The Wilmington Players


Features, Theatre | by — November 9, 2011

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Long Form Improv
Sundays at The Wilmington Arms

by Joanna Orland

British audiences are very familiar with improvisational comedy from the likes of Whose Line is It Anyway and more recently Fast and Loose. Improvisation, or Improv as it’s more commonly known, has always been a source of comedy in Britain, but what you more often tend to see here is the short form, which is more game and quicker payoff.

Improv in America, however, is quite different. With the biggest Improv scene coming from Chicago from such notable institutions as The Second City and I/O, most American comedians that we know and love, including Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Jane Lynch and many more come from this background.

While Long Form Improv has indeed been present on the UK comedy scene, it hasn’t quite had the following or success rate as it has in North America. The British scene finally feels like it’s on the cusp of change with more and more groups choosing to perform Long Form.

One such group is The Wilmington Players, which consists mainly of students of David Shore, a prominent improviser who ran the successful improvised talk show Monkey Toast in Toronto. David, who is an alumnus of The Second City Mainstage and The Improv Olympic West, moved to the UK about 1 year ago and started running Long Form Improv classes here in London.

These classes have attracted many up and coming comedic talents, many of whom were originally recommended David by improvisational hip-hop comedian Rob Broderick, otherwise known as Abandoman. These students have now trouped up to form The Wilmington Players. Let’s meet a few of these players, shall we?

John Henry Falle:  Beta Male / Impersonator of that guy from Police Academy.

Simon Fazey: Comedy Writer and self-proclaimed Awesome guy!

Jon Gracey: Beta Male and loves playing animals!

Lexa Freshwater Burton:  Also loves when Jon plays animals!

Gareth Morinan:  Twat.

Matt Thomas:  Vaguely resembles Gordon Ramsay.

Juliet Stephens:  Comedienne and lady of The Good Ship Comedy Club.

Stewart McCure:  Australian AND talented!

Julian England:  British comedian with a patriotic surname!

Clare Kerrison:  Improv teacher and performer!!

Edward Bennett:  Thinks improv is like dreams!

The Wilmington Players play Sundays at The Wilmington Arms in London. And you also may see me performing with them on occasion as I’ve been studying with David Shore as well for the past year! I can tell you firsthand that this Long Form Improv is enlightening stuff!

Lexa & Ed as ZOMBIES!!!

Jon as a CHICKEN! One of his many animal portrayals.

Stewart takes centre stage.

Jon doing something non-animal related.

John Henry commanding attention.

Lexa pre-zombification.

The Wilmington Players sometimes include, but are not limited to:

Gareth Morinan
Matt Thomas
Juliet Stephens
Stewart McCure
Clare Kerrison
Ed Bennett
Jon Gracey
John Henry Falle
Me (Joanna Orland)
Simon Fazey
Lexa Freshwater Burton
James Burwood
Julian England
Richard Soames
Jess Mandeville

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