Fifteen people join SpontaneoUS's training company Start

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Fifteen people join SpontaneoUS's training company Start

When SpontaneoUS announced it was cancelling its February show, the love was quick to follow.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

“We go every month love the lols and it helps with all of life’s stresses,” one Facebook poster wrote.

“So stink for you and us,” another said.

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But this isn’t a story about Covid’s effect on the Palmerston North theatresports company; it’s about growing recognition and new talent for SpontaneoUS.

Open auditions for SpontaneoUS Start, its training company, have finished with 15 of the 20 people who auditioned being successful. They are Laura Ashcroft, Shar Carson, Gary Clark, Kate Cullen, Jake Danson, Katie Doull, Jack Edens, Graxe Hadfield, Blake Knight, Toby Lockhart, Justin Ngai, Mikel O’Connell, Sin O’Connell, Hannah Pratt and Abi Symes.

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Founding member Leona Revell says some of those who auditioned hadn’t had improv experience before. “We are open to finding raw talent and giving people an opportunity because it’s a big ask for people putting yourself out there without a script.”

People sometimes look at improv and think they could never do that but that’s why the company trains and the improv journey never ends. Core cast member Ryan Knighton facilitated the auditions and is in charge of training for the Start company.

“He has a fantastic way of bringing out the best in people and providing a safe environment,” Revell says.

The core cast – Revell, Knighton, Jacob McDonald, Amberly Caldwell, Ben Pryor and
Finn Davidson – was looking for people who listen, take direction, are versatile, have a physical presence and are team players.

Those auditioning were taken through core improv skills such as storytelling, acceptance, and yes endings.

Theatresports is about accepting what the other person has said and building on the idea as a team. This is the theatresports equivalent of a handshake or pat on the back, Revell says. As the saying goes, don’t bring a cathedral, bring a brick.

People are taught how to do this because often they think they have a better idea. Acknowledging people’s ideas is a good way to build trust, Revell says.

“Improv is more than having laughs on stage, it can be used in business to build teams; it is appreciating everybody brings something a bit different to teams.”

SpontaneoUS has received $5000 of Creative Communities funding to put on six shows featuring members of Start. The first will be held in March, Covid dependent.

SpontaneoUS has also been funded by the Masterton, Manawatū, Whanganui and Horowhenua district councils to run improv workshops in their patches and do a show.

“It’s really touching that they can see the benefits for their communities and look at the bigger picture, that it’s not just people laughing on stage.”

Revell hopes as well as developing skills, the visits will provide comic relief as you have to be in the moment when taking part in and watching improv, not thinking about stresses in your life. As the storyline is based on what the audience gives them, everyone is connected. “Hopefully we can spread a lot of joy around the wider region.”

SpontaneoUS was nominated for a NZ Comedy Guild Award for best improv group 2021, the only group nominated outside Auckland. While Snort won, Revell says “to be nominated was a massive thing for us”.

Revell says SpontaneoUS is fortunate to have the support of Centrepoint Theatre; being Centrepoint’s resident improv company provides stability.

“We wouldn’t have been able to grow as much as we have without their support and this incredible team of the core cast.”

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