some great ideas associated with the theme 'fear' and I feel that we will be able to produce a very interesting creative piece of work.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

3) Hand-Holding Game
I really enjoyed the hand holding game when we did it in the workshop with Lee Simpson - I felt that it broke down many of the communication barriers for me, and I relaxed into the methods of Improbable much more. I think that this was also the case in the class this week. Although in a very different situation to before - a smaller room, with lots of people, I still think that it is a game that can really break the ice in any class like this. A second attempt at the game also gave me more understanding of what it is for. I could relate the idea of spontaneity to this as well. As something that I have had problems with, it was interesting to realise that you could be spontaneous through leading a person around the room, and having to react to everything that happened there and then. If there were any mistakes made or accidents about to happen you just had to deal with them. I found that this was a very good way to understand Improbable in another way - it is refreshing and makes the often difficult themes much more fun!

Posted by Emma Fielding

4) Week 7 Blog
I found it very interesting this week to observe how our group reacted to the ‘Improbable’ trust exercises. Peoples’ experiences differed greatly from the original workshop group and it was very interesting to see how people can experience the same thing very differently and how one exercise can help people in various and unexpected ways.
People’s research on the theme of ‘Fear’ was also very varied and extremely useful. I enjoyed helping with the discussion and I believe the many different aspects of fear will be used well within each of our devised pieces, from the physiological to the psychological effects of a very powerful emotion.
Our first meeting was productive, although we haven’t quite started improvising yet, we have the basic structure of our piece nearly sorted. I look forward to working in a similar way to ’Improbable’ I believe it will be a very enlightening and liberating experience.

Posted by Ella Rhodes

5) Blog Week 7
Besides talking about our final year production we did some warm-ups which we learned at Lee Simpson's workshop. I found it really interesting to do those again. It's amazing how your body and mind remember things that were last done quite some time ago. I noticed that it was much easier for me to concentrate on my actual thoughts. The access I got to my own mind was a lot better. Practicing the trust-exercises again showed me, how useful they really are.
The other thing we did, was clarify the possible outcomes of the theme for our final production. Although we didn't quite establish a ready concept, it was very interesting to listen to the experiences others had concerning FEAR. Everybody had a spooky story. We discovered that most of them had a dreamlike (in terms of a nightmare), atmospherical and mysterious touch to them. So, I suppose that our group starts off trying to create a certain atmosphere… we'll see what will come out in a few weeks from now…

Posted by Mirjam Frank

6) Trust Exercises
In this week's lesson I really enjoyed the trust exercises. From being a participant in the Improbable Workshop with Lee Simpson I had already experienced the exercise. However, this time I found myself having different responses to being led around and leading my partner around. It was interesting to see how we reacted according to the smaller space. I found it really effective being an audience member as I was able to see the exercise from both perspectives at once. I enjoyed watching the varying reactions to being swapped and it was interesting to see how some people felt completely comfortable being led around while others were much more guarded. I think that dividing the class made it much easier to appreciate the exercise as we saw it from many perspectives and I found it also very entertaining as an audience member watching people try to swap and partners being forgotten and bumping into each other. I look forward to experimenting with such exercises within our devising groups as I really felt this particular game built trust and worked on the idea of using fear.

Posted by Fran Smith

7) Fear, Trust and Ensemble
As I missed out on the workshop with Lee Simpson, I was pleased to get a chance to try out the exercises that were practised. I especially liked that the individuals who took part in the workshop led the exercises. I found that the exercises were delivered through their own experiences of the game as they recalled how they had felt when they played the games. I felt very trusty towards my partner and I got the feeling that in general the whole group seemed to becoming together more, which is definitely building on our ensemble skills which is crucial for our final piece.
I am happy with the theme of 'fear' which has been set for our final pieces. I feel that it is an emotion with connotations of personal experience and wide-spread qualities which will allow us to all bring an individual notion to our pieces but at the same time to capture away in which we can convey this as an ensemble. Also when thinking about situations when one responds to fear, I realised that our reactions are always totally spontaneous as we act on impulse and therefore naturally. I just hope that we will be able to establish this kind of impact reaction and response in our pieces.

