Beat Back The Winter Blahs with Throwdown TheatreSports Festival

Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is getting ready to beat away the winter blahs with laughter during its annual improv celebration, Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival. Taking place at The Improv Centre on Granville Island from January 2 to 27, 2019.

The best antidote to those dreary January days is a good dose of hearty laughter and Vancouver TheatreSports has it in spades.

Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival welcomes TheatreSports teams from other cities to join the top Vancouver improvisers in head-to-head matches with each other.

VTS Artistic & Executive Director Jay Ono adds, “This year, we concentrated on inviting the best teams from the U.S. because later this year [2019] in October, the entire TheatreSports world will be gathering in Vancouver for the 2019 International TheatreSports Institute Conference, which VTS is privileged to host. Throwdown 2019 features fabulous team companies from Honolulu, Bellingham, Portland and returning champs, the talented group from Orlando – who have won for the past three consecutive years.”

From January 2 to 19, local teams comprised of VTS ensemble members play in a classic TheatreSports round-robin competition for bragging rights of the best team in Vancouver. Working from audience suggestions, the players start improvising in hopes of scoring the biggest cheers from audience members. As in all classic TheatreSports matches, the final outcome is determined by audience judges scoring each of the ‘games’ within a match. The team with the most points wins.

January 22 to 27 welcomes the four U.S. teams in a series of hilarious matches and showcases designed to banish even the gloomiest of times. The lineup features: Sak Comedy Lab – Orlando, Florida (returning champions); Curious Comedy Theatre – Portland, Oregon; On the Spot Improv – Honolulu, Hawaii; Upfront Theatre – Bellingham, Washington.

On the last evening of Throwdown, January 27, the winners of the international competitions play with the local victors from the previous weeks in a winner-takes-all laugh fest. 

“There’s nothing like a little healthy competition to bring out the best in improv comedy,” comments Ono. “And the winner gets bragging rights for an entire year plus an invitation to return in 2020 to defend their crown.”

While no one can predict the outcome, one thing is for certain – audience members will be the winners. Arriving with winter weighing them down, and leaving with an added spring in their step after an evening of laughter.

For a full schedule of time, match information and tickets (starting from $10.75) for Throwdown – International TheatreSports Festival,  visit vtsl.com.

Go On A Blind Date at The Arts Club BMO Stage

Just like a true blind date, with Blind Date at The Arts Club Theatre Company BMO Stage what’s about to unfold is a mystery.

The premise of the mainly improvised Blind Date is a blind date between a couple, who don’t know each other.  In this case, they really do not know each other, the male partner is selected from the audience to go on the date with Mimi (played in this performance by Tess Degenstein).   During a pre-show mingle the cast; Degenstein, Lili Beaudoin, Ali Froggatt (who all play Mimi on different nights) and Jeff Gladstone, get to know the audience.  People putting themselves (or being pushed) forward to participate in Blind Date.  Starting out a small cafe the date progresses through the course of the evening.

On this night, recently-married Ben, a 30something construction manager, has been selected, after prodding from wife Megan. The uncomfortable awkwardness that Ben feels makes for some nervous laughter and outright hilarity.  While Mimi asks him about himself, Ben loosens up and shares more about his life, which allows a seasoned improvisor like Tess Degenstein to grab tidbits to keep the play humourously moving along on its loose outline.

As skilled as she is, her scene partner is the key to the success of the show, I’m sure in the 700+ performances the troupe has completed there have been more than a few ‘dates’ that have gone awry.  Anything can happen in improv and in this performance, the quantity of beer that Ben consumed, smartly used to avoid answering or to allow himself time to think of an answer, became part of the show.  Late in the play Ben was forced to make a trip to the washroom, a first amongst Blind Date performances according to Degenstein.

The skill of the cast to improvise and roll with the punches ensures that each night is a fresh and unique performance. Check out Blind Date more than once to find out how different guest performers and different Mimis influence the outcome of your blind date experience.

Blind Date plays until December 30, 2018 at Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, 162 East 1st Avenue. Showtimes and Tickets available online at artsclub.com