Katt Cullen from the Renegade Saints talks about being terrified, the flying trapeze and her favourite place in Geneva.
by Alexandra Osvath
“THREE, TWO, ONE, IMPROV!”
Her eyes bright with excitement, Katt Cullen bounds across the stage with her fellow Renegade Saints. Within seconds, we’re all in hysterics as the Saints work their magic.
Nine members strong, the Renegade Saints have been performing improv (comedy format in which the performers make up the scene on the spot) since 2014. Their usual venue is Mr Pickwick Pub in Geneva, which was a natural choice for their recent 5th anniversary show.
“Improv has always been in me,” Katt grins as we chat. “I always did drama at school, and then earned my BA in Drama and Theatre. Improv was always part of that.”
BROAD KNOWLEDGE OF HISTORY AND CURRENT EVENTS
Hailing from the UK’s south coast and having lived in Annecy, France, for several years, Katt eventually moved closer to the Geneva area and immediately sought out fellow improv enthusiasts when she arrived.
“We were all interested in doing improv in a show context, and at the time there weren’t many English-language improv shows in Geneva,” Katt says. “So we started doing improv together and eventually performing for live audiences, and the Renegade Saints were born.”
They structure their shows around improv games, incorporating suggestions from the audience into each skit. The group has to have a broad knowledge of history and current events to be able to react quickly to the audience’s suggestions.
The Renegade Saints also offer different types of classes, from workshops for businesses and international organisations to regular and drop-in improv acting classes.
“Some of our students have even formed their own improv groups,” Katt proudly tells me. “We love helping our students bond and create their own shows!”
“A SMALL AMOUNT OF TERROR SHOULD BE INVOLVED!”
I ask how come she’s not terrified, performing on-stage with no script and at the mercy of the audience.
“A small amount of terror should be involved! That’s your energy. And at some point, you are going to fail, which is where your teammates come in. We’ve always got each others’ backs. Plus, the audience wants to feel and contribute to a supportive environment,” she explains.
In addition to performing with the Renegade Saints, Katt is on the air with World Radio Switzerland, where she hosts her own daily show called the Mid Morning Mix and co-hosts the breakfast show.
“Improv is key to that too,” Katt tells me. “You have to have pretty broad knowledge – even if you’re no expert in any one particular topic – because you never know what will come up during the show.”
“YOU JUST HAVE TO RIP THE BAND-AID OFF!”
I ask Katt about her hobbies, and she grins. “Well, I used to perform the flying trapeze, which I learned while traveling in Thailand. It was terrifying the first time I tried it, but I’ve learned that the more your heart is pounding, the greater the reward. You just have to rip the band-aid off!”
WHAT KATT LOVES TO DO IN GENEVA
In Geneva, Katt loves swimming at Bains des Pâquis. “The food, prices and setting are great, and I love that there’s always a veggie option!”
NEXT RENEGADE SAINTS SHOW
Come see the Renegade Saints’ next show on April 11th at Mr Pickwick Pub in Geneva (tram stop Butini; 80, Rue de Lausanne). Doors open at 7:30 pm and the show starts at 8. Tickets are CHF10 at the door (cash only).