(This story is sponsored by Vancouver TheatreSports.)
Anyone who is familiar with theatresports knows that it’s the quick-witted, fast-paced, sprint race of the comedy world—and there’s nothing about it that’s predictable. The improv format was created in Calgary by Keith Johnstone in the 1970s and has since become one of the most popular comedy art forms because it’s always high-energy, hilarious, and very entertaining.
Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) was one of the first improv companies in the world when it opened in 1980. It boasts some of the industry’s most famous veterans, including Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, Veena Sood, Nancy Robertson, Dean Haglund, and Richard Side—to name but a few.
The company performs 11 to 13 shows per week, 52 weeks a year, in its purpose-built theatre, The Improv Centre on Granville Island (1502 Duranleau Street). There is a bar on-site so audience members are welcome to enjoy a drink before and during the performance.
Part of the magic of improv is that even seasoned attendees can always expect something different, since the actors rely on audience suggestions to move the action forward. In fact, in the world of theatre, improvisers are often considered as the daredevils of acting due its impromptu nature. To be successful, they have to write their own scripts, direct themselves, and perform in character—all in the moment.
As VTS enters its 40th year of making people laugh in 2020, it has a lot more to smile about. The theatre company just won Best Improv Troupe or Company in the Straight’s Best of Vancouver (BOV) readers’ choice awards. It will also be hosting the 2019 International Theatresports Institute’s Conference and Festival from October 14 to 20.
The event, which is put on by the International TheatreSports Institute, takes place every two years and is the biggest of its kind. In the past it has been held in Dubai and Milan, and its professional development conference attracts improv actors and companies from all over the world.
In addition to the conference, there is a festival, which is open to the public and involves 39 shows over six days in three venues. More than 100 improvisers will come to Vancouver and appear in shows alongside VTS ensemble actors.
In addition to performing improv, VTS teaches other high-level acting skills at its Improv Comedy Institute. There is also a corporate training division, Improv For Business, which gives tailored workshops in categories such as team building, leadership, and presentations.