The truth is that improv is inherently nerve-wracking and there’s almost no way to avoid it. No matter how many times you get up on stage to perform with absolutely nothing prepared, it always just feels that little bit crazy. You say to yourself ‘Why on earth do I keep doing this?’ but you look around at the other members of your troupe and feel some level of comfort that they’re all just as mad as you! What I mean to say is that the troupe and their interaction with each other is the most important aspect of what Durham Improvised Musical do. In order for us to go up on stage and start a scene, we need to know that the other person will have our back no matter what, and that if we completely mess it up, someone we trust is always in the wings ready to jump in and rescue us. Without this security and confidence in each other, we wouldn’t get very far at all.
This level of trust doesn’t necessarily come from rehearsing every week, in fact DIM don’t find that rehearsals are even terribly useful. When attempting to improvise without an audience to play off, it just doesn’t flow as well and it’s significantly harder to get the required energy to pull off a good performance. What does help, however, is performing at Durham Society and College balls. If you haven’t seen us before, we perform as singing waiters, asking for gossip from tables and improvising songs based of what we are told. This is so great because it gives us the chance to get through 10 or 15 individual performances with different suggestions every time. We can truly flex our improv muscles without needing to commit to a full hour-long show, allowing us to experiment with rhymes more freely and very much reducing the fear of getting things wrong. This is all very useful but, even more importantly, it’s a lot of fun! We come out of these performances with a real buzz, trusting each other more, eager to improvise again and ready to present a full improvised show.
The idea of a DIM show is super simple, we get audience suggestions for the location of a musical, the title of a musical and the title of a song that has to appear at some point. We try to get themed suggestions based on the time of year with previous Christmas titles including ‘The Christmas Hippopotamus’ and ‘A Christmas Carol Vorderman’. The way we try to view these is as a loose guide for our plot, the location indicating the start of our story, the title giving us an idea of where we need to end up and the song providing us a story beat that we need to hit at some point in-between. Aside from that, we really are just making everything up. Nothing is pre-planned and anything is on the table. If you have a weird and wacky idea for a Christmas themed musical, come along and suggest it! We think it’s the perfect way to finish up the term before the Christmas break and very much look forward to seeing you there!
DIM does a Double Bill: The Danny Booth Show is on Thursday 13th December, at 7:30pm in the Music Department Concert Rooms.
DIM does a Double Bill: DIM Dong Merrily on High is on Friday 14th December, at 7:30pm in the Music Department Concert Rooms.