What the hell is Osho Leela? Sounds like a character from a Legend of Zelda video game. Far from it. From their website:
We are a special bunch of people, united by the desire to live communally and linked by the search for spiritual growth and raising personal awareness.
Because we maintain an open door policy in our community, the size of our group is ever-changing. However, we do have a fixed group of around 15 adults and two children. At the time of writing we have six guests, some of whom will be staying for a longer time, while the rest are here temporarily.
Ok maybe not. But more of that later. Why am I talking about Osho?
A friend of No Drama, John Loftus of Choke Improv talked me into attending a Improvisation Comedy Festival in the UK, facilitated by John Cremer and the award winning Maydays. I had only heard good things about John Cremer but had never even seen a picture of the man.
I talked Brian Quinn of No Drama into coming along so John L. took care of the arrangements. It was after the arrangements were made, John fillled me in on the logistics of the weekend. Namely the “hippy” bit. A weekend in a caravan with no meat served in the restaurant lay in store. I had no sandals to bring with me.
We were due to fly to Bristol on Friday 24th on an afternoon flight with Ryanair. Things got off to a bad start when our flight was delayed for nearly 6 hours resulting in an arrival in Bristol of approx 1:10am rather than the scheduled 6:20pm. The fun didnt end then, we had a 90 minute drive ahead of us to the secluded countryside location in Gillingham. (No, not the one in Kent. The other one)
It was cold. And the caravan was cosy thanks to John L. pre heating our rooms with the portable heaters. (John arrived earlier that day as he was flying from Knock). I always knew John was a mammy at heart.
Fortunately we didn’t miss any workshops with our late arrival. Friday evening was more a meet and greet occasion over dinner. The fun and games was scheduled to kick off at 8:30am with breakfast with workshops from 9:30am. I had a whopping 4 hours sleep to look forward to.
I’m not a morning person, and I never will be. I feel no shame for that. But some people just don’t get those of us who are not morning people. There is nothing wrong with me. I dont need a dose of sunshine stuck up my arse in the morning. I just need, space, time and tea.
So you can imagine my anxiety when at 9:30am we conjugate in the main hall and a DJ starts playing dance music while waiting for John Cremer to kick off the proceedings. I kid you not, lots of people started dancing. Some of the girls formed lines and danced in sync. Even John L. started dancing. It was surreal, at that hour of the morning. Taking in the sight, there was about 40-50 people there, a wide mix of ages and an even 50/50 split gender wise. Oh and we had to take off our shoes. But that was ok. My socks had no holes.
It was at this point I was first introduced to the talent of the Maydays. John Cremer took the stage and kicked things off. His first point was to officially welcome myself and Brian. He asked me to tell the group a bit about the ordeal of the journey we had. So I did. The second the story finished, the keyboard player kicked off and John C. informed the room that it sounded like we had the Aviation Blues.
The Maydays got stuck into 12 bar blues with some musical improv influenced by my story. There was no hesitation on their part, no confusion over who had to sing the next part. It all sounded rehearsed and scripted. It was amazing.
For the duration of the day, there was a choice of between 3 and 4 workshops to chose from. It was a bit like being in college again with the class and room schedule handed to everyone. I decided to spend my morning in two Long Form workshops.
The long form exercises and games were lots of fun. Our improv shows as part of Laughalot focus on short form improv but in our workshops in Dublin, we would perform long form sketches and exercises. But we hadnt performed long form in front of an audience yet.
The long form workshops pulled a crowd. But the standard of improv was high. It was interesting and a challenge to work with competent performers that I had never met before. It didnt feel like a competitive environment. There was great support and encouragement from the tutors. After about 3 hours of long form it was time for lunch.
The folk running Osho are quite the organic type. The lunch was home made, home grown. There was soup, delicious bread and salad on offer. And tea. Its very important to emphasise that there was an abundance of all sorts of teas and tea breaks throughout the weekend. I loved that about Osho. An appreciation of tea.
Some lunchtime conversations ensued. I must point out before I go on, that I’m crap at remembering names. So if I talk about someone from here on and don’t mention his or her name, its because I cant remember it. And I was probably told it. More than once.
