Madeleine West is a nationally acclaimed actress who is one of the many talents who lives in our region. Not just a soap star (some might know her as Dee Bliss from Neighbours), Madeleine has an extensive performance training background and she’s going to be sharing her Theatresports expertise with kids at the Byron Comedy Fest.
Tell me a little about your performing background and how you got involved with Theatresports?
This year marks my 36th year on stage or screen in some form or other! Throughout my career I’ve trained across multiple disciplines and I’m now teaching my own acting method The ReActor Technique. Somewhere along the line I discovered I quite liked (attempts at) making people laugh, so whilst pursuing a stand up comedy career (frequently greeted by calls to ‘sit down!’) I started training at Second City in LA, the home of Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, Dan Akroyd, Wil Ferrell and Steve Carr. Second City focuses on improvisation as the key to all and any performance, Theatresports being the perfect demonstration.
Fast, furious, funny and off-the-cuff, Theatresoprts had me hooked from day one. I went on to compete professionally in Theatresports at LA Improv and LA Live, to perform regularly in troupes on the comedy circuit and at numerous festivals, and now employ it as a pivotal component of my own acting syllabus.
How does Theatresports help people who are interested in performing, or in other areas?
Without getting too David Attenborough on you, the ability to tell stories is what distinguishes us sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom. FACT! And Theatresports is storytelling at its purest. With nothing more than their wits, their teammates, hopefully a willing audience and the odd silly prop, performers will strive to create live stories that entertain – and achieve that seemingly most elusive of feats in our ever more cynical world: to make people laugh!
The rewards are many: Theatresports sharpens your thinking skills, your ability to think on your feet, teaches teamwork, cohesion, vocal expression, confidence, and relies entirely on what is quite an underrated quality in this age of cyber-connectivity and the information superhighway – your imagination.
What are you presenting for Byron Comedy Fest?
With the comedy fest rolling into town, I wanted to see Byron kids get up on the stage and tell their stories, hopefully in the process discovering the joy that is making people laugh, so this year I am offering a Saturday Theatresports Masterclass followed by a live performance on Sunday. I will teach you several classic improvised games and a heap of useful tricks, before letting you loose on a fully interactive audience of friends, family, and anyone brave enough to come along! No scripts, no sets, no egos, just raw performance, fully improvised, on the spot.
What is it about Theatresports do you think that is the most fun?
Theatresports is so much fun purely because it’s the perfect antidote to taking yourself too seriously. It encourages you to do all the stuff the world tells you not to do: Be loud! Be silly! Be outrageous! Be brave! Make a fool of yourself! Theatresports lets kids talk about and create stories about what concerns and entertains them, without the filter of curriculum or adult intervention, and to present these stories with the aim to educate, entertain and to make people laugh!
What is your favourite game/exercise?
The ‘One minute Fairytale’. The team performs a classic fairytale in one minute, then in 30 seconds, 15 seconds, seven seconds and finally three seconds. You’ve never seen Cinderella told like this before!
How can kids get involved for the upcoming workshop? What ages can join in?
Simply go to byroncomedyfest.com. Kids 8–14, but the more the merrier (or crazier). The stage is set, so come on kids, show us what you’ve got! Enrol your kids for the $100 Theatresports workshop on Saturday 15 May kids aged 8 years and up at 9.30am and aged 12-16 at 1pm with a $15 performance open to the public on Sunday 16 May.
Enrolments and more info at byroncomedyfest.com.