Spotlight On: Jennifer O'Sullivan
Jennifer O'Sullivan is a performer and producer in Wellington, NZ, with a long history of making things up as she goes along. As an improv teacher she has travelled nationally and internationally, helping improvisors become fearless and work naturally on stage. As a performer she has been in countless shows (mostly improvised) with many different companies, including the award winning Awkward Threesome (Tastiest Show, NZ Fringe 2016) and many more. She is currently completing an MFA in Creative Practice at Victoria University, and has served as the festival director for New Zealand Improv Festival since 2014.
Tell us a bit about your show and the idea behind it, and why/how it excites you.
Well I kind of selected all of the shows, but the ones I'm directly involved in are Improdome (I'll be hosting opening night and I co-created it!) and New Zealand vs the World. Improdome is just a damn good time - everyone playing together, the audience getting to be judges, and way too many hilarious scenes. New Zealand vs the World is a different beast - it's where I get to select my favourite players from across the week to represent their teams, and give them and the audience a celebratory, send-off-the-fest party.
What show other than your own are you most excited to see? Why?
That is like being asked to select a favourite niece or nephew. I will NOT do it.
What's the best thing about improv?
The sheer joy of it, everywhere and in everyone. When the audience, the players, the musicians, the ushers - everyone is experiencing a moment together, for the first and only time, and creating incredibly hilarious/touching/stunning theatre.
How would you describe your personal improv style?
Open, weaving, joyful, determined.
Weirdest/best way improv has helped you in daily life?
I wrote a whole blog post about this. Here's a snippet:
"...And this brings me to one more thing that I love about improv. That learning how to follow the joy in a scene, and how to be a good improvisor, is basically a blueprint for how to find joy in life, and how to be a good person.... Be positive. Be obvious. Accept offers. Make each other look good, but take care of yourself first so you have something to offer. Embrace failure. You have everything you need already. You are enough."
What's going on in the improv world where you are?
THE NEW ZEALAND IMPROV FESTIVAL OF COURSE. You heard about that, right?
What's going to be the NEXT BIG THING in improv?
It might not be that enormous, but I'm working on my MFA right now and my creative project will be exploring improvised set and props, and I'm really excited about the potential there. I'll let you know how it pans out...
Jennifer hosts the opening night of Improdome 6:30pm Tuesday 17 October, and New Zealand vs the World 9:30pm Saturday 21 October, both at BATS Theatre. Our full programme runs 17-21 October - don't miss a moment!