Organizers of the third annual Paper Street Theatre Improv Festival like the fact the event is growing and gaining an international flair, but is still manageable.
“As far as festivals go it’s small and focused, as opposed to a big board comedy festival,” says festival director Dave Morris. “It’s meant for improvisors and people who love improv.”
The five-day event, all slated to take place at Intrepid Theatre at 1609 Blanshard St. from April 24-28, is as much about learning as performance. And that education will take various forms.
“Up until this point we’ve had guests from the U.S. before, so that’s as international as we got,” says Morris. “This year it’s a huge leap to bring in people from Finland and Sweden as well as some U.S. people from Seattle.”
Attendees need not worry about language barriers when it comes to the on-stage work by the overseas performers, he notes. “The guests that we’re bringing in are very fluent in English, although we will play with language through the festival I’m sure.”
The idea of having improvisors from around the world gather to workshop their craft then perform together in the evenings is a way of looking beyond comedy and viewing improv more as theatre, Morris says.
He explains that improv in North America was a product of sketch comedy, while in Europe it branched off from the theatre.
With two performances a night for five nights, the festival is packed with creativity. Audiences can enjoy shows from 4and20 Improv from Seattle, GBG Impro from Sweden, Kaisa Kokko from Finland as well as Paper Street’s award-winning improv and performances from the Festival Ensemble. And don’t forget Paper Street’s famous Late Night Mash-Up shows.
Paper Street raised about $3,000 with its Improvisathon event earlier this year to help stage the festival.
Full festival passes are $50 but single show tickets will be available. The schedule and ticket information can be found at paperstreettheatre.ca/festival.html.