Some years ago, back when I was co-running the Theatresports show at the Pig 'n' Whistle pub at Indooroopilly, I received an email from a woman named Deborah.
It turned out she was the co-founder of London-based improv troupe The Spontaneity Shop, with her husband Tom. They were going to be in Brisbane, and had emailed to ask if we would like to have them run a workshop while here. We jumped at the chance, and had them come along to a show as well. They were marvellous - wonderful improvisers and fantastic people - and we maintained email contact.
It's been over four years since that first contact, and in that time, Deb has been back to Oz on a couple of occasions to run improv workshops, and The Wah and I have been fortunate enough to stay with her and Tom in their fabulous apartment in Camden on three different occasions when we've been in London. We have done improv training with them, watched and even performed in one of their shows (yes, that's right, I have appeared onstage in London. Thank you.).
They have always been such generous hosts - we adore spending time with them. It's not just their depth of knowledge of improv, comedy, acting, theatre and performance in general, not just what they've achieved with The Spontaneity Shop, but the fact they completely believe we could do it too. They are such inspiration and enjoyable company - I feel like I'm better person just for knowing them, and being the beneficiary of just a small part of their knowledge.
Since doing some initial classes with Deborah and Tom, I've harboured the dream that one day I will go to London for a slightly more substantial period of time and do more extended training with them. I think it may be something I might have to do sooner rather than later - Deborah's career is taking her in even more exciting directions. Not only has she had successful stand-up comedy shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the last two years, she will be touring a show next year. On top of that, she and two friends have recently sold a SCREENPLAY to a film production company, and are now making frequent trips to Los Angeles to meet with film studios and executives and "pitch" ideas to them.
The Wah and I heard about all these latest eye-popping, jaw-dropping adventures during a catch-up with Deborah on the Gold Coast last night. I spent most of the few short hours over teppanyaki and thickshakes with my mouth open, begging for more details, and asking questions about how you write a screenplay, and learning about loglines, treatments and the looming Hollywood writers' strike. When we got home I was bursting with excitement and determined to write my own screenplay and make it big in L.A. I might be too podgy to be onscreen, but if I could fire up my imagination and learn a bit about the process, who knows what I could achieve off it!
So this is just my way of thanking Deborah for sending me that email all those years ago. I'm so thankful, every time I think about improv, that she reached out and made that connection. Deborah and Tom are just two of the best people I've ever met, and I'm forever grateful for their friendship, advice, hospitality and generosity. Slowly but surely, I'm going to prove to them that their faith in me was well-placed.