Vancouver Improv Fest Commits to Laughs and Discourse in Difficult Times

The Vancouver Improv Festival, one of North America’s longest-running improv festivals, is going virtual this year due to concerns surrounding the global pandemic. Running from September 30 to October 4, organizers have decided to hold the festival online and explore the possibilities of improvisation in a digital space.

 

This year, the event will feature shows streaming live on the Vancouver Improv Fest YouTube channel, student workshops via Zoom, and a panel discussion on the decolonization of the improv stage and supporting BIPOC voices. 

“It was a tough decision whether to postpone the festival this year or to continue with an online format,” says Vancouver Improv Festival Organizer Amy Shostak. “We looked to our core values and decided it’s our responsibility to support this art form and to support local, national, and international improv artists by finding a new way to proceed with the festival.” In an art form that is spontaneous and can speak to the moment, it’s time to talk about centring BIPOC and other marginalized people on our stages. Our audiences need to see themselves represented more often and we need to share varied perspectives on the world,” says Shostak. 

 

Festival Line-Up

Festival Ensemble
For decades, the Vancouver Improv Festival has been known for fostering collaboration between individual improvisers in the Festival Ensemble. Directed by Austin, Texas-based improviser Shannon Stoff, this year’s ensemble will see eight improvisers (six local, one national, and one international) performing on the virtual stage.

Showtimes:
Thursday, Oct 1, 7 pm PST
Saturday, Oct 3, 7 pm PST

 

Folk Lordz
Taking inspiration from Indigenous oral tradition, Russian Chekhovian character drama, and a third genre of the audience’s choosing, Folk Lordz (Ben Gorodetsky & Todd Houseman) craft a spontaneous and hilarious homage to cultural storytelling practices. Based on a suggestion gathered via social media, Ben and Todd will weave together a unique, site-specific, improv show.

Showtime:
Friday, Oct 2, 7 pm PST


Panel 2020: Decolonization and Improv
Each year, the festival holds a professional development panel for artists to discuss challenges affecting their communities. Facilitated by Todd Houseman, this year’s panel will discuss decolonization and its intersections in the improv art form, both on and off stage. Panelists will address how and where improvements have been made and how best to support BIPOC’s voices on the stage.

Time:
Saturday, Oct 3, 2 pm to 4 pm PST
Streamed live on the Vancouver Improv Fest Youtube Page

 

Workshops

  • Sept 30 – Devious Villians, Improvised Devilishly with Curt Da Silva
  • Oct 1 – Oral History and Improvisation with Todd Houseman
  • Oct 2 – Mind Reading for Improvisors with Shannon Stott
  • Oct 3 – How to be really kind and really mean with Lena Breuer and Nick Maaß
  • Oct 4 – Improvised (Digital) Physicality with Ben Gorodetsky
  • Oct 4 – Delve In! with Ese Atawo

Sharon Stott

To register for workshops, visit vancouverimprovfest.com/workshops.

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