Posted by Faith Brandon-Blatch

8) Blog
I'm feeling fairly optimistic about our performance. With only 10 minutes per group, a good 3 weeks to create something, and a solid foundation that we can build on (after our meeting on Thursday), I think everything will be done in plenty of time. The only trouble will be keeping things fresh once we've created them, but by applying Improbable's principles we should be fine.

Posted by Emma Berge

9) Blog
Our first few meet ups over with and I'm actually quite happy about the process so far. I remember some devising i did a few years ago and the process of doing everything became more and more painful as time went on as we were, in essence, trying far too hard and sort of shot ourselves in the foot. It's difficult to keep our creativity and imaginations at a level without going too far so a piece becomes too unstructured or too surreal but i am happy with what our group has done so far! Hopefully it'll stay that way!

Posted by George Calderwood

10) Blog
In Monday's lesson it was enjoyable to begin working in our groups. It was interesting to discuss our stimulus 'fear' and see what was conjured up within the group. We at first discussed what scared us and see how some of us have well known fears such as spiders, heights, small spaces or the dark, however some of us had less common fears such as putting your left foot on the floor! We then went on to discuss nightmares and the nature of bad dreams, such as the weird things that happen, eg. people changing into other people or not being able to run away. We thought it would be good to try and recreate a nightmarish atmosphere in the piece so the audience could feel as if they were in a nightmare and use all our fears within the piece. We thought of the idea of storytelling as this links back to Improbable's work as they often tell stories or anecdotes within their piece's. A few of us shared stories of the most scary moments we can remember and we thought it would be good to use these in the piece as it links back to Improbable's 'Lifegame'. It will be interesting to begin devising when we have our rehearsals on Monday and see where these initial thoughts lead. Im excited!

Posted by Helen Hudson

11) Further Work As A Group In And Out Of Class
My group have progressed significantly in terms of theme and ideas over the past week. Firstly there was the lesson in which we discussed our responses to the theme of our piece ‘fear’. Concepts of rational and irrational fear arose. These lead to an idea of using objects to create shadows that looked frightening, but later revealing the objects and showing the audience the completely harmless reality. I believe that as soon as we begin to actually try out this idea we can further it and it will tie in well with the marking criteria ‘using objects effectively’. In class the group seemed to co-operate well as an ensemble. No one argued or pushed aside anyone’s ideas. The main problems that did occur were the different levels of familiarity with each other. Some people lived in the same halls as each other whereas others live off campus etc. There was a general feeling that the first meet up should be used for getting to know one another and allowing everyone an equal amount of speaking time.
We all met up on Thursday 15th November, at 10am. We had all agreed to bring an object to the discussion, which we thought could be used in helping create interesting shadows. The objects needed to appear harmless when revealed. So objects like knives or sharp objects would not be suitable. I brought along an umbrella and other objects included newspaper and jewellery hanger. We realised that in order to try out our ideas we really needed rehearsal time in the boilerhouse or at least in a decent sized room; our first meeting was in halls. Meeting in halls allowed us all to feel at ease and I think everyone spoke at least once. We also came up with more ideas. For instance there was a general unease with circus environments. We felt that if we created a circus environment we could really work as an ensemble. One person could take on the role as ringleader and perhaps narrate (which relates to Improbable) and there was a possibility of including puppets (again used by Improbable). Before our next rehearsal I intend to continue looking for interesting objects, as well as research the topic ‘circus’ and see what other ideas it leads to.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow

12) The Rehearsal Process
Starting to create a final piece has been very interesting. Each member of the group has their own ideas which are all very different which means that we can have a varied piece. The difficulty is that we must follow the style of Improbable which means remembering what their ideologies are at all times so that we don't get too carried away when devising. These ideologies include things such as Story telling, improvisation, the use of props eg newspaper ect.

Posted by Louisa Hagan

13) Blog Entry
All I can really say is that I am really excited to be devising with an ensemble again, it may be crude to say but making theatre is fun! I'm looking forward to seeing what both groups produce. I think it's also pretty incredible that with a good third of my group living off campus, we still managed to drag ourselves out of bed for early rehearsals, some of us waking up at six or seven!

