Hello. We are Heather and Jules, and this is Andalso, an improv company just emerging, blinking, into the light. There is a website now and even a Facebook page. Those things in themselves feel huge to us. Vulnerable.
Informally, some version of AndAlso has been around for maybe a couple of years. We never intended to start a company. We just had some people who wanted to take classes with us, a couple of Zoom accounts and a tendency to start sentences with ‘What if.’ Until very recently, it wasn’t even really called anything. It laboured under clumsy names like ‘Experienced Players Classes’, ‘Jules and Heather’s secret improv club’ and ‘those courses we do’. Names are hard, and we started saying ‘AndAlso’ mostly to save ourselves the linguistic gymnastics. But then we started liking it. It’s simple, and says what we do: Add things to things and see what happens,
In my teens, I wanted to be an academic. As a bookish kid, it seemed like the obvious choice. Luckily, university set me straight, with the reality of long days in the library, and the realisation that I was just not quite smart enough. But as we have been running classes, it has become clearer to me why I had that ambition, and how I can live a little bit of it without ever having to find the Phd funding.
It goes something like this: An academic does not have one job, but two. To learn what she does not know and share what she does. To research and to teach, to find and to share. There is often not a hard and fast distinction between these two things, but both impulses are strong, and rely on each other to power and justify themselves.
As an improv teacher, it is delightful to hone and perfect what works. There are some exercises and classes where I almost have a script. I even use the same examples. I am proud of the precision of that. Like sharpening a knife to an almost invisible point. But as a restless neophile, I don’t want to just become more narrow. I want to make things hard on myself, to set myself problems I have to solve. Narrative masters PGraph design shows to explore what they believe they are doing less well. I respect that, and emulate it.
There is a careful, shifting balance to be struck here. How do we use and share our skills without fetishising them? And how do we embrace new ways to play while still prioritising quality? Like all questions of balance, there is not a grand, unified answer to this question, but a constant shifting and compensation. A search for the just-right porridge of honesty.
So I guess that’s what we want to do, to poke and prod, to pull the levers of improvisation and see what happens. And also to share what we have learned and what we have not yet worked out. One thing AndAlso the other. Hello. We are AndAlso. Good to meet you.