Improphondo in Latvia - 10-14/10/2007

Het was geweldig in letland. Eerst een interview voor de kranten en radio daarna elke dag workshops en voorstellingen. We hebben volle zalen getrokken en het publiek vond ons geweldig. s'Avonds tot diep in de nacht doorpraten en volgende dag weer aan het werk.

De eerste dag was er een interview. Alles moest uitgelegd worden. Hierdoor duurde het vrij lang. Gelukkig bracht Marijn nog wat humor in. De eerste avond mochten we ons voorstellen. We hadden onderweg in het vliegtuig twee games bedacht. De eerste was de roddel de tweede een manier om monologen te veranderen.

How did it go at the festival in Riga?

At the first evening we showed two games the first was a gossip. We Asked the MC what he has been doing. He told his answer in Latvian. And we made the story every time bigger. At the end he was dead. But the surprise was there when he seem to be o.k..
The second game started with the question “ What do you like to know from us” the rest of the group did not hear that. The second person had to listen to the monolog from number 1 and he told to number 3 only keywords. Number 3 to number 4 only movement without words. Than he told to number 5 only keywords and number 5 told than a monolog. It did show that story’s chance.

The second day

The second day starts with two workshops. One for the teachers By the Germans and one for the students By the Dutch ( Marijn).

The students where very enthusiastic, about what they learned. Marijn learned them the structured La Ronde.

Part 1 meeting between two persons . First meeting and half way, there is love. Not more than 3 words at the time.

Part 2 one of the persons from part one comes home to his/her partner ( for 20 years) he/ she takes the experience with him. Both persons are very busy.

Part 3 the last person of part 2 goes to his ex lover and compliance about his partner. They only can talk if they touch each other.

Part 4 last person of part 3 takes his feeling with him into his work. There is a low and high status and half way it chanced

Part 5 last person meets a colleague , there is one taboo. They are in love but it is forbidden at work.

Part 6 last person meets number 1 in a bar and they gossip about there experience.

Then it goes on en on. the number 1 meets number 2 and the story continues .etc

De la Ronde is afkomstig vanuit een lange improvisatie vorm die we eerder op het international festival in Amsterdam hebben gezien. Elk jaar in de derde week van Januari is dit festival in Amsterdam.

Wat heeft Improphondo nagelaten in Riga , Letland. Volgens de deelnemers van de workshops en mensen die de shows gezien hebben

  • Veel plezier op het toneel en in workshops
  • Samenwerking op toneel en in workshops
  • Durven taboes aan te pakken.
  • We hebben laten zien dat zoeken naar verhaal leuke momenten op levert.

What did IMPROPHONDO give to the people in theatre and in the workshops

  • Pleasure on stage and in the workshops
  • Working together on stage and in the workshops
  • Dear to touch taboos
  • Showing that sometimes you have to work to find the story and that is nice to see.

We got from the people of Latvia. A lot of hospitality. Latvia is the only country in the world where on schools they get Theatre sport as a lesson. There are many good teachers in Latvia. And they learn the children to listen to each other , work together and dear to take risks. That is something what most people in Latvia on the street don’t do. And we got a very good time in Latvia. With all the participants of the festival .

Artikel in de grootste krant van Latvia, de Diena

If laugh, then it is human being!

How comical can be the percept about the different, Marijn Vissers has understood in improvisational theatre.

The person of the day
Marijn Vissers, the leader of the improvisational theatre Improphondo from Amsterdam for long years has worked as a psychiatry nurse and in hospital with the patients, who are getting through various psychic traumas. For example, in a war or suffering from violence. “Really heavy stories often seemed even unbelievable and, listening to them day by day, my life seemed to become heavier day by day. Until the moment I turned to improvisational theatre,” says Marijn Vissers. Soon he discovered, that also for a patient is needed humour: the highest stress, the highest needing for a laugh. If you feel the needing for a laugh too, Improphondo perform at K-Suns on Friday, 12th of October, and will be together on a stage with improvisational theatre from Berlin Gorillas and on Saturday on a final show they will play on a stage with Latvian improvisational theatre groups in Rigas Kongresu Nams.

Against the ethnical strain
“We are interested in problems, which persists in ethnically parti-coloured society. As often as not the basics of it come from nonsensical, prejudicial points of view, which has formed to human beings each for other. With our improvisational games we are trying to depress the social stress and motivate to make a simple-hearted laugh for ourselves,” tells the Marijn Vissers, who itself is not coming from the theatre ambience. Theatre form is as end in itself. It serves for a goal of social integration and is useful also in schools and business environment, as it helps to relate and communicate freely. For example, make a gamesome play about possible relationships with your boss.
Themes for improvisations are enough, as in Netherlands there are at least 74 different ethnic backgrounds. “Formerly everyone behaved as there were no different ethnic backgrounds. But there are problems. Especially between the youngsters. We really like to work from the whole hearts in a way, which detracts the problems.” For example, playing a scene, how in a morning of Sunday breakfasting the Dutchman, Ottoman, Moor and Surinaman (formerly colony of Netherlands in SA) or a delegate from the Antilles. The best is to let the representatives from these countries to mime each other. “It would be easier for me to mime the Swede of Chinese than myself. I’m confirmed that you would become better typical Dutchman as I. In a competition of improvisational theatre in Riga may everyone put themselves in a Dutchman’s place!”
Once, when in a classes was an idea to play a typical Russian, it turned out that one of the participants is Russian. “I intend to change the theme, but he said us to play it. And we played sozzled bustling “Russians”, but he laughed with all his heart and said, which parts were exactly as in reality, and what was missed. It is interesting from a view of a guest who’s for the third time in Latvia, how does looks typical Latvian. “Very wistful and doesn’t show out the emotions. He keep silence for his actual feelings and seems quite shy. Before to do something, he waits and looks around on what the others is going to act.” But the biggest surprise was that even in a sunny summer days he couldn’t see the smiling or laughing people in a streets of Riga. “Everyone was in a hurry and seemed so serious! Why?”

Horn of the rhino
How nonsensical and comical percepts we have about other cultures, nations, traditions, Marijn had observed leading the workshops not just around Europe, but also in SA, Kazakhstan and Armenia. “At SA I saw how much hate can be between different ethnical groups. Luckily I as a foreigner who know nothing could ask stupid questions. Soon we started to make jokes and the atmosphere become freer.”
From SA also comes the name of the theatre Improphondo, connecting the words “improvisation” and… “horn of the rhino”. “Once, when I was observing kids who were earning money playing street theatre, I started to film them. As they noticed me, he started to shout – Phondo Luka Bhejane. In Zulu language this means “horn of the rhino”. I blushed from the shame and apologized, because I didn’t ask the permission to film, but they said– it’s ok, you just look like a rhino!” tells the guest and shows to his head, which is adorned with big, impressive hair curl. With a help of hair gel he is shaping a “horn”. As he got the nickname Phondo, he kept it also in a name of theatre. Afterwards he got into a row from his countries Minister of culture, who is a expert in African traditions. She said that in this name is honoured just the most reputable persons in Zulu. The rescue was that these were Zulu kids who gave him such a nickname.
When asked is he also is a father of a wide family, he tells easy: “I’m gay, married with a man and feel happy for it, we are together already 26 years. Mostly I see the good things in a people. In a world there are so lot of positive energy, if you just want to see it.”

Marijn Vissers is op persoonlijke titel uitgenodigd voor het eerste internationale improvisatiefestival te Riga. Hij mocht zijn eigen team samen stellen.Het team bestaat uit enkele medewerkers van Improphondo.Het festival vindt plaats te Riga van 10 tot en met 14 oktober 2007. Hieronder een korte beschrijving van het team en wat ze willen gaan doen in Riga.

The team “Improphondo“ is a team with actors and teachers from all over Holland. In Holland we have about 100 different improvisation theatre groups. Some of the best actors and teachers in Improvisation techniques are in this group. Marijn Vissers, the leader of this group has been in 2000 and 2002 in Latvia. He has given workshops to Latvian people, improvisation actors and teachers. These workshops have inspired him to give more workshops all over the world. So has Marijn Vissers worked with improvisation theatre In Armenia, Kazakhstan, South-Africa and West Europe. His speciality is working with multi ethnic (background) people.

Like in Latvia, Armenia and Kazakhstan there are two or more different big ethnic groups living together. Russian and Latvia, Russian and Kazak etc. Sometimes with big problems. Improvisation theatre can help people to have fun with each other instead of having fun about each other. The difference between each other can we use as material to make a nice improvisation play. And so we have fun with each other not about each other. In Holland we have big problems between youngsters with different ethnic backgrounds like Morocco, Turkey, Dutch Antilleans, Surinam and the Dutch. We started theaterbattle (theatre sport for multi ethnic youngsters between 15 and 21 years) where all these ethnic people work together. And we invented new games. Where we use the ethnic background. These groups are very new. So they are not yet ready to come to Latvia. The team “Improphondo” is still totally ethnic white Dutch. But we promise to come back in a few years with a mixed ethnic Improvisation group. Until that time you have to look to our white faces.

The actors of Improphondo are always looking for a way to mix serious theatre (drama) and comedy. In our long form we are hoping to show you this. We say hoping because it’s improvisation. So we never know before what we show on stage. In our long form we use techniques we learned from other groups from all over the world. We like to say that we have nothing from ourselves. We only copy and mix. Of course the mixer is what makes us special. We invite you to do the same. Learn and use techniques from all the groups you see in your festival. And give it your Latvian Spirit.

In the workshops we show you different things:

In one workshop we show you how we do our long form improvisation. We show you as well techniques how to get the ordinance involved. In another workshop we work with masks. We work in this workshop with our body. Most of the time we talk to much and special on stage. So working without words, just your body can help you as actor and as a regular person as well. The third workshop will be about short forms we use in theatre sport. We are still talking about with forms we like show you because there are hundreds of games we like to do. In this workshop we like to give you the inspiration to make this more Latvian. Because we like to say “you can eat Mac Donald’s but never forget your own food “ so don’t only copy but make it your own.

The group “Improphondo” is 5 persons big. We start with the ladies: We have Lieselotte Nooyen, she is an professional Improvisation teacher and Actor as well. In her personal life she lives with an American improvisation Actor and teacher. So every day it is improvisation and Improvisation. Look for website: (in dutch)

We have Nanette Boxman. She is a professional actor and a professional Improvisation actor. She gives workshop in and with many different theatre techniques. She can play many believable characters.
Look for her Dutch website (in dutch)

Than we have all the men: Jochem Meijer. He just started to have his own company and just like the others he is a teacher and improvisation actor as well . He is a part of the group Easylaughs. And he is the only one in the group who plays every friday in English.
Look for (this website is in English)

And Richard Roling. He is like all the others professional teacher and actor as well. With his group “De arrogantjes” he won the National Dutch improvisation trophy. They are performing all over the country. And they play many times against the Easyloves. Look for or (in Dutch)

And at last Marijn Vissers. He is a teacher and actor as well. He has his own company, like all the others. He gives many workshops at schools and with multi-ethnic people. He likes to look for new ways how to use the impro-techniques in the society.