In the first of our London Cheapo Meets series, we chat to improv coach Kayleigh Cassidy, who is living in London for the first time after living in Barcelona, and the south coast of England. She shares the ups and downs of adjusting to the first couple of months in the city, tips for being less wasteful, and unexpected adventures in the supermarket.
Tell us about yourself in a few sentences?
I am a silly billy addicted to the good times. I try and exist in every moment as I feel whether that is happy, sad or tired. I act, write, direct, bake, walk, clean, ride, play and serve pints.
What made you decide to move to London?
I had been thinking about moving to London for a couple of years, but always put it off. Life in Barcelona was easy, free, and wonderful so it was just easier to stay there. But last year I kind of took the plunge and did it….my boss said to me when I told her I was leaving: ‘You’re making a mistake. In London you’ll be a tiny fish in a big pond, here you’re a big fish in a small pond, think about it.’ It really made me angry. What’s the point in existing in a space, just because you fill it? So, despite comments like that, mixed with the fears I already had, I packed my bags and left. I moved to London because I wanted to be surrounded by opportunity and creativity.
What is your impression of London life so far?
I love London, so far, so good. But, it is expensive and at times anti-social and I have found it hard in terms of the price of living. Rent is three times as much as it was in Barcelona, and everything costs more, but I feel like it’s worth it and it’s a good investment as the flavour and vibe of the city is just so wonderful and exciting. Sometimes with the distance your friends live from you, it can be quite a lonely place to live.
I gather you live by some frugal principles like only buying what you need, walking and cycling everywhere, can you tell me what prompted that?
I walked El Camino Santiago last November. I walked from France: St Jean Pied De Port all the way to Santiago which is about 800 km. I wore the same clothes every day, slept in basic Albergues (Spanish hostels for Pilgrims) sharing with up to 200 strangers and eating a basic travelling diet. Every day I woke up and I walked. I made the whole trip in silence which meant I could only talk once I had finished my walking for the day and checked into the Albergue. Really this was super encouraging as to how to live life in every dayI quickly realised that I had enough clothes, I didn’t need to buy anymore. I didn’t need to eat out all the time but I could make my own bread and lunches myself.
After walking the camino while I was transitioning to London I was living in my hometown of Torquay, I adopted this create over consume philosophy. I love it. It injects so much creativity into everything I do. The thing I do spend money on is alcohol, like to socialise and have a drink, so I mean it’s nice to spend money on being merry. I just hate waste and I don’t like stuff. If I have it I try and use it.
Can you tell me a couple of things you like and dislike about London?
I like the variety of events that you can attend, free or paid. I love Hyde Park and how much fun it can be to just walk around (in the sun). I like the integration of everybody and how multicultural it is. I like the vibrancy and the connections which you can make, how easy it is to get around and the difference in each area. I don’t like the rudeness of people who are waiting for coffee and need their coffee super fast, I don’t like how impatient everybody seems to be on a daily basis. .I also don’t like the price of living, I wish it was cheaper.
What tips would you give to anyone else who is thinking of moving to London?
Tell people you are thinking about doing it. I found my room because my friend needed someone to take over her room while she went on tour for a couple of months. If it wasn’t for that incentive, it may have taken me longer to get here. Being open about what you want and using social media as a way to let people know can be very helpful. And then just do it! It’s not so big and it’s not so bad, a place is what you make of it and London has lots of little pockets where you can hide if the big smoke gets too much. A lot of people worry about money, even though money never worries about them, be prepared to work hard and live on the basics. You don’t need lots of stuff, and if you do, then people are always throwing stuff away. Most of my amazing jumpers were going into a bin when I saved them.
Any interesting experiences to share from your time in London so far?
Lots and lots! I really enjoy the people I meet, so I’ll pick my chance encounter with The Field an art space near Queens Road Peckham. I was walking from Greenwich to Herne Hill, and I was starving. I had dropped into the Deptford Asda but all the food was on the floor, and looked pretty limp with no reductions. I base my diet on freezing food from the reduced sections. So I was carrying on home when I saw this space The Field outside it said ‘Tonight community dinner, donation based’ I walked to the sign and started looking at it, intrigued. Before I could say no, a beautiful lady called me inside and sat me down. ‘Hello! These people are on their own as well, sit together, talk.’ It was the best chance experience ever, and encased everything I wanted. Homemade curry, breads and salads and coffee and donuts all to be shared by The Field community. I tend to eat alone in London, so it was really nice to eat with other people, strangers and hear their stories….it reminded me of the Camino and how I never ate alone while I was on the pilgrimage.
Tell us a bit about your work as an improv coach & comedy performer?
Improvisation is such an inspiring part of my life, and I couldn’t for sure live without it. I spend a lot of time in my head in real life worrying and thinking about the past that I find the mechanics of improvisation liberating. I can get out of my head and just play and be free. I started out as a performer taking classes at international festivals and studying in Chicago and New York. Once I felt like I had a philosophy, I started.
I worked with B.I.G (Barcelona Improvisation group) for over three years teaching short form and long form techniques to expats while teaching musical and silent improvisation workshops for a little Improv School I created on the side: The Electrons. They were the most wonderful group of people to work with. They came from all walks of life and from every corner of the world and they were always addicted to finding the joy in every moment. Improv is a great practice in letting things go. Something I’m still practising as I preach.
Where can we attend one of your improv events?
I am teaching a one-off workshop called Always With Pleasure on May the 15th. A workshop that looks at getting people out of their heads and into their bodies, making bold choices and playing fort the enjoyment of who you are around: being a big kid!
At the moment, I’m still getting settled but I’m hoping to get a new team of Electrons together to coach and carry on teaching workshops all of which support, encourage and strengthen focus for performers and general well-being in life.
Follow Kayleigh on Twitter @MawkishMagpie for updates on her adventures in improv