This week (Thu 9 - Sat 11 January), The Ministry of Unplanned Occurrences are bringing their latest improvised show, 'Are We There Yet?', to the Corpus Playroom. In this blog, Improviser James Stedman looks back at where the journey to this show all began.
Saturday October 5 2019. The previous Saturday, The Ministry of Unplanned Occurrences had finished the successful run of their latest show, The Apartment, at the Corpus Playroom. Now we were back in the rehearsal room. Time to play!
What’s in the Box?
As a team, our rehearsals often start with a very simple warm up called ‘What’s in the Box?’. Today was no exception. We have a minute to name the first thing that comes into our head as fast as we can - no thinking, no judgment, no censorship - to clear our minds of all the standard first thoughts that have lain there unsaid and clear the runway for new ideas. For some reason there are always artichokes in my box.
Following the Fun
Over the next three months, we would be devising our new show and this is how it started. Play, play, and more play. The session was very organic. We all brought ideas of games we would like to try - some new, some old, some completely invented on the spot; of themes we would like to explore; of exercises we would like to do. We followed the fun and saw where these suggestions took us. This session was like an enormous box for the next show, freeing up our minds to find out what excited us and what we wanted to work on. We didn’t even have a name for the show yet, but this is where it began, where the first pieces were discovered that would someday form the engine to propel the new show. I love this part. The creative release, this essence of improv, throwing ideas up in the air and seeing what flies.
Start Your Engines
After this session in October, the team were taken with the idea of journeys. Both geographical - the in-between states of travelling, the temporary relationships that form on the road, the new dynamics of people who know each other when confined in a moving vehicle. And more intangible – birth, marriage, moving house, graduation, changing jobs, falling in love. And we agreed these were the themes we wanted to delve into for our new show, Are We There Yet? Whilst we never know what will happen on the night – everything is improvised, bespoke, and moment-specific to each show - these would inform some of the things we knew were there to play with.
Are We There Yet?
In the coming months, whiteboards would be covered with mind maps, techniques would be honed, set ideas conceived and implemented, potential music chosen, the nature of audience interaction agreed, an idea of tone put forward, and eventually three brand new improvised shows performed. And it all started here. In a small room just off Mill Road. With four performers joyfully playing together on a dreary October morning. Let the journey begin!
Are We There Yet? runs at the Corpus Playroom from Thursday 9 to Saturday 11 January. Tickets are available here!