Lee Simpson on improvisation, story telling and what improv tells us about being human.

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Lee Simpson is a founder member of Improbable (theatre makers and improvisers), a long time Comedy Store Player (since the 1980s) and one of Paul Merton's Impro Chums. He’s also been a croupier, cinema projectionist and breakfast show DJ. He’s written plays, appeared in sit-coms and in some films, been on some Radio 4 panel shows and once did a very poor poodle act at the London Palladium. That vast range highlights two strong threads one in the world of improv and another in the world of theatre making. Transcript available here and video version available here.

-I speak to Lee on his roots in theatre and improv and the importance of Keith Johnstone’s work.

-Lee outlines his thoughts on on his drama school experience, two schools of improv (US and UK) andhow improv and theatre misunderstand one another.

-We discuss the infrastructure (or lack of) behind improv and theatre and techniques on listening to the audience and feedback loops in performing.

-We sketch out ideas on structure and story form, on being human and Lee explains status structure as a technique.

-We chat about how humans understand the world and how we view our lives as story that changes through time.

-Lee reflects on being part of a comedy group for a long time and shares a stroy on Mo Mowlam.

-We talk on how to “build back better” in the arts and what Open Space is and techniques for listening and genuine connections to art.

-We end with advice Lee has for young people.

Contents:

  • 01:17 Lee on his roots in theat re and improv and Keith Johnstone.
  • 04:07 Lee on his drama school experience and two schools of improv
  • 09:43 How improv and theatre misunderstand one another.
  • 13:32 Lee on the infrastructure (or lack of) behind improv and theatre. On listening to the audience and feedback loops in performing.
  • 21:27 Lee on current UK Improv organisations
  • 26:56 Money no issue… what the work of Improbable would do
  • 29:01 Ben on language of improv and comedy, repetition and twist
  • 32:29 Lee on structure and story form, on being human. Explains status structure.
  • 36:44 Lee on how humans understand the world. Viewing our lives as story that changes through time.
  • 42:47 On being part of a comedy group for a long time.
  • 43:00 On Mo Mowlam being involved with the comedy store players
  • 47:37 Mo Mowlam’s final months and concerns on anti-democracy
  • 53:33 Lee on “Build Back Better”
  • 57:46 Lee on Open Space, techniques for listening and genuine connections to art
  • 1:05:07 Improv teaching you to listen to yourself
  • 1:07:46 More on OpenSpace
  • 1:15:34 Advice for young people, Ben channeling phantom Lee
  • 1:17:15 Lee’s advice: step outside your path a little.

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