Improv Masterclass Programme ready to challenge Wellington's practitioners

Wgtn Playback Theatre

Wgtn Playback Theatre

To many in Wellington, the New Zealand Improv Festival (NZIF) is a celebration of improvised performance; to those within the industry, it is also an opportunity to develop skills and foster collaboration between national and international practitioners. With its most comprehensive workshop programme yet, NZIF is delighted to have almost 100 practitioners registered to participate in a week of improvisation masterclasses led by some of New Zealand & the world’s most experienced and talented improvisors and directors. 

Limited spaces are still available for the 24 workshops taking place at BATS Theatre, 2-8 October, and are open to anyone with at least an introductory level of improvisation and/or performance experience. Teachers for the 2016 programme come from as far flung as Sweden and Canada, and feature a number of local and national pros sharing their experience with festival attendees. 

In addition to masterclasses devoted purely to skill-building, six of NZIF’s workshops directly tie to performances taking place in the Spontaneous Showcase, 4-8 October at BATS. Seven seasoned directors will bring their work to life with six brand new casts gathered just days before, a showcase that will demonstrate not only these directors’ skills in performance and improvisation, but the festival as an intense hotbed of instant creation.

All the way from Gothenburg, Sweden, we kick things off with Peter Nordstrand's Nothing But The Truth; a workshop and performance inspired by the world of the courtroom. Peter is excited to be contributing to NZIF and for what it will contribute to his own work. 

"I get very inspired by watching shows that I would not have seen had it not been for the festival, says Peter. "Every time I learn something new, I see something new, and experience interesting ways of approaching the art of improvisation. Maybe, if I am very lucky, I get to inspire someone else as well."

“I get a renewed sense of the possibilities of improv [at events like NZIF]”, says teacher and director Cale Bain (Sydney).  “I'm always hopeful that there're more nooks and crannies to improv yet to be explored and new things I can find out about my colleagues and myself through improv.” Bain joins NZIF for the first time this year, and will lead a workshop and show titled Kiddie Time as part of our late show programme, a journey into the joy generated in children’s television programming re-channelled for grown ups. 

“I have a deep love of teaching and enjoy being able to bring the knowledge that has been taught to me to others,” says Katherine Weaver, artistic director of renowned company Impro Melbourne. Weaver collaborates with Wellington improvisor and director Wiremu Tuhiwai on their workshop and performance Death Comes To Us All, a show exploring the delicate balance between life and death and how death makes living that much sweeter. 

David Innes, former creative director of Melbourne’s Impro Box returns to teach; this time focused on experimentation and sharing his experience in devising new improv concepts. “This is a different, more 'sandbox' type workshop than I've run before. I'm hoping people come out with a format they can pitch to their respective companies.” David is an experienced improvisor, teacher and director of improv. He has performed in two NZIF shows - Time Lord in 2013 and Grain of Truth in 2015, both which he devised and created. 

In addition to our international line up, NZIF is delighted to offer workshops for the first time with Playback Theatre Wellington. Participants will be able to experience a locally grown company and improv style that until now has been absent from NZIF’s programme. 

“Improv and the formats that represent improv are diverse,” says Claire Hewitt from Wellington Playback Theatre, joining the festival as a teacher for the first time. “In our case rather than ask the audience for tasks to fit an improv structure, we invite story in personal context that we perform back to the audience with live music and theatre.” 

These teachers are joined by returning national teachers Brendon Bennetts, Matt Powell, Christine Brooks, Jennifer O'Sullivan, Lori Leigh, Tim Gordon and Deana Elvins; first time at NZIF teachers Clare Kerrison, Cordelia Black, Laura Irish, Jonathan Briden; and international guests Linda Calgaro (Sydney), Rik Brown (Melbourne), Jason Geary (Melbourne), Jaklene Vukasinovic (Melbourne), Lliam Amor (Melbourne), and travelling improvisors Lisa Amerongen and Stephanie Malek (Toronoto).

With at least three workshops to choose from each day, tutors from NZ, Australia, Canada and Sweden will fill at least three hours of your day with skills across the improv spectrum. Packages start from $50 per workshop and include tickets to up to 5 performances.

NZIF MASTERCLASS PROGRAMME - WELLINGTON

2-8 October, various starting times, 3-6 hours in length
All workshops at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Registration costs $50-$280
Visit nzif.info/2016 to register and see the full programme.