A lovely lady from England, joined myself, Brian, John L and John C at a picnic bench in the gardens. She asked us about No Drama and what we did in Dublin. Then this happened:
Nice Lady: “So why don’t you come put on a show on the mainland?”
She was oblivious to what she had said. Now, it didn’t offend anyone and we laughed. But it was amusing as to her bewilderment as to what the issue was. John C. explained what she had said. She still didn’t get it. So we called her a European. We knew she wouldn’t like that!
I got talking to one of the residents of Leela over lunch too. A very happy and joyous man. While he at first might come across a bit odd, I realised while talking to him that he was very much happy in his own skin. He was very happy in life but spoke of wanting to hear negativity in life so that he could bring balance to it. Still, I didnt bother him with my problems. I didn’t want to turn him into a broken man! My last memory of the conversation is him saying,
“I learnt so much from my mistakes, that I think I will make a few more.”
La la lalala la
I was determined to give it shot. It’s something that we know we need to introduce to the Laughalot shows. When done right, its a hilarious part of a show. When done wrong, its embarrassing, boring and yawn enducing….
Musical Improv! I was terrified. I mean, I have had two motorcycles accidents in recent years yet I was more terrified of doing some musical improv. However the tutors were very supportive and encouraging. But lets be honest, there was no denying that I was going to have to sing at some stage. Improvised singing. But I did. I was sweating buckets and in need of an AED by the end of the session but I did it. As did Brian. And the scary part? It was great fun and we wanted more!
After a break, I was in two minds what to do next. Brian went to a character development workshop but I decided that I couldnt let the weekend go by without doing some short form improv. I figured it would be a nice way to wind down the day.
Of course, I had forgotten that short form improv can be intense, laugh-a-minute and extremely draining. So after a fun packed 90 minutes, I was fit for bed!
The day’s workshops were over and the evening’s entertainment was due to begin. Dinner first (a tasty Indian vegetarian curry with naan.) followed by some shows.
Look into my eyes…
First up some stage hypnosis. Make what you will of that. Entertaining but surely you can’t hyponotise people that fast? Well she did, and thankfully didnt resort to hypnotising people into thinking chairs were sexy or anything like that.
Next up was the Osho Leela inhouse Improv troupe. A quick 20 minute set and some good short form improv demonstrated with some challenging games.
And the grand finale, The Maydays performing some long form improv – musical numbers and all! It was easy to see why The Maydays have won awards. It was like watching a scripted, rehearsed show. It was hilarious with a story told from start to finish. The songs had a rehearsed feel to them and really brought the scenes to a new level.
After the Maydays performed the room was converted into a nightclub setting and the bar opened. Myself and a few others had a peak into the “Theatre Costume Room” (how cool is that!) and picked out some appropriate outfits for the occasion.
Much banter and craic was had over the rest of the night. Most importantly, we introduced the words “gee” and “gawl” into the English folk’s vocabulary. While I can’t remember everyone’s name that I bent the ear off, interogated with questions and probed with deliberatly leading sexist enquiries, I will give special mention to Meg, Aine, Sam, “B”, Maureen, Gillis, Jason, Flora, Carrie, Andy (and the other folk whose names escape me!) who were good sport and craic for enduring my ramblings! After all that, it was time for bed!
The cold of the night tooks its toll and I was awoke Sunday morning, after a poor night’s rest with a sore throat and flu symptoms. I knew another music workshop wouldnt be a runner today but I did take part in a workshop on “Object and Environment”.
Unfortunately for myself and Brian, that is where our Osho adventure had to end as we had a flight home to catch. We had to sacrifice on another 2 workshops as a result but we still had a fantastic weekend of improv.
I was going to go into detail on some of things we learned and picked up over the weekend but I have decided to keep that under wraps and if you want to find out more, well you will just have to come to one of No Drama’s workshops! (Comedy Improvisation runs every Sunday at 5:30pm and the general workshop runs every Tuesday at 7pm. Both workshops take place in Synge Street Primary school.)
A MASSIVE thanks to John Cremer, The Maydays for putting together an excellent weekend. Also huge thanks to the good people at Leela for looking after us and getting involved in the improv! It was a great weekend with new friends made and awesome improv performed!
For more info on Osho Leela, check out their website below.
Want to try some improv or theatre with No Drama Theatre? Check out our website for more info: