Q&A with Henry Lewis, Mischief Theatre's Artistic Director

Tue 12 Jun 2018

Direct from the West End, the multi award-winning company behind the global smash hit comedy The Play That Goes Wrong, are back on tour and returning to their comedy roots with Mischief Movie Night, the improvised movie live on stage.

We chatted to Henry Lewis, Artistic Director of Mischief Theatre ahead of their visit to Leicester.

Readers will be familiar with your multi award-winning comedy The Play That Goes Wrong which has become a global phenomenon, currently playing on Broadway, in the West End and touring the UK (and returning to Curve in September!). How would you describe Mischief Movie Night to new audiences?

Mischief Movie Night is one of the first shows Mischief Theatre produced, it’s completely unscripted, unplanned and anything can happen! 75mins of hilarious movie magic based on the audience’s suggestions.

You’ve performed the show at the Edinburgh Festival in past years and have recently enjoyed a West End run, how does it feel to be back on stage again?

It’s fab, performing in our live shows is and always has been one of my favourite bits of the job. Mischief Theatre has enabled me to work with my closest friends and we have a really unique chemistry on stage. It’s a real privilege few get to realise.

The show involves audience participation, inviting suggestions for film genres, titles and storylines with everyone voting for the best ideas. Do you have a favourite?

There have been so many! We once did a movie called Hot Steamy Cardinals – great title!

Tell us your three top tips for improv beginners?

Listen. Make the other people on stage with you look good. Have fun.

You write and perform. Which do you prefer and why?

I truly love both and couldn’t pick between them.

Who’s your comedy inspiration?

I love a lot of classic British comedy, from Fawlty Towers to Blackadder, Monty Python, Victoria Wood, I also love Airplane!, Extras and Frasier and have recently have become a huge fan of Patton Oswalt.

It’s 10 years since you first set up Mischief Theatre with fellow LAMDA graduates, Josh Elliott, Dave Hearn, Harry Kershaw. Tell us how it all began?

In our first year at LAMDA we got together and created a show to take up to the Edinburgh Festival, which was to become the first of eight Edinburgh Festivals that Mischief would do. We did a lot of improvised work in London while we were still at drama school and then started doing more scripted stuff when we graduated. It was very low key at first. We just got together at weekends and because we all enjoyed comedy and improv, we began developing a show and the rest is history.

What’s the secret to Mischief’s success?

If there is one… it’s probably to work hard and love what you do.

What’s next for Mischief Theatre?

The Comedy About a Bank Robbery is touring the UK from August until Spring 2019; The Play that Goes Wrong is touring the UK right now – stopping off at Curve in September – and the USA and Canada for a whole year, plus international replica productions of the show are about to open in Mexico, South Korea and Russia. Peter Pan Goes Wrong is touring Australia and New Zealand from November.

In terms of new projects, we’ve got a few in the pipeline, both TV and live stage shows both here, and in the US, which are all quite secret for now!

Mischief Movie Night is running this week from Thu 14 – Sat 16 Jun, book your tickets here.

The Play That Goes Wrong comes to Curve from Mon 3 – Sat 8 Sep, book your tickets here.

Henry Lewis, Performer and Artistic Director of Mischief Theatre