Simon Merrifield and Claire Orme


In Simon Merrifield and Claire Orme’s latest collaboration, the two will push their own improvisational skills in two very separate fashions. Initially engaging in conversation with each other, audience member are invited to edit and adapt Merrifield’s character during this time (e.g. previous examples have included transformations into Jamaican fashionistas, the Queen with diarrohea, dogs, cats, the superhero Thor, and even the removal of various bodily limbs). This done by approaching him and whispering into his ear what the interactor wishes to see. Merrifield is then immediately challenged to adapt and take on this new role, whilst Orme must equally learn to adapt and continue a flow of conversation with an ever-changing set of unknown characters sat directly next to her. The piece plays on two forms of improvisation; both of that found within the world of improvised comedy, but equally everyday improvisation, when one is required to think on their feet and negotiate unknown situations or characters within their own life. Despite having quite disparate practices, there is a clear link between Simon and Claire’s work - to create or discover an alternate state. Within the situations they develop, the entertainer and the investigator challenge one another in a playful fashion exploring this. The manner in which they do this allows the two to join their audience in the space, combining the pleasure of a comfort zone with the mysterious nature of a state beyond the physical world.

Claire Orme investigates the histories and secrets etched within and upon spaces and objects, attempting to unlock the landscape of mysteries hidden by the conventional methods of experiencing the world. She holds an innate desire to believe in something beyond the physical world, expressed through her pursuit to uncover the unseen – to see the invisible and to hear the silent. Her practice is research-led, using archived material, interviews, the internet and personal experience to examine and explore specific moments, people and eras within our history. These narratives are transported into the present through a meticulous interlacing of fact and fiction.

Meanwhile, entertainer and artist Simon Merrifield walks into a bar.

“Shouldn’t you be writing a creative biography about yourself and your work?” asks the barman, “y’know, touching on your interests as a practicing artist on the relationship between art and entertainment, ideas that you’ve explored previously, like the time you gave up your name for Lent and attempted to remove all traces of it from existence, or the time you serenaded gallery visitors with a selection of cliché love songs, from artists like Taylor Swift, Marvin Gaye, and Nat King Cole?”

“Oh shit”, says Simon.

What does improvisation mean to you?

Simon - As both an artist, and an entertainer, improvisation represents a huge part of my own practice. The best performances, and the best kinds of humour (the kind found in conversations at 2am with a group of friends discussing some new in-joke or spinning ludicrous tales), is spontaneous, unexpected, and entirely improvised. The spontaneity of improvisation allows my twin roles of artist and entertainer to co-exist, creating an unexpected and memorable experience for performer and audience each time around.

Claire - Improvisation: to listen and to react to your surroundings. To allow yourself to be free from preconceptions and rehearsals.

Contact Simon
Contact Claire