Spotlight On: Luke Rimmelzwaan
Luke Rimmelzwaan is a founder of ImproMafia, one of Australia's oldest improvised theatre companies and has been improvising for nigh on twenty years. He has performed and taught around Australia and the world including in Warsaw, Taipei , Manila, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne. He has developed many new improvised shows across a wide range of styles including Martini Time, Rock Pigs, Trade, Not 4 Kidz and Tales from the Old Country. He has also performed circus with Tofulama and directed operas, musicals and short films as well as appearing in a number of shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing and Lovepuke. Luke is also a founder of Corporation Theatre.
Tell us a bit about your show and the idea behind it, and why/how it excites you.
The show at its core is about getting queer performers on stage and them telling the damn truth about their lives and experiences. The show itself is a mix of true stories and improvised scenes, songs and puppets, joy and heartache. It is totally different from night to night as the performers follow what excites them and change and respond to what the audience enjoys as well. It's all held together with this idea we call the comedy of empathy. You laugh not because the performers are clever or you understand the reference but because they tell the truth so well that you understand and find joy in that. It's exciting because you can have the audience laughing so hard they almost fall off their chairs and minutes later they are silent and intensely engaged as they see a beautiful relationship slowly fall apart and then they are joyfully booing a true story of one of the performers. It's a rough, joyful theatre that swings through the whole gamut of the queer experience.
How did the idea for the show come about?
I was running a project with a number of performers called Sandbox which was experimenting with different ways of approaching theatrical improvised work. Two of the participants (Ryan Goodwin and Roisin McCartney) were doing some jams for queer improvisers at the same time and were looking start putting some performances together. An opportunity came up to pitch a show to MELT: Festival of Queer Arts and Culture and we pitched Hooking Up, which had been slowly developing. It was a huge hit at the festival and was followed up the next year with Trade. The shows are about exploring the everyday parts of the queer experience that aren't focused on as much in the mainstream media, with a focus on personal relationships and intimate moments.
What show other than your own are you most excited to see? Why?
How can I choose but one? There is so much great stuff happening! If you are making me choose one (and it seems like you are) it would be Mild West: Draw by Improsaurus. Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of playing with some of their group and each one of them is a loveable rapscallion with huge impro chops, but I have never seen them play as a group. Getting to see them all together to do their thing sounds like heaven. You should go to see it!
What's the best thing about improv?
When the players and the audience seem to have this marvellous mind meld and you can feel the show being created together. There is literally nothing else quite like it in the world. And after it's done you know that it's just a special thing that the people in that room share together, but it just exists in your memory of it. That, and the people. The people are uniformly the best people you will ever meet.