A Statement on Programming the new theatre
We at the Nursery have always prided ourselves on doing a little bit of everything. Although we may have our own personal tastes and passions, we are determined to make the Nursery a space that supports all kinds of improvisers and shows. Here is what we take into consideration as we programme the space. This statement is reviewed and altered at least twice a year. If you have any comments on it, please use our feedback form (linked below) to let us know!
A variety of styles of improv
The Nursery programmes improvised work of all kinds. Our regular nights feature guest and resident groups performing a variety of styles of improvisation, short and longform, genre based and musical. We also programme other work including:
- International guests – teachers and performers from around the world, some of whom we bring over to teach and some of who we just grab as they’re passing through town.
- The Slapdash International Festival of Improvisation – a week of shows and workshops in the autumn. International guests, inspiration and improv you don’t normally get to see in London.
- Thematic nights curated by Nursery players and teachers.
In order to support the London improv community and improve the quality and diversity of its work, we consider it essential that we allow groups to grow and progress by giving performance opportunities to all levels of experiece. Here are some of the specific measures we take to ensure this:
- Thursday Night Lights slots are allocated close to the start of the seasons (roughly on a six week cycle). We endeavour to give slots to all groups who apply.
- From autumn 2017, we will be starting the Carousel, a Sunday evening show which groups will apply to play four weeks in a row. This allows them to work on a particular form and improv over the course of the month.
- Slots in our Friday and Saturday programming for shows from both of the above.
It is essential to the growth of the improv scene in the UK that newer individual players are also given the opportunity to develop. The Nursery has several strategies to ensure this happens:
- Our weekly Thursday Night Lights jam shows allow improvisers to play either scenes or longform in a supportive, fun environment.
- Casting for Nursery Originals programming and other Nursery shows will always be partly by audition.
Players and audiences from a variety of backgrounds.
The Nursery is very aware of the current debate around race, gender, age, sexuality and other forms of identity and difference in improvisation. We strive to create and welcoming, open and accessible atmosphere in all Nursery classes, shows and jams.
Here are some of the specific measures we are taking to address these issues:
- In February 2017, we rolled out the Nursery Code of Conduct and Crisis Communications policy. This sets out the standards we expect of our staff and teachers in order to create a safe, open and welcoming spacce. All Nursery staff are trained on this. If you or someone you know has felt discriminated against or unsafe in any Nursery environment, you can report it here.
- In January 2017, we rolled out the Jason Chin Diversity Scholarship. Since then, all Nursery courses which are more than a single class long have had at least one scholarship student on them.
- In June 2017, the Nursery supported Zeal (the Pride improv festival) with free workshop space, publicity and a Thursday Night Lights ‘takeover’.
- In September 2017, the Nursery will be launching a programme for teenagers entitled the London Improv Theatre Training League (LITTL). This will allow us to reach and train the next generation of improv performers, as well as bringing in players and audience of a different age. Subsidised and free places will means this is accessible to people from all backgrounds.
- The Nursery gives free workshop space to QI, possibly the UK’s first queer improv group.
- Every month we run a free Sunday afternoon workshop called Puddle Jumping, places for which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
- All Nursery buildings are wheelchair accessible. From autumn 2017, we plan to have sign interpreted shows at least monthly.
Photos: Bob Stafford