Posted by Gemma Moran

14) Spirit
The first thing I must say is that “Spirit” is an incredibly touching and surprising piece of work. The unusual staging, though potentially limiting, was used to great affect by the performers, with the ensemble’s imagination extremely evident in the set's almost “cute” versatility. Its secret compartments and continuing transformations from acknowledged stage, bed, roof etc continued to delight my childish side throughout the production, and made the simple nature of the storytelling more than a little endearing. It fitted wonderfully with the group’s use of characterless yet not lifeless dolls, which again gave a strong sense of the childhood imagination being bought to the stage. It was interesting to see this method of storytelling used for such a serious topic as war, but I feel it worked rather well. If I’m not mistaken I could feel a slight Brechtian influence in this, with the audience being removed from the story itself but bought closer to its themes with its distinct breaks in character, and the use of three differing “environments”
For the first time in viewing an Improbable performance, I could feel a clear and distinct aim in the piece; I was going to learn about war through viewing certain portrayals and concepts of it. The character based “fairy tale” as it were was clearly used to engage an emphatic response, the sound scape “war games” an emotive one, with the actor’s arguments serving to represent the conflicts of everyday life which an audience member themselves may recognise, and therefore bring pleasure in mimesis and invoke a cognitive response.
This is all well and good, but what truly stood out what that this all occurred without once seeming contrived. I could see how the next night might change completely, with a new set of characters or even actors,where perhaps it is another person who feels spurred to cause an arguments, or perhaps where the little puppet men do make maybe just once, if the audience hoped long and hard enough. Despite watching on vhs, I felt as though I was included within the performance, I was constantly encouraged to think and would rather have liked to be there.

Posted by Gemma Moran


  • Did the devising process that started from the theme of 'fear' lead to an engaging theatrical representation?
  • Did the piece make effective use of objects in a way that served the narrative/story?
  • Did the group work successfully as an ensemble?

Friday, 9 November 2007


I have to be honest, on seeing the opening of Improbable's 'Spirit', where performers Guy Dartnell, Phelim McDermott, Lee Simpson appear through holes in a wooden raked platform I expected a completely rehearsed and admittedly pretentious piece of dialogue. However, thankfully, this was not the case. By breaking the moment with a completely unrehearsed, lighthearted and improvised conversation it gave the piece a refreshing feel that set the standard for the rest of the piece to be unpredictable and theatrically exciting. Progressing from this, the performers used the flexible structure of the piece to its advantage by being able to accept accidents and mistakes that happened during the performance. For example, when a sack, acting as a pillow, fell off the top of the racked platform Guy Dartnell accepted this moment, and instead of ignoring it and carrying on as you would expect in perhaps a naturalistic play, he went to pick it up and this provided a very comical moment in the piece. I also enjoyed the way they mixed a playful and childlike attitude to using puppets and props to present their concept of war and conflict. This raised many poignant images in the performance, and these images were special as they were fresh and not contrived through rehearsal, so the piece was much more open for the audience to take what they personally found in the production.

Posted by Helen Hudson

I just got back from watching spirit. Have very mixed views of the video. Loved the set and what they did with it. I especially enjoyed how tight their movements were in relation to it and some of the ideas they had around it were really creative. Only problem i did have with it was i thought some of the context and talking was verging on being pretentious. I find sometimes that when they talk it feels like they are talking down to the audience a lot, almost patronising in a way, i mainly feel this more from Phelim rather than the others. This could just be a personal thing though, i don't in any way think his work is bad i just maybe do not click on the same wave length as him. I did find quite funny though the way they used him as a puppet because when we did the devised peaces in our groups that was the original idea we came up with, people as puppets. cool that's about all i have to say really.

