Vancouver TheatreSports Welcomes the World of Improv

A world of laughter is coming to Vancouver from October 14 to 20 as Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) hosts the 2019 International Theatresports Institute Conference and Festival

The International Theatresports Institute (ITI) is the largest improv network in the world, representing 90 improv companies, schools and universities from 22 countries on six continents. Every two years, ITI convenes a conference and festival that brings together improvisers from around the globe.

In addition to delegate-only workshops, the week includes more than 50 public performances in an International Theatresports Festival across three Granville Island venues – VTS’ home theatre The Improv Centre, The Waterfront Theatre, and intimate studio space The Nest. 

Currently, improvisers from as far away as India, Norway, Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand have signed up to attend the week-long Vancouver conference and perform in the Festival.

The Festival celebrates how the improv art form has evolved around the world to reflect the influences it receives from different cultural terroirs, showcasing signature shows/formats by some of the world’s leading improvisers and improv companies. 

The Toys Strike Back

One of the signature shows, The Toys Strike Back, by Norway’s Det Andre Teatret – a matinee show for families with children – creates its content from the toys that the kids bring with them to the performance. Another show, Lugares (Places), originally created by an international team of improvisers, will be directed in Vancouver by Patti Stiles (Australia) and Felipe Ortiz (Colombia).  Lugares invites members of the audience to describe a special setting and the cast creates exciting new stories and parallel worlds that will change the way we see the special places around us. For the El Jaguar Fiesta Tour of Vancouver, the audience jumps on a bus with masked Mexican luchador El Jaguar (Derek Flores, New Zealand) for a hilarious tour of the city where the focus is on fiesta, not facts. OK Tinder brings together a cast made up of VTS ensemble members and international delegates for a global take on the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of dating in the digital age. The Theatresports Summit explores the Theatresports format in the ‘four pillar’ companies – from Calgary’s Loose Moose Theatre, to variations as performed at Vancouver TheatreSports (Vancouver), Rapid Fire Theatre (Edmonton), and Unexpected Productions (Seattle). 

El Jaguar Fiesta Tour of Vancouver

“Vancouver TheatreSports turns 40 in early 2020 and we are excited to kick off our anniversary celebrations by sharing so much laughter with the people of Vancouver,” says Artistic & Executive Director Jay Ono. “It will be a fabulous opportunity for the public to see the different styles of improv as performed by the visiting delegates. Many Vancouverites do not realize that VTS is renowned globally as being a leader in the improv art form, with some of the best improvisers in the world being part of our company. It will be inspiring and instructive for all the improvisers, our own as well as the international delegates, to perform together and explore new formats and ways of playing. At the same time, the public will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see companies and improvisers who do not normally perform outside of their home country.”

For the full lineup of all the Festival shows; descriptions, locations, dates, and times visit vtsl.com/iti-conference/overview

Head Back To School with VTS

Those three words that every student dreads…Back To School…usually mean summer fun is coming to an end. However, this season Vancouver TheatreSports (VTS) is kick starting the fun with some back to school style laughter.

Back to School Theatresports comes to The Improv Centre on Granville Island, Tuesdays to Saturdays from September 3 to October 12.

VTS Back to School

VTS helps get you over the end of summer blues with this special improv show dedicated to school days. Back to School TheatreSports takes classic TheatreSports short form improv ‘games’ and adapts them to parody classroom clichés and cliques. Instead of a traditional TheatreSports referee, the improv comedy will be overseen by a dreaded, and very strict principal. Rule infractions can spell player ‘detentions’ and the teams of mixed student stereotypes (geeks, jocks, cool kids, etc) will be awarded letter grades by a critical panel of examiners (audience members). By the end of class (the match), only one team will reach a passing grade. 

As in all VTS shows, the characters and action are interactive as the players co-developed with the audience – taking their (sometimes wildly outlandish) suggestions to create on-the-spot, unscripted, theatrically-infused comedy. In this case, the players will be improvising using the audience’s school-themed ideas to create the scenarios like; awkward first dates, trying out for the team or cramming for exams. Regardless of whether you are/were a jock, a nerd or one of the cool kids at school, everyone will be able to relate and find something to laugh about at Back to School TheatreSports.

