Last week I got a chance to try something I’d been hungry to do since Chicago. Only, you know that thing where you get a taste, but end up only wanting even more? Yeah…
I met Julia Poehlmann a year ago at the Wurzburg Impro festival, and spent an intensive week this spring playing mask impro with her in Denmark, but Chicago was a chance to really get to know each other and see how we played. And I love how she plays. We promised each other that on our return we’d explore doing some close-up, slow, impro together, ‘Alex und Julia’.
Last week Julia visited London and we got to do exactly that. The forum was the Hoopla-run Crash Pad experimental impro platform, a lovely night boasting short sets by a variety of groups. As a bonus, we had another Chicagoan with us, Brandon Rafalson, visiting over from the US. The three of us weaved a piece beginning with a large location painted from nothing; in this case it turned out to be the headquarters for a contraption manufacturer. From there we simply saw scenes of the people connected with that building.
We hadn’t played together for a couple of months, and hadn’t played the format at all together. But I could tell that we all trusted each other and were willing to give each other time. As an example, I opened the second scene slowly, examining documents and muttering to myself. Twenty seconds in, I realised that the others were happy to give me the stage to myself, extending my object work and segueing into a character monologue. Such a generous thing to offer a performer! And so trusting that I would be happy to be out there and could handle that.
Brandon’s affable, confused security guard was so winning and the gentle comedic core of the piece. Julia’s wistful teenager was honest and moved the audience. We stumbled onto an ending. All in 15 minutes!
I have plans to play more with Brandon that I’ll write about soon. As for Alex und Julia, it’s next outing will take place in Tubingen, Germany at the end of the month. I’m still excited.