Posted by Fiona Allison

My initial thoughts of the play was that it had quite a slow start, but potential to have an interesting concept. I was particularly impressed by the wooden set and the imaginative ways in which they used this, however, i feel there were more possibilities that could have been explored with the trap doors. I was particularly impressed with the 'dream' scene and how they managed to use the set, sound and lighting quite harmoniously in order to create the effect of a dream. Something i hadn't seen from improbable before was an affective use of sound scaping; this was used very well in the aeroplane kit scene and the buildings coming out of the wooden set created an affective image from the audiences viewing angle. I didn't however like the intertwining of the 'war' between improbable and the actual 'war'. I feel these two ideas did not complement each other and that they should have gone with one concept or the other as both had more potential than what was performed. I found the human puppetry very effective and would like to do something similar in my own devised piece, this linked nicely into the one man show scene where one actor played both characters, however it seemed unclear as to why this had to happen. It was also refreshing that the actors acknowledged the audience and included reactions from the audience in their performance such as a phone going off and someone sneezing. This did add another dynamic to the performance, however the overall product certainly maintained the classical 'unpolished' attitude that improbable are known for. However, this time it did not have the same positive effect as it has done in previous productions.

Posted by Emma Bilton

This week I’d like to add a few comments about the video ‘Spirit’. The first thing that struck me about the performance was the acting space. I spent a long time trying to work out how the stage worked and I am still slightly unsure about how it worked. It seemed a very exposing space to work in. When the actors weren’t off stage or sliding through the grid holes they were directly in front of their audience. This made the interaction between the actors and the audience seem more pronounced than it has been in other Improbable shows. An example being when one of the performers says ‘bless you’ in response to an audience member sneezing. I was able to see links between the ways in which the actors allowed themselves to be exposed in a comic way to the workshop I participated in with Lee Simpson. The actors let themselves be spontaneous and even discuss it at the end, whereupon you find out that one of them dislikes the fact that he is usually spontaneous.
I would like to mention the use of the human puppet during the performance. One of the actors becomes limp for an extensive period of time. One of the other performers is able to use his limb frame like a puppet. I found this quite alarming to watch and think that it could be a useful tool to consider using in our final pieces on fear. During the performance I found myself enjoying certain moments. There were lots of details like the mobile phone sound (being described as magic), the way in which the pillows slid to their owners and when the actors had conversations that were unrelated to the actual story they were telling. For instance the discussion about the sneeze. I think the reason these moments worked so well for me was that they seemed so unexpected and surprised me.
I have heard so many war stories but none with instances of magic or a break where the storytellers argue about how good they are at telling the story.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow

On watching a production of Improbable “Spirit,” I feel it was an interesting account and exploration into the theme of war and conflict. The production included many typical elements of the company’s work, the most noticeable being the actors’ communication with the audience. This was unique from the very beginning of the piece as due to its traditional element of in completion, outside aspects were permitted to be adapted into the performance to increase the humour. For example, there was a golden moment where someone’s mobile went off and Lee Simpson said to his fellow actor, “Did you hear that? There was a funny sort of ‘bllbllb’ sound when you entered.” A prime example of the company’s technique of bouncing of, not only each other, but all elements of the theatre for inspiration in forming effective improvisation. This idea, in fact, cleverly covered the production’s first idea on the topic of conflict, that being an actor’s conflict with the audience.
As Improbable’s principles revolve around the idea of improvisation, their productions are very vulnerable to different obstacles and possible conflicts that come with a live audience. However, this particular incident with the mobile phone is a prime example of the company’s attitude that nothing is a mistake, it is merely incorporated into the show. Another example of conflict the performance covered was perhaps the most obvious choice, that being the case of war. The actors depicted a story of three bakers, who were brothers, and the effects it had when the youngest went off to war and was killed. The story then developed into a generalisation of war with the use of puppet soldiers fighting each other and aeroplanes bombing cities with the use of chilling deathly sounds of dramatic music, and loud humming which almost portrayed the planes as a swarm of bees. Interestingly however, once the young baker form the actors’ story had died, they developed this into another form of conflict: a physical one whereby the other actors manipulated Phelim McDermott’s “dead” body, reflecting on the strains and physical limits of theatre. This was, although very funny for the audience to see, also at times quite disturbing as it was very strange to see the technique the company usually apply to newspaper and inanimate objects, on a human. The final form of conflict though, which again really emphasised some of Improbable’s traditional methods, was brought about when McDermott came out of character and turned to Lee Simpson saying, “You’re rubbish. You know I don’t think I’ve seen you act once in the past seven years.” This triggered a full scale argument between the actors, which proved hilarious for the audience to watch and at the same time sticking to the ongoing theme. What also seemed quite striking was the way this argument seemed so realistic when in actual fact, like most other Improbable productions, it was an example of highly commendable improvisation.

