Victoria’s only improv studio opened its doors recently and gives performers a space to practice their storytelling skills with a growing community of improvisors on the Island.
The Paper Street Studio opened in March on Fort Street after owner Dave Morris set up an online fundraising campaign that rocketed them to their $8,000 goal in only two days.
“Having a studio was always a dream, having a space where we can work, write and teach,” said Morris, a professional improv performer who moved to Victoria five years ago.
“Looking at people who gave to the campaign — many were past students of mine, who have already benefitted from having improv in their lives and also a lot of them wanted to see it grow. We’ve built a community across the country. It was one of those moments were the community was like ‘let’s do it’.”
After a few short months of renovations, the former vintage clothing shop was transformed into Victoria’s first dedicated improv studio.
And they’ve already gathered a following with roughly 30 to 60 students of all ages attending classes where they learn skills such as listening, building on other people’s ideas, storytelling and how to have fun.
“There is no right or wrong thing to do, there’s nothing better or worse to do as long as you do something and commit to it, it can be great,” he said.
According to Morris, improv is a rapidly growing community on Vancouver Island.
“In the last three or four years, it’s started to boom. We’re going from a small to medium (communities) and I think the studio opening is going to help that a lot,” he said, noting that many of his former students are going out and doing their own shows now.
“That’s the goal of the studio — to share the knowledge and expand the community.”
Andrew Brimmell has been improvising with Dave for the past two years.
“It goes seem like it’s becoming a bit of a bigger thing, new groups are popping up and even his classes are growing pretty rapidly,” said Brimmell. “When you think of theatre, it’s fun but serious. With improv, it’s pure play and pure fun . . . and takes you back to being a kid.”
For more information on classes, visit paperstreettheatre.ca.