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Spotlight on Imogen Miller Porter

| Comedy, Culture, Festivals, Special Events, Theatre, Things to do, Venues | 07/04/2014

Imogen Miller Porter
Imogen Miller Porter photographed by Martin Slidel

It’s a delight to catch up with actor and writer Imogen Miller Porter, just as she’s finishing her current run as the screeching matriarch in the interactive Faulty Towers Dining Experience at Charing Cross Hotel. Despite what I imagine as an exhaustive role she blusters into the nearby café looking fresh as a daisy; resplendent in turquoise plaid shirt, plaited locks not quite free of that infamous Sybil coiffure.

I had the pleasure of introducing Imogen – as herself – at the Playerist Comedy Night when she gave a fine reading of her achingly funny monologue about the perils of part-time work between shows. More of which is mused upon in her addictive and entertaining Blog ‘Jobbing It’. Imogen attended the Sharon Harris Theatre School and enthuses that “Sharon was brilliant! We did a lot of ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ – when I first started doing improvisation.” I sense a thirst unquenched, and question Imogen about her years as an undergrad in ‘London-by-the-sea’. “I studied Contemporary Theatre at the time when a lot of the new immersive companies were starting out,” she explains, “and those were the kind of things that influenced me. There was a lot of interactive drama going on then as now in London with things like ‘Punch Drunk’.”

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Imogen Miller Porter photographed by Martin Slidel

From a wealth of experience, Imogen pinpoints her passion for touring: “It’s my main love. I like waking-up in different places every day.” The love-affair began as a backing vocalist aged just eighteen, for long-established names like PJ Proby and The Searchers – the very mention of which causes her to burst into “Sweets for my sweet!” (simultaneously dismissing the attendant dessert-trolley). “It was my first experience of three months touring all around the country…” she sighs – restfulness resting mid-air a moment.

In recent years Imogen co-founded the all-female Shambush Theatre Company. “We started out as a walkabout troupe and performed various places including Glastonbury and La Scala in King’s Cross, and supporting L’Enfant Terrible at Latitude.” Their biggest event drew in 12,000 visitors to the Brighton Dome. Other gigs, as Ms Porter extrapolates, included “a ‘Shambulance’ of manic doctors and nurses who insisted on ‘fixing’ people up. Or ‘Happy Housewives’ going around the venue placing lacy doilies underneath people’s drinks. Some of my favourites were the silent movie stars. We painted ourselves grey, holding up inter-titles like ‘If you don’t tell me you love me now, I’ll hold my breath until I die!’…” I leave the rest to your imagination.

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Imogen Miller Porter photographed by Martin Slidel

Last year Shambush grabbed national headlines with the Ultimate Kate Bush Experience. Over 350 willing sinners crammed into Brighton’s Stanmer Park, all primed with the ‘Wuthering Heights’ training video that itself became cult viewing. “We made-up stupid names for some of the dance moves such as ‘The Backward Pterodactyl’,” Imogen chuckles, “and now that Kate Bush is doing the Hammersmith Apollo, if she does need 350 backing dancers we know where to find them!” With false diplomacy I ask if she specialises in iconic 1970s female icons of high vocal range. “It does seem that way doesn’t it!” she roars. “Who’s going to be next!” Whoever and wherever the going will be great.

Catch up with Imogen yourself when she performs two sets for the second Playerist Comedy Night at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, on the evening of Thursday May 29.


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