Back to School Theatresports plays Tuesdays to Saturdays from September 3 to October 12. 2019 at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. For showtimes, other shows, more information on Vancouver TheatreSports, and to purchase advance tickets, starting at a student-budget friendly $10.75, please visit vtsl.com.

Queer Arts Festival celebrate rEvolution

The 11th Annual Queer Arts Festival (QAF) opens June 17th, celebrating Vancouver’s queer arts, culture and history. Themed rEvolution, QAF 2019 closes on June 28th, the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots which fittingly brought together the queer artists in New York’s Greenwich Village to push back against oppression.

As it’s done for the last decade Queer Arts Festival brings together another line up of stellar parties, artists and events. Multimedia, performing and traditional visual works from emerging and established artists come together at Roundhouse Community Centre.

Art Party! on June 18th features the QAF curated, by Curator Elwood Jimmy, Relational rEvolution exhibition which kicks off the Festival. Guests can also catch a glimpse of the other exhibitions, events and performance that make up the 2019 line up.

Closing on June 28th, QAF features a performance of the Queer Songbook Orchestra before celebrating the half-century since the Stonewall riots, and the start of the modern pride movement, with Stonewall 50 Glitter is Forever. The Vancouver Pride Society, ZeeZee Theatre and The Frank Theatre come together to revel in the queer rEvolution.

Queer Arts Festival runs June 17 – 28, 2019, centred on the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. For full details of the 2019 line-up and ticket information visit queerartsfestival.com

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.

10 Halloween Frights for Vancouver Families

Halloween is just around the corner; leaves crunching underfoot, jack o’lanterns are carved, costumes are being prepared, candy is being stockpiled in anticipation of trick or treating.

Get a chill when you take on these frightening (and mostly family friendly) Halloween in Vancouver.

  1. Fright Nights at Playland: Vancouver’s favourite fear fest, is on until October 31st, the annual Playland event is loaded with haunted houses and thrilling rides, but not for the younger members of the family. 
  2. Halloween at Fly Over Canada: Join Broomelda as she welcomes you to her Witch Academy before swooping across the country with her at Fly Over Canada until October 31st.
  3. Haunted Halloween Vancouver Trolley Tour: Spend 2.5 hours exploring the stories behind the city’s most haunted spots; Shaughnessy mansions, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver Police Museum morgue are just some of the ghost tales you’ll hear on the nightly Trolley Tours, until Halloween Night.
  4. Glow In The Garden: VanDusen Garden invites guests to wander through a whimsical garden with curious twists and magical moments from the classic tale Hänsel and Gretel, until October 31st.
  5. Stanley Park Ghost Train: Join Jack O’Lanterns journey through the dark forest and experience a Celtic Halloween, at the Stanley Park Ghost Train, book tickets until October 31st
  6. Haunted Village at Burnaby Village Museum:  Visit Burnaby Village under cover of night from October 26 to 29, 2018. Wear your costumes, and blend in with the witches, ghosts and other characters as you trick or treat through the village
  7. Harvest Glow: Until November 5th, Milner Gardens in Langley has become the ultimate family harvest festival; pumpkin patch, corn maze, pumpkin carving, Harvest Market with 20+ merchants.
  8. Lost Souls of Gastown: Join Forbidden Vancouver on a historic and theatrical walk through the dark side of Vancouver’s early days, nightly until Halloween.
  9. Spooktober: Vancouver Theatresports League has a spooktacular line-up of Halloween themed shows throughout the month; Monster Mashes, Cult Fiction, Scared Witless, WFT-What the Fright.
  10. Parade of Lost Souls: The east side tradition returns on October 27th, starting with the Parade of Little Souls at 7pm, followed by the Parade of Lost Souls at 8pm. Keep watching for the parade route to be announced at midnight prior to the parade.

Picks of the Week – September 12, 2018

While we wouldn’t know it by the weather, we still have just over a week of summer left (officially) so let’s try to make the most of it with some of these entertainment picks

Bard Village

Bard: The 2018 season of Bard on the Beach is rapidly drawing to a close, the classic drama Macbeth on the Mainstage and Lysistrata on the Howard Family Stage, close tomorrow while extra shows have been added to the run of the brilliant Beatles themed version of As You Like It,  now closing Sep 28th.

Dog: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opens the Arts Club Theatre Company’s season at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage until October 7th.

Fringe: It’s the final week for 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival and your chance to catch the cutting edge theatre and entertainment all around town.

