Life as Improvisation: Story of Trio of Student Artists

IMPRA was established under very interesting circumstances. Its three members don´t consider themselves to be actors and don´t know if one day they will. However, their performance speaks for itself. With their NEW FORMS tour they are visiting Czech towns. They are newly-announced Student Thalia Award 2015 winners. Youth Time was present at the awards ceremony. You can find out more about how they got together, their view of the theater and their vision in our interview.

Ondra Král and Hanny Firla are Czech and are studying musical theater (dancing, singing, acting), Igor Ochepovsky comes from Russia and is a successful student of composing at the same school.

How did IMPRA come into existence?

Ondra: – There is a story about that: One night (from Thursday to Friday) Hanny and I had the same dream. We were alone in the far-away Urals, and it seemed to be the end of us. At that moment a Russian wizard on a great stag appeared and took us to his hut. We renewed our energy there with genuine Russian vodka and pies. The next day we found there was no alternative to realizing our dreams. We found Igy, and that´s how IMPRA started!

Where are you studying, and where do you plan to go next?

Hanny: – We are all studying at The Jaroslav Ježek Conservatory and Higher Specialized School. Ondra and I are studying musical theater (dancing, singing, acting), Igor composing. In the future, we will of course try to take control of the school (laughter).

How do you find today´s theatre?

Ondra: – Uhm, it’s very wide-ranging, from the quality or color point of view and so on, simply diverse. There is always something new coming up, that means it is difficult to stop it.

Hanny: Definitely everybody can find what he most enjoys in theatre, that is true of any theatrical genre, however we’ve been trying to take it to a higher level and into other spheres.

According to you, who goes to the theater and where do they go?

Hanny: – I hope everyone, but probably not, probably the reality is a little different. We are witnessing, well not personally at our performances, but we’ve visited many important venues in Bohemia and have seen half-empty halls giving excellent plays. Fortunately, knock wood, people come to see us and it’s great! Everything is moving along, we hope that even more will come, but nevertheless in general theater attendance is declining, and so we are trying to bring in something new.

Who is your favorite spectator, what type of audience or theater-goer do you most like to see?

Igor: – It´s great if the the spectator is open and becomes part of the performance. That is always the best.

Hanny: – We are mainly happy if people come, because without people there is no one to play for, that´s how we see it, that is our definition and that´s how it is.

Ondra: – And an open-minded spectator can absorb the most, I think he´s the one who gets the most out of it.

Who is your favorite writer or script-writer, who inspires you most at the moment?

Hanny: – It´s Chekhov, because we are rehearsing him at school at the moment, he´s the „number one“ now, however we have others we like, too, but for now I would say it´s Chekhov.

What was the turning point when you realized you would become an actor?

Ondra: – Well who knows if I will be one. Anyway, it’s a challenge for me, it’s an option where I feel that I can move forward and this is very important for me. So for example me, it´s hard to say whether I will be able to think of myself as an actor one day. I think that generations after me will be able to judge that. It’s a never ending journey, an actor is not an ideal you can easily conform to.

Hanny: – Well, as Onda is saying, I hope one day it will be like that, because IMPRA is IMPRA. It’s singing, dancing and acting, these are subjects where we somehow realize ourselves, develop ourselves and it´s something we will keep on doing. Certainly we will not rest on our laurels and we will move on. Igor of course is just starting, right …

What is the secret dream of every theater student?

Hanny: – To have his dream!

Ondra: – To have fun, or to enjoy what we are doing!

Igor: – Fo me it´s very important that it is always something new, to continue the search, thinking outside of the box.

Who is your spectator? Is he of your generation? Is he your contemporary? Is he older?

Ondra: – Given that as part of our tour we visit experimental places and clubs with a stage, certainly most people there are of the younger generation. But of course in autumn, when we played in Jan Palach Square in Prague there were older people and surprisingly our sometimes controversial topics had a positive acceptance and we were glad. Certainly people of all ages can come to see us.

Hanny: – They are students, but of course the generations are different. But more to what Ondra was saying about Jan Palach Square. We had a great moment there when the older generation compared us to the old plays or how Voskovec, Werich and Ježek acted on stage, it really got us, because we did not expect such a comparison. It reminded them of some of that improvisation stuff and maybe this is a kind of new “Král, Firla and Ochepovsky” and we would be very glad if it really was.

Are people hungry for improvisation when you put on an impromptu performance also during the day? Do you think they are interested when you start fooling around in a shop, on the street or in a fast food place?

Hanny: – I think the times are set like that but definitely we are not trying to do this to show off, but for fun. We can get into a fast food restaurant and there can be a calm drama line there. We are not afraid of that!

Hanny: – In Zlín and Olomouc we burst into a room where a lecture was going on. We played students at these schools. Great fun. The last visit was the best. In Olomouc, we burst into a classroom just before the beginning of the performance where dentists were – was it dentists?

Hanny: – The professor was giving a lecture and we asked her a question. Is this a lesson in acting improvisation? Everyone was dead with laughter and the lady stayed really cool, we gave everybody a sticker, invited them to our performance and it went really great!

According to you, is theater a style, a hobby or a craft?

Ondra: – For each person it is different, everyone has to find his own thing in it, and if he really does then he is happy and he doesn´t care if it is a craft or entertainment.

Hanny: – I don´t know if it is a style, a hobby or a craft, but for me it is probably all together because I do what I like and I´m not thinking about if it is a style, hobby or a craft. That´s how it is. I do what I enjoy, what we enjoy and it is great.

Photos: IMPRA

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