Bronwyn Davies Glover from Old Peculiar interviews Matt Baram of
What inspires you as a performer?
Working with people that surprise me.
What kind of reactions do you want to evoke from your audience with your Summerworks piece?
I want people to leave the theatre thinking that what they saw was a fully rehearsed piece of theatre. I want them to forget that what they’re watching is being improvised. I want the audience to laugh but I want the laughs to be the deep feeling laughs that come from
grounded performances and truthful connections to the moment.
How do you feel that improv differs from scripted theatrical work?
With an improvised play, we have to be actors, directors, designers
and playwrights all at the same time. Some long forms use a director
that sits on the side and controls the narrative. We don’t use that
convention. We are the directors. We have to trust that we all know
where the play is going at all times. The choices we make in the
moment have never been tried and tested in a rehearsal process so we
have to challenge ourselves to commit fully to our choices as we’re
thinking of them. When it works well, we are just reacting truthfully
to one another. When we get into our heads and start “writing” too
much we know that we’re in trouble.
What does a “rehearsal” look like for you and your company? What happens?
When we decide on the playwright who’s style will inspire our
improvised play, we get together and read a play or two by that
playwright. This process usually involves wine or something stronger.
We discuss the play throughout and talk about how we can do that
playwright justice. We gather set pieces that we beg, borrow or
steal… it’s usually something we bring from home or find on the
street. One of us buy a record that suits the style of playwright. We
operate our own sound from our record player that sits down stage
right. Mainly our process is discussion. We never get up and try
anything until we are on stage in front of the audience. Most of the
work is in the reading and discussion.
Do you find one another funny when you are working? Does this ever break concentration or create outrageous scenes?
One of our biggest challenges is to curb the amount of breaking we do
when we perform. The problem is that we’re so excited by each others
choices that are happening in the moment that we can’t help but lose
it from time to time. It’s best when we don’t though.
WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST ABOUT BEING PART OF SUMMERWORKS IN 2009?
For me the most exciting part of being a part of Summerworks is the
fact that Summerworks wants us to be a part of it. We have been
striving to build a bridge between Improvisation and “Theatre” ever
since we started this so it is an absolute perfect fit for us. So
WHAT DO YOU FEEL THE FESTIVAL BRINGS TO THE CITY IN AUGUST THAT DIFFERS FROM OTHER SUMMER FESTIVALS?
Not sure how to answer this one. I think I’ll reserve my judgement on
this one since it’s my first time at the festival.
WHEN DID YOU AND YOUR IMPROV GROUP BEGIN WORKING TOGETHER?
In september of 08, we were approached by Steven Fisher, a local
writer whom you may know, and he told us that the newly opened Comedy
Bar at 945 Ossington was looking for shows to fill their schedules.
Steve said that I should put a show together. So I met with Naomi and
Ronald and talked over some ideas over drinks at the Jersey Giant one
night in September. We decided that we wanted to create a show that
stretched improvisation into an art form that included our love for
the theatre. We came up with the idea of improvising plays which has
been done before. At some point, Ronald brought up the idea of using
Woody Allen’s work as a point of inspiration for our opening night in
October. It went surprisingly well and from then on we adopted the
notion of using a famous playwright as a source of inspiration every
time we do a play.