I met Katy in Austin, TX at OoB a few years ago. She does not remember this which I accept. I then got the joy of re-meeting and playing with her at the Neverending Improv Festival in Bucharest, RO. She is very cool and smart and she was working on a show called Let's Summon Demons so I was hooked. It was amazing to talk to her, learn about how improv/shows work in England and just generally share space. Enjoy.
ANDEL SUDIK: How would you like to be described?
KATY SCHUTTE: At all is a real treat.
AS: Where are you from?
KS: England. I grew up in a few places that end in 'shire'. Now I live in London.
AS: Life story in half a page, GO!
KS: My parents were doing up a house to sell in High Wycombe (west of London in England) so lots of memories of builders. I was a pushy, smart kid at my primary school and loved to disappear out the back of our garden into the countryside. We moved house and I had a terrible time at my new school, but made a couple of friends
to go stream-hopping and tree-climbing with. We moved again when I was 16 and I went to sixth form art college which was amazing. I found my people and myself right there.
AS: How did you discover improv?
KS: I had a Drama teacher at school who did short form games with us. Given permission to be funny, I had the best time. I would skip my English lessons to join the other year half in their drama class. The teacher let me. I thought I would be a visual artist, but I got addicted to theatre as I went through education. I was never the main part, but I was always a writer, so I made my own stuff. I took Drama at Hull Uni, then moved to Brighton and went to an improv class. I met a best mate there who said we should train at the best place in the world. At the time we surmised that was Second City Chicago. A few years later I went back and did the IO intensive. Then I travelled and collected as many schools and philosophies as I could, started teaching and playing more and more. Now it's my job. That and writer, actor, theatre maker, comedian.
AS: How would you describe London’s Improv style?
KS: The more London does improv, the more different styles emerge. The generation before me was dying out. It was mostly Johnstonian which seemed to me to be all about story and status. Now it's snowballing and is more Del than Keith. The biggest school (Hoopla) is very hippy and inclusive with a lot of love stretching from wacky short form comedy to thoughtful slow burn theatrical. The Nursery is known for genre shows and likes to be theatre, The Maydays are pretty experimental and often musical. In the last few years there's been a bit of a divide as a more UCB style school has come to town. It's a little more individualistic and specialises in improvised sketch/Harold. They're the jocks. Hoopla is the nerds.
AS: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Why?
KS: Leaving temping, probably. I did jobs I hated for years. Now even with occasional financial worries, I am so glad I stopped doing a job that made me miserable.
AS: What is your biggest failure? And what(if anything) did you learn from it?
KS: My first hour long solo show three years ago was really hard. I learned that I compromise my voice too much and I lean too much on the moral support of friends (and my moral support for that show had depression and visibly didn't like my show, so that made it worse). I learned to make my own voice heard, to rehearse and re-write a lot more, to get outside-eye advice and take or leave it and to make other people promote my solo stuff because I apologise for it.
AS: Favorite all time movie
AS: Describe your perfect day:
KS: Be inspired to write. Write. It happens to be good. Eat chocolate. Watch TV. Do an improv show with great people. Somewhere in this day look at a beautiful view.
AS: How did you get where you are?
KS: Graft, mate.
AS: What are you most proud of?
KS: I wrote a book last year. Looking back I have no idea how.
AS: What is one of your fears?
KS: Being shit and never achieving anything worthwhile. Also, my husband dying before me. (Standard)
AS: What keeps you going every day?
AS: Last piece of art that spoke to you?
KS: Frances Ha is amazing.
AS: Tell us an embarrassing story:
KS: I was once in a student production of Macbeth. I died but didn't get off the stage in the right blackout, so my 'dad' had to justify my body.
AS: Pump up song?
KS: Led Zep. Immigrant Song.
AS: What advice would you give to someone who is lost?
KS: What's getting in the way of what you want? What's the smallest thing you can do to start getting there? Or - if you're working really hard on it, do fuck all for a bit.
AS: Do you have a mantra or words to live by?
KS: I have a mantra every year that I'll live by. The last few years included "You have enough, you do enough, you are enough.", "Done is better than good" then this years' is "Maybe make a second pass".
AS: What gives you meaning?
KS: Friends, art, husband, family, nature.
AS: What do you struggle with?
KS: The ol' inner critic.
AS: What is success to you?
KS: Ever-changing goalposts.
AS: What are you working on that you’re geeked out about?
KS: I'm making a play called Let's Summon Demons, so that means I'm knee-deep in witchcraft. In Boston recently I took a day trip to Salem on the ferry...
AS: Anything else?
KS: Improv people are great, aren't they?
AS: What question would you add to this?
KS: How do you surprise yourself?
AS: What are some self care activities that you do?
KS: Yoga, meditation, running, knitting, hiking. Alcoholism.
AS: What teacher changed your life?
KS: So. Many. Bill Arnett, Jason Chin, TJ Jagodowski, Susan Messing.
AS: What job career would you have if you could do anything?
KS: This, but with more paid acting and writi
ng on the side.
AS: Ask your best friend: What is their favorite memory of you?
KS: What is something you've done that shook them to their core?
From Chris Mead (about us improvising together):
"Favourite is probably either Romulus and Remus being wolves for 12 hours* or the Amsterdam show with the two worlds colliding. In terms of shaking me - I loved the hopeless ending of the Happily Never After show in Athens - I thought that was a brilliant move."
*We did a 34 hour Improvathon without sleeping and played twins the whole time. Overnight, we turned into wolves and mostly people petted us in scenes. I had a stick-on beard for most of it and I drew my tattoos on Chris.