After the festival is over . . .

Last week was a wonderful hectic roller-coaster of improv theatre. The New Zealand Improv Festival, 2015 edition.  It was sometimes stirring, startling, heart-string tugging, occasionally awkward, occasionally camera-shaking hilarious, but most of the time just a really really good time.  If you weren’t there, you missed out forever, since all the unscripted theatre happened just for those us who were there.  Of course.  There were performers from a bunch of countries, workshops run by amazing teachers, a bunch of socialising for the social people.   I was one of the volunteer photographers, snapping my way through 10 or so shows over five days.  I’m coincidentally part way through a photography diploma, and required to photograph a wedding “or the equivalent”  Combing my study with my hobby seemed the perfect plan.  And I did photograph a wedding.  An improv wedding, with a groom sourced from the audience and a just slightly drunken minister.  A wedding, a bunch of train journeys, a podcast, a prison with 50,000 prisoners, a cruise liner and many quite twisted tales.

For the assignment, I had to choose just 10 photos to tell the story of the festival.  They needed to be a mix of candid and formal images, all orientated the same way and cropped to the same dimensions, and either all colour or all black and white.   These were the 10 I chose, with the theme of “moments of connection”, but the choice, it was not easy!

I took around 2,000 photographs using two cameras, which at only 200 per show is quite restrained really.  Most were taken with a Sony 7ii and a Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 lens.  This combination which was lovely and let me take photos in light I would normally be struggling with, but with the downside of a slow and finicky focus, very shallow depth of field, and being tricky to nail just right with moving targets.  Someone near the front of the stage tilting their head a few inches and something that looks good in the viewfinder, is not so sharp full size.  Also,  using a 50mm lens and sitting in the front row meant that I could only catch part of the stage in a scene.  So, I also had my tiny and lovely RX100 iv, set to auto focus and very wide, ready for when action took off on the stage, or I wanted a wider view.

Flies, as used for flyering

Among the masks made for scifi improv show Return to the Planet, a trio of bug-eyed bugs, denizens of Planet Beelzebub.  Dressed up in one of these (with a fetching green velvet medieval gown to complete the ensemble), handing out flyers for the show was surprisingly easy.  A buzz even (ow, don’t hit me).   I was amused as always by the people who pretended not to see me – it takes real determination to ignore a giant fly walking through the central city on a weekday lunchtime.

The mask is made of Instamporph, over a clay sculpt, the eyes are plastic hi-bounce balls, cut in half and lined with kitchen-drawer liner foil.  The paint is acrylic, with texture from those micobeads sold for scrap booking, under a couple of layers of clear acrylic sealer.  Antenna made of instamorph over wire – although I had to go back and thicken them up, as my initial efforts proved a little fragile.

 

Ridiculously festive week

Improv, impro, improvisation: however you say it, spontaneous theatre reached soaring heights and delicious joyful nadirs at the 2013 New Zealand Improv Festival in Wellington.   There were lovely improvisors from around NZ and Australia and beyond, I got to be a “wonderfully wide-eyed” villainous spider demon queen in a Doctor Who adventure.  I sang in a choir that sounded magnificent despite that.   I was duty photographer for some of the shows, and at times it was hard to keep the camera steady due to laughing so much.   And, and, and . . . hope they do it all again next year.

May = general madness

May has been a silly/busy/creative month

  • Taking part in my first non-student art exhibition
  • Being ‘creative lead’ for a comedy festival improv show
  • Making a 7-minute movie in a 48 hour film festival – as camera person, gorilla, director and editor.

All these projects were shared with good friends – I am lucky to know so many crazy-creative and lovely people.

Art by funny people exhibition

At the ‘Art by Funny People’ exhibition, at Thistle Hall, I especially enjoyed encouraging people to try on my masks (which were exhibited with a “please touch” notice).  A mask on a wall is, at best, only a half-finished artwork.   I am always fascinated by the way the same mask looks weirdly different on different people.  Young blokes were particularly drawn to the newest mask, a very heavily bearded man, but keeness to try on a different gender was another characteristic quirk of interaction with the masks.

During the show another masked character (persona? entity?), Toothfish, visited the gallery and viewed the masks.  A reviewer visited too, commenting that “Ali Little’s masks have a distinct palette and style, and a pleasing interactive display.  They ask to be used. ”   My first art review!

comedy festival gorillaThe Comedy Festival show All-Star Gorilla was a revival of the traditional Keith Johnstone format – one that the Wellington Improvisation Troupe hold the local licence for, deliberately going back to doing the show by the book.  We had a  lot of fun directing each other in favourite games, and taking turns being the eponymous gorilla.  Meeting the public in costume when handing out flyers to promote the show, was an interesting experience.  Instead of the usual eyes-slide-past reaction, when maybe one in ten people will take a flyer, people actively approached Dru, boldly or shyly, to take flyers and pose for photographs. Continue reading