Comedy: Aussie stand-by comic Jim Jefferies brings laughter to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage for three shows this weekend; Friday night at 7pm and 10pm, Saturday night at 8pm

L to R: Beatrice Zeilinger, Lynda Boyd and Nicola Cavendish
photo: David Cooper

Sisters: Take a drive and enjoy a trio of brilliant performances in the 20th Anniversary presentation of Daniel MacIvor’s acclaimed play Marion Bridge, at Kay Meeks Arts Centre in West Vancouver until September 20th.

Park: The Festival Lawn at Deer Lake Park welcomes Ms Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary Tour, on Saturday evening.

Open: Saturday, the Scotiabank Dance Centre Open House welcomes the public to explore all the dance companies that inhabit the Centre.

Market: Viva Mexico! Saturday from 11:30am – 8pm at Robson Square, explore Market Mexico, learn about the destination, culture and entertainment of Mexico.

Soul: American Gospel/Soul singer Leon Bridges comes to the PNE Amphitheatre on Sunday September 16

Improv: “Laugh til your face hurts” and lampoon the hysteria of the Back to School season at Vancouver Theatresports League , also check out the other laugh-filled show like the late night show WTF – What The Fun!

Fest: Westward Music Festival takes over music venues all around downtown Vancouver for four days of entertainment September 13-16.

Charity: Saturday watch stars from sports and TV, like Patrick Chan, Daniel & Henrik Sedin, the cast of Riverdale, Once Upon A Time, and The 100, take to the pitch at BC Place alongside Whitecaps legends in the annual Legends & Stars charity match supporting BC Children’s Hospital

Kicks: After the Legends & Stars match, stick around as Whitecaps FC play host to Cascadia Rivals Seattle in what’s sure to be a raucous afternoon.

Disco: Dance away the last days of disco  summer at Public Disco in the recently refreshed Ackery’s Alley (next to Orpheum Theatre). Enjoy the music on Saturday from 1pm – 8pm

 

Picks of the Week – September 5, 2018

As we move past Labour Day, and people head back to school and work, it’s easy to think summer is over, but we still have a couple weeks to go, so let’s keep it going with these picks.

Bard: There’s just days left for some of the shows at Bard on the Beach 2018.  Make your picks between a brilliant Beatles themed version of As You Like It,  or the dramatic Macbeth on the Mainstage, and find Timon of Athens or Lysistrata on the Howard Family Stage, all wrapping up in the next week.

Fringe Fest: Midtwenties Theatre Society – The Bitter Tears Of Petra Von Kant

Fringe: The 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival opens Thursday, bringing 11 days of cutting edge theatre and entertainment all around town.

Punt: The BC Lions return to BC Place to host Ottawa Redblacks on Friday night

Park: The much anticipated Skookum Festival makes its debut at Stanley Park this weekend,  bringing 3 days of music, food, & art to Brockton Oval & Meadow featuring Florence & The Machine, The Killers, Metric, Arkells, Stereophonics, X Ambassadors and more.

Cycle: This weekend watch for the RBC Gran Fondo, North America’s largest, to bring masses of cyclists to the sea-to-sky.

Sisters: Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Daniel MacIvor’s acclaimed play Marion Bridge, at Kay Meeks Arts Centre in West Vancouver until September 20th.

Things: The Museum of Vancouver’s exhibit Wild Things: The Power of Nature in Our Lives,  brings the great outdoors, indoors to take a look at the relationship between local plants and animals and the people and places in the city, showing until 2019

Inked: The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art examines the deep-rooted traditions of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment, in BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest  an exhibit curated by Dion Kaszas of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation, until January 2019

Emilio Suarez plays Tyrant Studio Friday Jazz, September 7

Lounge: The Tyrant Studios continues their Friday Jazz and Saturday Night Comedy Series into September

Rock: After cancelling a series of shows due to illness, the Foo Fighters return to the stage in Vancouver on Saturday night at Rogers Arena

Cabin: Take a trip to the cabin while staying indoors, at the Vancouver Art Gallery as Cabin Fever  an exhibit tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view until September 30, 2018

Laugh:  Head Back to School with laughter as Vancouver Theatresports League lampoons the classroom, also check out the other laugh-filled show like the late night show WTF – What The Fun!