Living in the moment with Katt Cullen
WRS Mid Morning Mix Presenter Katt likes to set herself a challenge, including that most terrifying of live theatre concepts – improvisation. Here she explains how facing your fears on stage can set you up for life...
Katt Cullen joined WRS after a whirlwind international tour as a travelling trapeze artist!
Before joining the circus she was an actress and performer in London and Katt loves the buzz of a live audience. In what little free time WRS allows her, Katt relishes the challenge of Geneva’s improvised theatre scene.
Call Katt on the Mid Morning Mix and you’ll find that she’s more than happy to pass on your updates on local events and the funny stories that happen every day...
Listen to the Mid Morning Mix on WRS, weekdays 10am – 12 noon.
Here’s how improv helps me - and everyone that tries it!
When I’m not in the studio, hiding behind my microphone, I can be found on stage with the Renegade Saints. Some people call us an improvised theatre group, I’d call us a little stage-family of performing fools who don’t mind looking silly for the sake of entertainment. We perform improvised comedy sketches, based on audience suggestions. It can be terrifying to throw yourself in front of a crowd with nothing up your sleeve, especially when you like to be in control (like me), but it’s also incredibly liberating. You live in the moment; you let failure go.... you’re at the whim of your audience and you follow the direction that takes you.
BRAIN TRAINING... THINK FAST
Improv is a child’s game of make-believe mixed with high level Sudoku. Games are given a framework by the audience, which bizarrely helps the creativity flow. In fact the more you ‘practice’ improvisation, the faster your brain works. This helps in meetings and interviews when faced with a question you haven’t prepared for.
FAILING IS OK... NOW MOVE ON
Sometimes things happen on stage that are defnitely not ideal. You tried a joke that didn’t go down well, but it’s live and there’s no rewind. Next time you’ll win the audience back. Similarly, if you got a great reaction in one scene, don’t take it for granted that the next will go swimmingly. In improv and quite often in life, you’re only as good as right now!
Apparently success in business is about knowing when to say “No” - or delegating. But does that destroy creativity? For example, if you’re on stage and the audience shouts “Titanic”, go with it. If you’re already a monkey (don’t ask), you are now justifying how a monkey came to be on the Titanic, but that’s ok! Don’t leap straight to a ‘no can do’ response. Grasp the idea and develop it. If it doesn’t work further down the line, at least you gave it a go.
BE CONFIDENT - SELL IT
When you’re in front of an audience you might think you look like an idiot. But enjoy yourself and it all turns around. I used to be self-conscious about dancing – now I remember this gem as I bust some moves:
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.” - Mark Twain
DARE TO BE DULL
This translates to TRUST the person you’re on stage with. Momentarily uninspired? Create mutual trust and the scene will pick up. It takes a team to make the scene and you don’t have to be the funny one the whole time. If you’re saved by an improv team mate or colleague (who insists you’re in a submarine), then cling to the lifeline! They’ve just given you all you need.
Live radio and improv are incredibly connected. Often on the Mid Morning Mix, I’ll start with a topic or event for that day. Then someone will call in or text and spark a completely different debate. Small issues become the focus - then the focus fades into the background. I might be solo in the studio, but it’s never a monologue; it’s a conversation!
The Renegade Saints' next show is June 23 in Geneva!
Photos © Helen Patuck