Posted by Laurence Brasted

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Friday, 2 November 2007

Monday, 29 October 2007


1) Mood change e.g. excitement to melancholy, relating to the elements.

2) Death as a common theme/focus.

3) The performers and their personal lives coming through in performance.

4) Bringing new dimensions to inanimate objects, and not relying on traditional set and staging.

5) Accepting 'mistakes' and letting theme become part of the performance.

Posted by Chloe Gosling

1) They use ideas and themes concerning themselves – for example in 70Hill Lane, the story was based on Phelim McDermott.

2) They work as an ensemble; all of Improbable members are equal, there are no hierarchies.

3) They often create the set and decide on design elements before the performance has been fully created. They use set design as a stimulus for the narrative of their piece.

4) They welcome mistakes, as they believe mistakes produce creative decisions and ideas.

5) They use objects in order to tell the story; they believe that the object or puppet is as important as the actor.

Posted by Charlotte Harvey

There are many recurrent elements in the work of Improbable, however, I have decided to draw on the points that have had most impact on me through my studies on the theatre company.

1) Ensemble- working together, having awareness for one another, concentrating on the group as oppose to the individual. Seeing the bigger picture.

2) Spontaneity- Trying new things without pre-conceiving ideas. Not being afraid to jump off a cliff with the hope that the audience is there to catch them. Not worrying if what they are doing is right or wrong by learning from their mistakes. Taking the risk!

3) Creativity- working in an artistic environment with like minded people. Being open-minded to new ideas that can come from anywhere. Developing their work through the use of original materials.

4) Authenticity- (this leads on from the last) creating original pieces of work which are refreshing. Not 'thinking up' new ideas, but instead working through experimentation.

5) Incorporating the audience- producing a unique performance every time by reacting and adapting to the individual audience.

Posted by Faith Brandon-Blatch

1) The use of everyday items such as newspaper or sticky tape

2) Storytelling

3) Puppetry

4) Use of light and sound to help build up scenes where they, maybe, don't have the props to aid the storytelling

5) Responding to the audience and their reactions, leaving room for mistakes. e.g If someone's phone goes off in the audience they are able to incorporate it into their piece as they are not following a specific text (improvisation)

Posted by Louisa Hagan

1) improvisation

2) unconventional use of objects

3) newspaper into puppets

4) unfinished or left open for audience interpretation

5) creating piece around basis of set i.e. creating set first then devising show around what is in the set.

Posted by Emily Cookson

1) Ensemble- ensemble is clearly an important element in performance, but for improbable it is essential. Without the team work of being able to understand one another thoughts through a phase, gesture or movement would create a disjointed and random piece. If they did not 'accept' one another's 'offers' the story would soon end and become illogical, as we discovered through exercise in our classes.

2) Imagination/ using objects- Another element improbable entails is the imagination to use and create a object into something else which is not commonly associated with. For example turning paper into a living person and then turning it into a performance on stage, furthermore treating it as a equal to a human performer on stage.

3) 'Offering'- This element originates from Keith Johnstone's book 'Impro', meaning to give a gesture, movement and sentence that the other actor's on stage can respond and react to.

4) 'Accepting'--Once again, the idea develops from Keith Johnstone, and meaning to retaliate to a gesture, movement or sentence has been given previously.

5) Mistakes do not matter- this element means that unlike other forms of theatre where a mistake such as misinterpreting a fellow actor would be incorrect, Improbable believe it develops in to a new path of a narrative. They believe that a mistake is not wrong but a new creative element to their play.

Posted by Olivia Pointing

1) Improvisation

2) Ensemble

3) Every day items used to make something bigger e.g. newspaper puppets

4) Use of set

5) Open to change

Posted by Emma Berge

1) Ensemble-members: the main members of the ensemble are always the same. Therefore it is some sort of recurrency as they know each other and are then able to repeat (maybe intuitively) things that have been working quite well before.

2) 'Death' as a main-theme

3) Working with simple every day objects such as newspaper or sellotape

4) Naivety: this means that they always try to see the world from a childlike position; They are always open to explore and create new or unexpected things on stage, during rehearsals and during shows.

5) Puppetry: improbable is quite attached to puppets; They come in any shape and size and are used in order to support the 'real' actors, not just as a 'nice accessory'. Of course, one can see the every day objects which I've mentioned before also as puppetry. But here I mean puppets in term of creatures (human or animal like).

Posted by Mirjam Frank

1) Death

2) Being afraid sometimes is a good thing

3) Audience participation in the creation of the story

4) Not having pre-conceived ideas about what they are creating

5) Giving life to ordinary objects

Posted by Fiona Allison

1) The way in which they devise as a company in terms of their philosophy of 'spontaneity' and 'play'. This structure or non-structure is how nearly all of Improbable's performances are created, whether the final product is scripted or not.

2) The use of light is something I also feel Improbable use as an instrumental element in their performances, particularly in 70 Hill Lane, Sticky and Lifegame, even is it just symbolised an ending of a scene, this was very effective particularly in their improvised performances.

3) Puppetry seems to be another strong element in Improbable's work. In 70 Hill Lane they used both sellotape and newspaper to create puppets, and also used the element of light to create a more enhanced visual effect for the audience. This was also done on a larger scale for Sticky.

4) Improbable have also used the element of song in some of their productions, both scripted and unscripted! This requires very close work as an ensemble, which was shown very clearly in Lifegame, where they managed to sing songs together on the spot.

5) In terms of Improbable's philosophy on improvisation, it would seem that one of their other main elements would be the idea of accepting everything, and not thinking. This is considered to Improbable the only way to create a successful improvisation scene by where each actor is accepting the idea without trying to make the scene meet their own pre-conceived ideas. This is also a way to prevent yourself from trying to think of something funny or original rather than just 'doing'.

Posted by Emma Bilton

1) Storytelling- Many of Improbable's pieces encompass storytelling. Lifegame was fundamentally a new life story every night and 70 Hill Lane was a story about Phelim when he was younger. The start of any devised piece must come from our perceived ideas and these only come from our experiences in life; so the element of storytelling seems like one of the most prominent ones to me.

2) Truth - Linked with the first this is also part of what, to me, seems like a good formula for devising as it draws on our own lives to create something. I think this connection must exist in order to create a good piece as it creates a degree of passion and love for the work you are producing which i think is incredibly important and seeing as Improbable create some very original work i hope this applies to them.

3) Emotions - Again this links in with the previous two. Creating an interesting piece means that the truth must somewhere lie in the emotions portrayed and seeing as storytelling is also a big element, the mixture of these could insinuate that some of the emotions in Improbable's work could be seen as quite raw and thus relate to the group, then again they might not...

4) Death - I think this mainly because Improbable say this element keeps recurring in their pieces and i think i agree. I might be tempted to say 'the circle of life' or something less specific would be more accurate than simply 'death'. However, as i believe their pieces concentrate more on life as a whole where death just happens to be a very common end. Sticky is a good example of this whole idea of life; from my vague memory of the piece some sort of angel descends and all the strange bug and clock light show ensue where many 'eggs' are released followed by the exit of the 'angel' (This may be a slightly pretentious way to look at it but i think there is some truth in there).

5) Life - I say this for the reasons above in death but in reference the other way. Life is an important part of death, funnily enough, and it seems blatantly obvious to have them both in here!

