May 22, 2012

Endorsed by Zookeepers

Do you ever picture in your head what the coolest-looking version of yourself would be?

In my head - and in my dreams - I get around the place like a cross between James Bond and Xena. Effortlessly stylish, but powerful and deadly, like cobra tie. The reality generally involves untucked shirts, tatty scarf-wearing and shoes ill-suited to my bizarrely shaped feet. I am a proponent, it must be said, of "buffoon chic".

Which is why I was more shocked than anyone to see that while playing for Queensland in the 2012 Theatresports National Championships, I may have accidentally combined the Xena/Bond asthetic to look the coolest I will probably ever look in my life.

Note to self: more corsets.
I had the privilege of being one-third of the Queensland team for the competition, and had even lightened my hair to better match Wade and Tom, and fit in with our fascist/steampunk "Team Hindenburg" concept.

The June Dally-Watkins modelling course
I did when I was 14 finally paid off.

The night featured teams from Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT. The performers are all top improvisers, with many of them achieving legend status. It was an absolute joy to share the stage with them; to jump into their scenes when required; and to rely on them to support us - in one scene, literally, when we chose to do a physical challenge where our feet couldn't touch the ground, forcing the others to carry us around the stage!
Our very first game was an "I Love You" scene, and the suggestion our gorgeous MC Rebecca de Unamuno received was "giraffe".

Now the Enmore Theatre is fairly big, and there were around 1000 people in the audience. Sometimes in a space that big, your brain just goes a bit blank and you can't think of something sensible or clever to say - if you can say anything at all. That's kind of what happened as Wade and Tom left the stage and I looked out at the lights. I didn't really have anything in my brain, so I launched into my dodgiest giraffe impression. I used the heels of my boots to shape a lope across the stage in that languid, giraffe-y style. I actually really love giraffes, and always like staring at them whenever I visit zoos. So in between lopes, I stopped and gave my lips a big lick, sticking my tongue out as far as I could.

I must have been out on the stage by myself for a minute, not speaking, just... attempting to be a giraffe. The audience seemed to enjoy it; and the scene got more fun when Wade came on as a lion who just wanted to eat the giraffe. After some discussion, we resolved to put the long-running war between giraffes and lions to one side to take on our true enemies, poachers. Wade threw out the brilliant line "But our alliance cannot just be political, it must be sexual," prompting an "I love you" and a big giraffe-y tongue pash. It was a really simple, charming scene.

Lion. Giraffe. Art.
At the end of the night, we were shocked and amazed to be announced the 2012 Champions. It was extraordinary. This sounds like forty-two types of bullcrap but I honestly wasn't expecting it. So I think we were all very chuffed!

As we returned to the stage after the show wrapped up to have our photos taken with the Championship Belt, four young women in the middle of the auditorium starting yelling and waving at me. I couldn't hear what they were saying, so I ran down the steps at the front of the stage and up the aisle to meet them. They were all in their 20s or 30s, still carrying drinks, obviously not yet finished their night.

"We all work at Taronga Zoo!" they cried as I reached them. "Your giraffe was SPOT ON!"

It was one of the best compliments I've ever received. Girl Clumsy: Officially Endorsed By Zookeepers.
You can see a full gallery of the show at the website of photographer Stephen Reinhardt, and a special thanks to Stephen for letting me use some of his images here. I must also thank the wonderful Impro Australia for all their support, and for putting on a professional and energetic show.

Wade and I returned to Brisbane around lunchtime on Sunday, to prepare for his show Jorogumo at the Brisbane Arts Theatre.

I'm really pleased with how this performance went - based on Japanese monsters and fairytales, I thought it was a wonderful format with shades of light and dark.

Wearin' whiteface and kimonos. That's how we roll.
Thanks to Paul Harris for the picture.
Life is swings and roundabouts though, as I spent much of Monday and Tuesday this week pondering whether I'm actually any good at impro at all. That's not me trying to fish for compliments, it really isn't. I think you're often your worst critic, but in my case, I felt slightly undeserving of the Nationals win, and felt like I should have done bolder work in Jorogumo.

I'm hoping this feeling is a good one though; the day I think I know everything about impro and can't improve is probably the day I should give it up.

Our next big show is on the Gold Coast! That's right, we're doing a one night only Theatresports show at The Arts Centre Gold Coast on Saturday 2 June. If you live near the coast, I highly recommend the show - tickets are only $20 and we'll even bring down the Championship Belt to show off just how good ImproMafia really is!


  1. Brilliant stuff, congradualtions on the win. giraffe-lion the love that dare not roar its name.

    And that is a fabulous photo, can you use for all future driver's licences and passports?

  2. Congratulations on the win and on rocking such an amazing outfit.

    I really enjoyed Jorogumo and think Wade did a brilliant job with such a bold choice of idea. The vampire head scene was some of the best stuff I've seen (even Dan's groaner of a closing line). The mask on the back of the innkeeper's head was a really lovely touch.

  3. I still feel really bad for calling you Sunday afternoon and waking you up. Honestly what was I thInking?!