Dragons' Improv Tank
Dragons' Improv Tank
Created by Louise Moon and Roger Fredericks
The Improv Centre, Granville Island
Vancouver, BC: Scary as I find the thought of being on stage with lines that I am supposed to have memorized, the thought of having to be spontaneous and improvise on the spot is even scarier. As one of those people who thinks of a witty comeback to a taunt hours after it would be meaningful, I have often thought it would be good for my too-serious, introverted soul to sign up for an introductory improv course to see if I could come up with anything smarter than "duh!"
But not having ever got around to actually doing it, there I was for the Opening Night of Dragons' Improv Tank, filled with admiration for the performers on stage and also sound improviser, Laura Skelton, who was amazingly fast off the mark with just the right music and sound effect.
The format for this show, a parody of Dragon's Den, is that three inventors will bring their ideas for new improv games, to the three Dragons, and compete to have their game chosen as the next great improv game. From a rotating cast of performers, each show has a host, three Dragons and three inventors. For this performance Margaret Nyfors was the host, Caitlin Howden, Pearce Visser and Ted Cole played the Improv Dragons and Elizabeth Bowen, Michael Teigen and Taz Vanrassel were the improv game inventors.
The show is certainly high energy, with booming music to get the audience in the groove. For this performance the back rows of the theatre were filled with students whose enthusiastic cheers and clapping kept the bids mainly in the positive range.
I thought the games were quite variable in their cleverness and comedy. As the winning Dragon, Visser got to pick the best improv game to make it onto the VTSL stage. I found his choice of the pants exchange a bit odd but I can see that it might appeal to the audience demographic. I actually liked the first game which demonstrated some common improv techniques. And my favorite inventor characters were those played by Michael Teigen, specially his Samantha.
As we left after the show, there was already quite a line up for the next show, Ultimate Improv. According to a VTSL Fast Fact sheet, audience surveys have shown that the Theatresports shows are an introduction to theatre for many young people. I can see that the improv format could certainly entice young people not only to watch, but to want to participate, and that's great.