Posted by George Calderwood

1) Working as an ensemble- all equal

2) Show deliberately made unfinished

3) Create design elements before the rehearsal/ devising process

4) They welcome mistakes- and often use them in their work

5) Fear should be present in each show- feeling scared helps you perform best

Posted by Fran Smith

1) Puppetry with different materials

2) The theme of Death

3) Changes of space - being experimental and not using the same space twice

4) Uses of different Media - theatre, outdoors, structures

5) Sellotape!

Posted by Emma Fielding

1) The theme of death: Improbable often deal with death in their work; it is a universal theme which obviously applies to us all. They use this theme in a tasteful and sometimes humorous way, which makes it an easier subject to cope with for the audience.

2) An enhanced feeling of ensemble: In improbable’s work, the audience can plainly see that their sense of ensemble is very deeply developed.
This is why they can improvise so easily on the spot, and the reason some people don’t believe they improvise live on-stage, which they actually do.

3) Use of everyday objects: Many people find it strange that Improbable use such common objects as Newspaper and Sellotape within their work.
However in Sticky and 70 Hill Lane Sellotape is used to great effect, they use the qualities which the tape already possesses to create objects and even sets.

4) Live Improvisation: Improbable are possibly best known for their use of improvisation live on-stage. They believe the scariness of doing this creates good, lively theatre. This technique also ensures a show is different every night, emphasising the liveness and changeability of theatre.

5) Abstract Notions: Most of Improbable’s shows have an unfinished feel about them. This is intentional, and allows the audience to ’fill the gaps’ with their own imagination, and arguably have a deeper and more formed experience than if they had seen a truly polished show. The audience have an active, rather than passive role within Improbable’s shows.

Posted by Eleanor Rhodes

Obviously this is quite difficult to pin down but so far I have gathered these to be the five main elements of Improbable's work:

1) Ensemble,
Each production I have seen so far clearly lacks either a lead character as some traditional productions, of has any lead writing/directorial of production credits. In productions such as "Sticky" the cast does not even "Act" but prefers to come together to create a work of spectacle.

2) Audience
In all the production's I have seen so far the audience has either a key part to play in "finishing" the production, or, as in Sticky the needs of the actor's involved to display their craft as "performers" is pushed aside for the desire to please and entertain with a display of pure spectacle which is designed I feel, to simply connect them with an Aesthetic engagement.

3) "Unfinished" works:
Each improbable production leaves from for either surprises (Lifegame) or simply development on stage, often Improbable's productions will never be alike and change greatly during a single run, or other many years as in "Shockhead Peter"

4) Play
Each production really seems to suggest that aside from everything else, the performers involved simply enjoy producing theatre. In Lifegame a real sense of playfulness was embodied through the portrayal of childhood events, and in Sticky I could almost imagine the gleefulness with which the actor's simply decided to play with sticky tape and fireworks and simply have some fun.

5) Objects
In key performances Objects are used to great effect and are often the starting point for improvisations, such as the trap door ramp in Spirit, and the amusing horns and table/interview set up of Lifegame.

Posted by Gemma Moran

1) spontaneity for authenticity

2) lack of structure and freedom in performance

3) acceptance of all offers, even accidents

4) taking everyday objects, eg selotape/newspapers, and giving them anew use and voice

5) Telling personal stories and anicdotes without having to resort to a naturalistic style, but constantly involving the audience and using props, puppets, lighting, sound to make the storytelling come to life.

Posted by Helen Hudson

1) The involvement of the audience- the audience always play an important part in the development of Improbable's work.

2) The use of improvisation.

3) Death seems to be a recurring theme in Improbable's work suggesting that the element of the 'shock factor' is recurrent, e.g. The Hanging Man.

4) Storytelling is a major recurring element in Improbable's work.

5) The use of props and objects/making props and objects- newspaper, selotape.

Posted by Hazel Darlington

1) Issues surrounding life and death.

2) Storytelling- throughout their performances they usually tell a story. Any story from fairytale to a real life story.

3) Narrative- within the storytelling they often use a narrator.

4) Music - Although the music that Improbable use during their performances may be chosen late on it nevertheless plays a role in creating mood.

5) Comedy- Comedy is used in many different ways. It is never forced and is often experienced alongside more serious issues such as death.

Posted by Sylvie Barlow