During the last few years, Dave Morris has noticed what he calls a wonderful thing — Victoria’s improv scene is growing.
At least five separate improv groups are now operating in the city, according to Morris, and the scene continues to get bigger every day.
“It’s gaining momentum,” said Morris, director of Paper Street Theatre Co., which is now in its sixth year. “There’s something about when you’re watching an improv scene and you know they are making it up in that moment and you are there to witness that, that you can’t get anywhere else, especially in today’s world where everyone can stream everything they want on their phone.”
Morris attributes the growth in the city’s improv (which has the plot, characters and dialogue of a scene made up on the spot) scene to two things — Paper Street’s improv class, which has been running for a few years, producing a number of performers now looking for shows or starting their own groups, and Paper Street’s annual improv festival.
Now in its second year, this year’s five-day festival at the end of the month features Chris and Travis, an improv duo from Vancouver, Meags Fitzgerald from Montreal and Portland’s Deep End Theatre. The festival also features late night mash-ups, intimate workshops with each of the guest improvisers, and performances by the festival ensemble.
One show Morris is looking forward to the most is Midnight’s Curtain, which plays homage to the pulp tales found in the pages of magazines like Astounding Stories or Tales of Wonder. Directed by Travis Bernhardt from Vancouver, the festival ensemble will tell two short stories that explore the novelty, ideas, scares, absurd science and cheap thrills of vintage pulp horror.
“Paper Street has always been a fan of shaping improv to be more theatrical, not just comedy. This show specifically is designed to creep people out and scare people a little bit,” said Morris. “I love shows that give the audience a feeling other than just humour and fun, that scares them a little and makes them think a little different.”
The Paper Street Theatre Improv Festival takes place April 25 to 29 at Intrepid Theatre and includes two shows each night. For more information visit paperstreettheatre.ca.