Q: When and how did you, Ashley, Karen, and Alistair form The Lusty Mannequins? Did you all work together before the group joined forces?
A: Ashley and I first started the Lusty Mannequins out of the Second City Conservatory way back in 2008. It was just the two of us for a while (we had also just started dating...) until Ashley got Second City main stage, which is a full time job and prevents you from doing any other performing, really. Shortly after she left, I got main stage. So from about 2011-2015 the Lusty Mannequins were on an unofficial hiatus. In 2015 Ashley and I started performing together again, and we did a festival in Dublin, Ireland. Karen came along. She had done main stage a bit before us, but we knew her from the community. Then in 2016 we went to Cape Town, South Africa, where Ashley had co-founded an improv festival. Alastair came along. He had been in Ashley’s main stage casts, and I had been his understudy. We loved travelling and performing with both of them, so we decided to expand the LMs from two to four.
Q: The four of you are coming to Bobcaygeon right after performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. First of all, tell us about your experience at the Festival and how the audience there received your show, Uncommonwealth. Is there a favourite moment from your performance that you can share?
A: The Fringe was a wild experience. It was wonderful. It was challenging. It was thrilling and exhausting. We met some wonderful people and saw some wonderful shows (and lived in a wonderful city - Edinburgh is amazing!). Our show, UNCOMMONWEALTH, was very well received. Better than we expected, actually! As a new act coming from North America you set your expectations fairly low. But people came out, we had a few sell-out shows, and generally we were always performing to big, happy audiences. Bigger than we thought we’d get, anyway! Hard to choose one favourite moment, but the room was very hot and it takes time for your body to get used to playing in that sort of environment, so there were a few shows where we were all just drenched in sweat. Like, disgustingly sweaty. Me in particular. And we would all look at each other on stage, covered in sweat, and you could see in each other’s eyes how gross we felt and how much fun we were having. Those moments are memorable, where you just kind of shrug and put aside how gross you feel and say: this is what it is, and we’re just going to do this and be sweaty. (Hopefully we will not be that sweaty at the LAB, but who knows...?)
Q: Now we are so lucky to be having you and the other Lusty Mannequins at Globus Theatre. You’ve performed here as an actor in shows before. Can you share how your relationship with Globus Theatre started and why you keep coming back to our beautiful town?
A: My relationship with Globus started (if memory serves) with a couple of improv shows with the Bad Dog Theatre. From there I did a couple murder mysteries, and then I started doing some summer shows. I keep coming back there because, mainly, James and Sarah are so warm and wonderful and run such a fantastic theatre that any actor would be lucky to work with them. Their shows are so much fun, and they treat their actors (and front of house, and bar staff, and box office...everyone really) so well. And how can you argue with a month of the summer spent in cottage country?
Q: Growing up, did you always want to be a comedic performer? Why did you choose Sketch Comedy?
A: I didn’t always want to be a performer, let alone a comedic one. But I do think there might have been some signs along the way. For example in high school (and even in university when I could get away with it), if a project allowed for something a little more creative, like a sketch, I would always take that route. But I didn’t really start thinking of this as a career until I started taking classes at Second City. I went through the program, eventually got hired to work for them, and the rest is history.
Q: What is the writing process like for The Lusty Mannequins? Do you take turns writing or do you make it up together?
A: The writing process for the LMs is both individual and collaborative. Sometimes we write together through improvisation (much like Second City does) and sometimes we bring in pre-written scripts that we’ve worked on by ourselves. Always we hone and work together on the scenes - almost never is a script brought in finished and ready. No one is precious about their ideas, and we all have the attitude that four brains are better than one, so no matter who’s premise it was or who wrote the scene originally, there is a little bit of everyone in each scene.
Connor Thompson Bio
Connor is an actor, writer, and improvisor originally from Grey County, Ontario. He wrote and starred in three Second City Toronto mainstage revues, garnering a Canadian Comedy Award and a Dora Award nomination. With his troupe the Lusty Mannequins he has taught and performed improv the world over, including festivals in Copenhagen, Cape Town, Detroit, London, Barcelona, and Athens. Select theatre credits include: Funny Farmers (Globus Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stones In His Pockets (Festival Players of Prince Edward County). TV and film: Cracked (CBC), Good Witch (Hallmark), Odd Squad (PBS), Tallboyz (CBC). With love to Ashley and Toby and his family.