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Schools across Canada come together for improv festival

The Notorious Improv Festival
Jan. 20-Jan. 23rd
CCIS 1-430 (Wednesday) CCIS 1-440 (Thursday) Education North N2-115 (Friday) City Arts Center 10943 84 Ave (Saturday)
By donation ($3-$5 suggested)

The University Improv Group will be hosting its fifth, and largest ever, Annual Festival next week.

Improv groups from eight different schools will be joining the UIG in the fifth Annual Festival, along with two different private companies: The Hitchhikers of Regina and Rumble Pak of Winnipeg. The higher number of performing groups gives this year’s show to be bigger and better, workshop instructor Quinn Contini says.

Patrons, in short, can expect a good night out. This year’s festival features a wide variety of improv sets, including a Christopher Guest inspired mockumentary set, a battle royale comprised of slow-motion fight scenes, and an improv musical. Besides making for a great show, bringing these different improv groups makes for an opportunity to “jam out some ideas together,” Contini says.

“The biggest thing I want to do is push it,” he says. “Just go to the next level, and see how much further we can go from last year.”

Arts-Supplied-Improv-Fest-2Supplied — Hannah Quimper-Swiderski

The audience will also have an opportunity for involvement in some of the Annual Festival’s sets. One of this year’s interactive sets is Tinder Prof, where the audience collectively swipes on characters to match them. Last year, the audience matched a bird and a mop. This year’s Tinder Prof will be bigger, with a wider range of objects and characters for the audience to choose from, promotions executive Dylan Sharp says.

“I’m really looking forward to keeping that high, romantic energy going,” he says.

Once the audience chooses the match, the improvisers tell the story of the following first date, marriage and, perhaps, divorce.

The UIG’s goal for the weekend is to build on its presence as a club at the University of Alberta and as an improv group in Edmonton. The club embraces failure as a source for learning, both in life and in improv, so even though this year’s festival audience is likely going to be the largest the UIG has ever entertained, the performers are more excited than afraid. Failing comes with the side effect of being hilarious, Contini says.

“Something that audiences love 100 per cent of the time is watching people fail.” Contini says. “I mean, how many times have you just gone on YouTube and just looked up fail compilations.”

Challenging yourself to think of something on the spot is the fun part of improv — and also saves you from having to memorize lines, drama officer Piper Rempel says. Failing in that challenge gives you the opportunity to say “yes” to another improviser’s attempt to fix the situation.

“Even though you are nervous going on stage, you know that everyone else on your team is just as nervous,” she says. “That community makes it a lot easier.”

Anyone interested in joining the UIG can drop in on one of their meetings, which are held Wednesdays and Thursday’s from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Humanities Lecture Hall 1 (HCL1).

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