BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
30/10/2014 - 30/10/2014
Plus One is an austere show. Designed to improvise in a relaxed environment, just for the pleasure of doing so, without worries about the ticket office, time, competition, procedures or cumbersome preparations.
The full show is 99% improvised scenes – there are no games, there is no musician, there are no long explanations neither long presentations.
ImproVisa is a Mexican company dedicated to Improvisational theater (or “improv” as an affectionate name – and, boy! We are affectionate to it!) We believe there’s no better training than watch, learn and practice improv. That being said, our mission is to spread good improv around the globe, artisanal handmade improv, made consciously, made with the heart.
Plus One adds up to even more
Happy accidents lead to NZIF first!
For any other festival, finding out less than two weeks from showtime that half the cast of a programmed show can’t make it to New Zealand would be a nightmare. Instead, the New Zealand Improv Festival Director Jennifer O’Sullivan saw an opportunity to involve even more international guests in an already jam-packed programme.
Daniel Haddad (ImproVisa, Mexico) was lined up to perform with his company partner Piolo Juvera in Plus One, a stripped back two-man improv show as part of the showcase programme. Sadly, Piolo is no longer able to attend. Instead, Plus One will see Daniel joined by not one, but three international guests – Mike Brown from New York, Anna Renzenbrink from Melbourne, and Simone Tani from Italy by way of London.
‘It’s pretty exciting to get to apply the principles of improv to the creation of its programme. There are no mistakes in improv, only happy accidents, and it’s a delight to see what comes out of them,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘This is a great opportunity to watch improvisors at the top of their game play together for the first time – we have no idea what will happen when their different styles of play come together, and it’ll be a real treat for those who get to see it.’
A core principle of the New Zealand Improv Festival is to bring a diversity of improv styles to the Wellington stage; the guest players selected have a range of backgrounds including solo comedy (Brown), literary genre work (Renzenbrink), and mask and clowning (Tani) which Haddad is delighted to play along with.
‘One of the ideas from the show is that people who’ve played it can go on to play it themselves – so this triples the possibilities!’ says Haddad. As well as performing in Plus One, Haddad will teach a masterclass in ImproVisa’s improv style as part of the festival’s sold-out workshop programme, spreading their work even further.
“I am seriously so jazzed at the notion that I get to travel to New Zealand and not only teach two workshops during the New Zealand Improv Festival, but also take the stage Thursday night and perform with Mexico’s improv ambassador, Daniel Haddad,” says Brown, whose workshop ‘Solo Improv 101’ was the first to sell out in the NZIF’s workshop programme for practicing improvisors.
About the guests:
Daniel Haddad works and trains with ImproVisa, a Mexican company dedicated to Improvisational theatre. Their mission is to spread good improv around the globe, artisanal handmade improv, made consciously, made with the heart.
Mike Brown began his comedy career in 2005 as a Philadelphia Phillies “Phanstormer,” performing on-field sketches for the crowd. He founded The Mike Brown Solo Improv Extravaganza in New York City, and currently performs two-prov with “God’s Little Athiest”. He is teaching two workshops on solo improv during the festival.
Anna Renzenbrink has been quietly making a name for herself over the last 12 years and is well regarded by Australia’s ever expanding improv comedy community for her wit, unique point of view and expressive characters. As well as joining the Plus One performance, she brings NZIF 2014 the historical theatrical comedy In the Parlour with Jenny Lovell (6:30pm, Thurs 30 Oct). No stranger to the Wellington audience, Anna won the Stand Out Performer of the NZ Fringe Festival for her troupe’s improv show Spider Dance in 2013.
Simone Tani graduated from Ecole Philippe Gaulier in Paris where he studied Theatre, Clown and Bouffon. Earlier, Simone studied improvisation at the school Verba Volant in Rome, and with Keith Johnstone at Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary. Other study includes clown and physical comedy, trance and full masks, and commedia dell’arte. Simone is one of the founding members of the improvisation company i Bugiardini in Rome, and has performed and taught improvisation, trance masks and drama in Italy, UK, France, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Part of the New Zealand Improv Festival
28 October – 1 November at BATS (Out of Site)
3 show passes available! Contact the Box Office for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow the festival online…
BATS (Out of Site)
Thu 30 Oct 9:30pm
Group 6+ $13.00
Delightful and satisfying
Review by Lori Leigh 31st Oct 2014
Plus One is a series of improvised duo scenes based on a one word suggestion from the audience – all with international flair. The ‘One’ is Mexican improviser Daniel Haddad (ImproVisa, Mexico) and his ‘Pluses’ are Simone Tani (Italy), Anna Rezenbrink (Australia), and Mike Brown (United States).
The show is divided into three segments, each featuring Haddad joined by one of his international scene partners. No musicians and no complicated premises or concepts here. The show is simply two actors meeting on an empty stage and playing from a place of listening, trust, and skill.
As becomes evident throughout the night, Haddad is very adept at reincorporation, much to the audience’s delight and satisfaction. I personally love this type of improvisation and am very impressed by Haddad’s skill in the form (especially when one considers he is playing with strangers, as his company partner was unable to attend the NZIF last minute).
In the first Plus One, Haddad plays with Tani to, fittingly, the word ‘Mexico’. They explore everything from spicy food to geography mishaps. It is series of scenes with seamless transitions, made simply by body language and eye contact rather than lighting states or sweeps. The two players are sharing a group mind. Because of this, their connections and storytelling are relaxed and entertaining.
The highlight of Plus One for me, however, is when Haddad partners with Rezenbrink. The word is ‘buffoon’ but instead of some slapstick routine, the pair improvise one sustained scene of a couple preparing to attend an uncle’s funeral. It is light-hearted, nevertheless, as Haddad’s character plays a game where he attempts to dress improperly (clownish) only to be reined in by Rezenbrink. She finally admits his ‘little hat’ has always attracted her. It is an emotionally honest exploration of a relationship. Beautiful and brilliant theatre.
I want to recommend the show to others, but as always with the ImprovFest, each format show is a one-time only affair. I can only say if you run across the chance to see Haddad improvise, it’s not to be missed.
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