When you hear stories about a memorable concert, movie scene or even night out with friends the best moments are often described as totally unplanned, “it was all improvised!” We laugh the hardest are when we are surprised and, at an improv show, this is your entire experience. Improv has gained great popularity since programs like Whose Line is it Anyway?, hosted by Colin Mochrie, who will be in attendance for the sixth year of this festival, made it to the mainstream.
Forty years ago, Keith Johnstone moved to Calgary to teach theatre, co-founded the Loose Moose theatre group and developed what is now known as Theatresports, a competition for dramatic effect where theatre troupes face off and perform scenes based on audience suggestions, with ratings by the audience or by a panel of judges. Calgary has therefore become an important place in the comedy world and is said to be a city with some of the longest improv history.
From September 18th to 29th, theatre teams from all over the world will be here. A few to watch for are Joe Bill and Mark Sutton’s “Bassprov,” from Chicago, about two guys drinking beer and fishing, storytelling, debating and offering insights on modern times. Another, “The Sound of Improv,” will appeal to music lovers, as an improvised version of Hamlet and, of course the highly-dramatic recent favourite “Dirty Laundry” improv soap opera.
On September 28th, a few guests will have the rare chance to see Colin Mochrie perform an intimate show at “A Very Funny Fundraiser.” Ticket holders will also have access to the Improv Guild’s 10th anniversary party for music, food and mingling with all the actors. Proceeds will go to the Improv Guild for flood recovery. If you aren’t one of the lucky 60 people that can get a ticket to this party (for only $40!) you can still get a chance to see Colin Mochrie the next night at the Jack Singer concert hall.
The Calgary Improv Festival runs from September 18 to 29. Follow @improvguild on Twitter and on Facebook for schedules of classes, updates about shows and events and to see tweets during the festival.
By Gavin Velour
Photo: Kevin McShane