Taz VanRassel interrogates Lauren McGibbon onstage during the Vancouver TheatreSports League's evening performance.

Rossland youth learn to improvise

The Vancouver TheatreSports League came to Rossland to perform and teach youth about the art of improv.

Rossland youth learned the art of improv on Friday afternoon.

Two members of the Vancouver TheatreSports League were in town as part of the Rossland Council for Arts and Culture’s performance series, and spent the afternoon teaching kids how to perform improv comedy.

Lauren McGibbon and Taz VanRassel are currently touring BC, teaching kids about improv.

“Vancouver TheatreSports League works with ArtStarts and has booked a tour to perform and educate kids about improv theatre and comedy,” said McGibbon, who joined the tour for five weeks.

VanRassel, who joined the tour for a week, said they spent the afternoon teaching the kids “basic improve. General ‘Yes, And’ sort of stuff.

“For those who don’t know what that means, there’s a general language for improv where we always agree to agree with each other, to know each other, to like each other, to kind of be positive on stage so that the scenes can actually go forward.”

McGibbons and VanRassel taught the kids a number of games, like improvising a convincing choreographed dance and “puppet master” where two of the players have to be moved around the stage either by two other players or two members of the audience.

The kids enjoyed it and learned a lot.

“It was really exciting to do really fun things and have it not really planned,” said Lillian Tanguay. “ I learned that there’s not wrong way to do it, but you just need to say yes to everything everyone else does.”

“I thought it was super fun that we got to just improvise stuff and that we got to do whatever came to our mind first, and I thought our teachers were really awesome,” said Ellie Knox. “I’ve seen them performing before [in Vancouver], so it’s really cool to actually participate.”

“I learned that it’s more fun to get people to copy what you’re doing than you think,” said Lily Kompass.

The two improv professionals said the kids did well.

“They were really fun to work with,” said VanRassel.

During the evening’s performance, McGibbon and VanRassel invited many of the kids to come up on stage as volunteers.

“We did games with them that we didn’t go over in the workshop and they picked them up like that,” said McGibbons, snapping her fingers.

“We put them on the spot, and they were fine,” said VanRassel.

The rest of the audience also did a good job of getting into the act, calling out prompts for the improv performers when asked and volunteering to go up on stage.

“Everyone was onboard. We got enough people coming up, enough volunteers, which sometimes it’s a bit of a trial, but everyone was super into it,” said VanRassel.

Rosslanders even surprised the duo by asking for an encore.

“I have never done an improv show where the audience asked for an encore,” said McGibbon.

“We were not expecting that,” said VanRassel.


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