Today I’m spending a bit of time reviewing the recording of my interview with Phelim McDermott, one of the founders of the improvisational theatre company Improbable.
I was introduced to Phelim by Neil Mullarkey, one of my earlier interviewees. I like the chain reaction nature of discovering people to talk to. Early on in the interview Phelim recommended a book from Keith Johnstone titled Impro, something of a bible in the world of improvisation.
The early part of the book explores the author’s life story, and it’s particularly fascinating that in his early life Johnstone worked as a teacher at a school in Battersea in South London. The kids he worked with weren’t academic, but were brought out of their shells with techniques and approaches that Johnstone appeared to make up on the spot. Those techniques, in turn, were able to help inform his approach to improvisational theatre.
The irony of this in comparison to today’s post-Govian world of extreme syllabus and testing – the idea of improvisation within a classroom seems outrageous, let alone to be so improvisational that it could be seen as something that could be applied elsewhere.
Which in the chain-reaction nature of this journey leads me to think the next person I should speak to should be my old friend and school teacher Nick, with whom I had a bit of a natter a few months back…