It is that time . of year again: Improv Theatre Sydney is presenting its fifth comedy festival from 27 Nov – 30 Nov! Co-curator Kate Coates has chatted to me about the line-up and what Sydney-siders can expect in the shows.
Joy – The line-up looks great – it must be a challenge with only 4 days to work with.
Kate -It absolutely is! We’ve themed the nights so we can get the most out of the festival. For example, Thursday night is full of excellent sketch comedy and stand-up (including headliner Matt Okine) and Friday has musical improv, which is my absolute favourite because I’m always stunned by talented folks making up super catchy songs on the spot from a single audience suggestion.
Joy - Can you give me a hint about special guests from overseas?
Kate -He wears a face-mask, is named after an animal and may or may not be speaking a real language… He’ll be hosting ITS Game, an improvised game show on Friday night.
Joy - How did you become involved with ITS – have you been there from the beginning?
Kate – Pretty much! I’ve known the people who started ITS (Cale Bain, Carlo Ritchie, Edan Lacey and Steen Raskopoulos) since I got into improv 7 years ago. They were my comedy idols. I was studying improv in Chicago when ITS was founded and when I got back, the company was only a few months old. They asked me to come on board and of course I said yes. Since then my role has expanded to ensemble performer, faculty member, company director, part-owner and this years ITS Comedy Festival co-director. It’s my life!
Joy - Do you ever perform?
Kate -I’m a regular performer with the company ensemble, in shows such as ITS The News (where we break down the news of the day and make it funny) and the ITS Soap Opera (think improvised Days of our Lives but more ridiculous) at Giant Dwarf. For this years festival, I’ll be performing in ITS Game as well as the Powerball, where we get audience members to put their names in a hat and whoever is drawn out gets to do scenes with the faculty. It’s a really great opportunity to play with folks with any level of experience and any background. Even my mum was chosen last year to do a scene!
Joy - What is next for you and ITS?
Kate - We’re currently in the process of renovating our new home on Botany Road in Redfern, which will be Sydney’s first and only dedicated improv theatre. We’re all very excited about the new space as it means more classes, more performance opportunities and a home for improv in NSW. I’m not exaggerating when I say people’s lives are changed by improv; we’ve had people meet and get married through improv classes and people who never expected to perform are now on house teams or in the ITS ensemble, performing at places like the Enmore Theatre. Our theatre will be officially open to the public early next year for all the good times and I can’t wait!