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Introducing Improv: Oxford Imps tell us about their shows and auditions

Oxford Imps are a regular fixture on the city's theatre scene - and this autumn sees them return to the stage after a Covid-enforced break. If you've ever been curious about trying improv yourself, their annual auditions take place in October. We had a chat with director Josie to find out more.

So, it's been a very weird 18 months for everyone involved in live shows! How has it been for Oxford Imps?

It has certainly been unusual, but pushed our creativity! We dived into the realm of "zoomprov", doing our weekly live improv shows over Twitch, and we even started a podcast. But we are really excited to get back onto the stage, at our new home the Jericho Tavern.

Zoomprov

Now, I've been lucky enough to try and bit of improv, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun! How would you describe it, for the benefit of the uninitiated?

Improv is an opportunity to be creative and spontaneous. Every scene is created from new, based on an audience suggestion. It teaches you how to follow your imagination, and approach things with enthusiasm - the improv motto is "Yes, and"!

It is also one of the most supportive forms of performance you can get involved in, as 99% of the time you share the stage with another performer. While performing without a script may sound intimidating, improvisers work together to make their scene partner look good - so you always feel safe and supported on stage.

It is of course also a LOT of fun. "Rehearsals" and shows are the highlights of our week. We are lucky to have so much laughter in our lives!

What have you got coming up this autumn?

We are excited for the return of our weekly shows. We perform a mix of short games and long form scenes all the way to completely improvised musicals and never seen before Shakespeare plays! Shows are every Monday from 11 October to 29 November, 8pm at the Jericho Tavern, Walton Street. We also have our annual auditions on 12 and 14 October. Due to the pandemic, we weren't able to have auditions last year - so we are even more excited than usual to find new Imps!

Oxford Imps

Tell us more about the auditions - what do people need to know?

First of all, we are a mixture of Oxford locals, and students too. We are really lucky to have such a great variety of Imps, and heartily encourage anyone in Oxford to audition! Secondly, there's nothing you need to prepare and no experience is necessary. The auditions are held in a low-pressure workshop style, so that everyone is warmed up and feeling at their best. If you're curious about improv, auditions are a good place to try it out. We also provide our new members with a lot of training, so if you get in, don't worry about being put onto the stage without feeling ready. Lastly, we only audition once a year - if you're thinking about it, go for it!

Audition Dates: 12 and 14 October (callbacks are 15 October)

Times: 6:30-8pm, 8:30-10pm

Location: The Story Museum, Oxford

Please turn up to one slot only, about 10 minutes early to register! We post regular updates on our website and social media.

And finally, for anyone who is curious and wants to try out a bit of improv with their mates first, could you suggest a little game they could play?

Before you and a friend start a scene, pick something (secretly!) that you want the other character to do. Maybe you want your partner’s character to give you a gift, or tell you that you look nice today, or even start a business together. When you feel like your scene is over, see if you can both guess what the other person’s objective is! This is a nice shortcut into giving a character motivation, and it can be really fun to try.


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