USask Improv to host first annual festival

By in Culture

The University of Saskatchewan’s Improv team is set to add an additional event to their calendar that will soon become a staple in their yearly plethora of shows.

USask Improv - Jeremy Britz -1
USask Improv is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and meet new friends.

This year will mark the first in which the USask Improv team will hold a festival that will be bringing together several improv groups from Saskatoon and elsewhere. Titled the Good Vibes Festival, it is set to take place from Mar. 16 to 18. Each night will feature a set of shows from not only the U of S team, but also from The Saskatoon Soaps, The No-No’s, The Lady Bits and the University of Alberta and University of Regina improv teams as well.

Improv performances are essentially improvised theatre performances centered around restrictions and suggestions from the audience. Restrictions include not being able to use vowels or not
being able to use certain words, and a staple of improv shows is turning to the audience for suggestions to drive the scenes.

While the general framework of what types of games are performed is decided beforehand, the performance itself is entirely done on the fly and without rehearsal. Performances can be anywhere from a couple of minutes long to longer forms reaching 10 to 20 minutes.

Jeremy Bastian, president of the Usask Improv team and fourth-year marketing major at the Edwards School of Business, explained what the team hopes to achieve with the festival.

“What we want to create at USask Improv is not only a community of improvisers from the U of S, but in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan, and get to know these other improvisers. Each group gets a set where they have pre-arranged for what they want to do. They can do long form or they can do kind of more comedic short form games within those 20 minutes,” Bastian said.

Bethany Flegel, a member of the improv team and first-year arts and science student, spoke on her experience attending the University of Alberta Improv Group’s festival this year with the USask improv team.

“Every single aspect of the festival that we went to was probably one of my best memories from first year university so far. It was cool to meet new people who also do the same thing you do and get to hang out with them,” Flegel said.

In addition to the social aspects of the festivals, it also allows the audience, and the improv teams themselves, to see new approaches to the artform.

“What’s also cool is getting to see the style difference between the improv groups. A group in Edmonton might do improv just a little bit differently than the group from Regina and that’s what makes it so great,” Bastian said.

Bjorn Haave, director of marketing for the improv team, performing member and second-year computer science major, explained the benefits he receives out of being involved with improv.

“The people are so accepting and its very vulnerable. …  They don’t know what they’re doing and you don’t know what they’re doing so if you mess up, it doesn’t really matter. The other part of the artform that I really enjoy is how it forces me to be present. It forces me to be sort of in the moment of my life,” Haave said.

The shows for this festival will be held in the St. Thomas More Auditorium at the U of S, with doors opening at 7:15 p.m., and the show beginning at 7:30. Tickets run at $5 for students and $8 for non-students. Additionally, festival passes are available at $12 for students and $20 otherwise — the passes allow access to every show over the weekend, as well as cover for the afterparty on Mar. 18, which will be held at the Capitol Music Club.

Jack Thompson / Staff Writer

Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor