improvised theatre

November 12, 2003

We are done

Life goes on after Out Of Your Mind - altogether too quickly, which is why I'm only just writing this now. I had hoped to put up some of the great photos we took (mostly the ones Mary took) during the tour, or perhaps get some video footage sorted out. I still hope to. We all know how much in vain that hope actually is.

Quite apart from the wisdom received from our stories (platypuses are responsible for preventing armageddon: they will forget; pandas sometimes live in wheely bins; Keanu Reeves is sexier if you're wearing pearls), I've learned a lot from this year - for instance, it is possible to play a double glockenspiel concerto one-handed (although you do need a pretty good keyboard to do it on). Many people refuse to believe something's improvised, apparently preferring the idea that we wrote and rehearsed forty plus different stories in advance. You can deliver a lecture where you use small children to simulate thought processes - and it's indistinguishable from peer-reviewed scientific research. All useful knowledge.

My lasting impression of the Edinburgh run will be, I suspect, the image of a man in a lab coat, on a ladder, gazing down the Royal Mile, waiting for the next shift to arrive. I was the next shift; but now, we don't need one.

Forty four shows, six venues, four counties, far too many stories involving deus ex machina animals: this was our summer.

Now, it's winter. James and I are teaching improvisation workshops in Cambridge, and having mean thoughts about people we don't like. You'll be able to read some of them in our new diary, Uncertainty ... And So On. This one is over.

Posted by James Aylett at 1:22 PM on November 12, 2003 (read with comments)

October 27, 2003


I'd like to say that I've learnt from my mistake, and could repeat them all perfectly (ho ho) but this is improv so we never do anything twice.

To be honest, I didn't think I could posibly dredge 45 shows from the very depths of the inner workings of the centre of my imaginative brain/mind. But nevertheless, with more than just a mite of help from my name-sake, the one who shares my birthday and the other one, did it.


And it was actually very hard work indeed. But when we were on top form, it felt like some sort of sublime clockwork to be in.

Here is my lesson learnt though: There's an awful lot of drama about vicars, talking animals, and detectives.

Nuff said.

Love and kisses

Dr Andrew

Posted by Andrew Ormerod at 8:07 PM on October 27, 2003 (read with comments)

Turning James Aylett into a dog

Alas, it is over. Out Of Your Mind is now but another show of the past, to be fondly remembered and eagerly talked about by those who saw it, but never experienced by those who didn't. Like Gielgud's Hamlet, Anthony Sher's Richard III and David Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour, all that exists to testify to its brilliance are a few photographs, some memories, and rather a lot of words. Like these ones.

Since the whole thing purported to be an investigation into the workings of the mind, it is gratifying that I did actually discover something about my own mind during the final week of performances. I experienced a distinctly pavlovian association which caused a lot of problems for James Aylett.

Pavlov, if you didn't already know, experimented with dogs. My own response was also very much of canine orientation. Myself and Aylett (felt by many to be a Coren and Toksvig for the under 30s) were engaged in a perfectly simple scene involving firemen. Camp firemen. Two of them. So far, so brilliant.

Then James' camp fireman made the perfectly reasonable observation that some people had been trapped down a mineshaft. So they had - that was the story. James can not be blamed for making the observation.

But the pavlovian nodule in my brain was thinking along these lines: "Trapped down a mineshaft? That's a cliche from Lassie, the dog who was forever rescuing people who were trapped down a mineshaft."

And my mouth was, as a result, replying to James with the words "Trapped down a mineshaft? Good dog!"

So James' camp fireman was instantly turned into a bizarre upright-standing, fire-engine-driving, talking dog, able only to demonstrate his dogginess by panting occasionally. A challenge which James rose to admirably, but which he really shouldn't have had to but for the workings of my brain.

A useful lesson indeed.

Posted by James Lark at 3:49 PM on October 27, 2003 (read with comments)

October 23, 2003

Other Cambridgey shows

Er - right, here's a very quick entry (I'm a busy bee, you know) about the rest of the PLAYROOM RUN (MARK II):

-Wednesday: Minah Birds and The Mystic Missus

-Thursday: Music of the Spheres, Stranded Miners and Fractal-the-wonder-dog!

-Friday: Queen V is Queen Bee (defeats weevil treason plot)

-Saturday: Pre-history splits personality, box-hitters implicated, trail of blood!

Posted by Andrew Ormerod at 5:25 PM on October 23, 2003 (read with comments)

October 15, 2003

Asha's Mind

Yesterday's show demonstrated the way in which Out of Your Mind has developed from its early, edgy dramatic style.

In short: biscuit riots break out in the M25 community, causing problems for the ministry of boredom.

In the world which the Uncertainty Division created, scientists siphoned boredom from the pelvic regions of a man in a box, "roadkill" was the name given to people attacked while lecturing on biscuit produce in the middle of the M25, and football hooligans walked around arm in arm and chatted pleasantly about violence.

Even Enid Blyton couldn't have come up with this stuff.

Posted by James Lark at 9:39 AM on October 15, 2003 (read with comments)

October 14, 2003


The streets of Cambridge are agog with rumour. The old women whisper to each other as they bustle through market square, the men tip their heads knowingly as they pass each other on their way to offices in Histon, and the young children dare to ask their mothers with muted excitement, “is it true?” The same words echo in murmurs through every alley and every hovel: “Is it true? Are the Uncertainty Division really coming home?”

And indeed, after a long period of travel, having faced untold perils, stood on towering stepladders, been insulted by Paul Daniels and applauded by the Guardian, finally the Uncertainty Division are back in Cambridge. Some of us have less hair than when we started, some of us have more hair of a facial nature. What is evident is that, bearded or not, we have all changed. We have been on a journey similar to that which would have been undertaken by a Samurai warrior, in which our very identities have been challenged and life itself has been a fleeting dream.

I should point out that our journey recently took us to Oundle, where we performed to large audiences at the lovely Stahl Theatre. Two shows were performed, one involving a malevolent cloud and the other concerning the Turner prize.

What exciting conclusion to our journey we will find in Cambridge I do not know (one of the whispered rumourings is that it will involve humus and tuna). But what fun we shall have.

Posted by James Lark at 1:01 PM on October 14, 2003 (read with comments)

September 19, 2003

C'est Londres

Goodness - nobody has written anything yet about last week's shows in London! Heavens above! So here are some words...

The London run of OOYM was sponsored by the letter S...

- Shoe shop, Sex shop & Shipping Show (Tuesday)

- Split-personality Caesar Show (Wedneseday)

- Sharks & Stuff-on-the-telly Show (Thursday)

- S.P.E.T.E.R.T* & Surrey Pushers Show (Friday)

- Scottish Smyrna** Show

*A pet cemetery and mortuary
**A community united against witches and cars

P.S. Last night was our first show in Oundle. It was about a Malevolent Cloud. More to follow.

Posted by Andrew Ormerod at 2:48 PM on September 19, 2003 (read with comments)

September 15, 2003

Alas, rejected AGAIN...

31 July 2003

Dear James,

Thank you for your letter to Alan Rickman, I am sorry for the delay in replying.

As you can imagine Mr Rickman receives many letters asking for his patronage. He is very flattered that you should ask him but he said is sounds like he is already too involved! Good luck with David Blunkett and I wish you every success in Edinburgh.

With kind regards

Yours sincerely

Melanie Parker
For and on behalf of Alan Rickman

Posted by James Lark at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2003 (read with comments)