Turning the big 15: The origin of the Vancouver International Improv Festival
The world was a very different place back in 1999. We were years away from Facebook, iPhones and Quatchi. Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace ruled the box office, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears ruled the airwaves, and the Vancouver Grizzlies were shooting hoops down at The Garage.
And in a little theatre on Main Street, Alistair Cook was inspired to create what would ultimately become the Vancouver International Improv Festival.
I was recently back from the 4th Annual Seattle International Festival of Improv, which was to be lead by Avery Scriber, Keith Johnstone and Del Close,” said Cook, Artistic Director of Instant Theatre and Producer of VIIF. “I was so inspired by the festival that I decided to produce an impulse-based arts festival right here in Vancouver with improvisational music, comedy and physical theatre.”
That first festival was a huge success, with the highlight being an ensemble of local and international improvisers led by Randy Dixon, Artistic Director of Unexpected Productions in Seattle. That was the beginning of what would become the Vancouver International Improv Festival.”
Now celebrating its 15th anniversary, the 2014 Vancouver International Improv Festival runs from October 6th to 11th and promises to be the biggest improv comedy event in the city’s history. The Festival is packed with talented improvisers — as far away as New York City and as close as Commercial Drive — all coming together for a week of over 30 shows at the Performance Works Theatre and Studio 1398 on Granville Island.
So what can audiences expect from this year’s edition of VIIF?
To laugh a lot and be surprised by the talent we have packed into our festival,” said Cook. “I think over the years VIIF has become known for our ability to showcase a great mix of outstanding international groups alongside our local comedic legends. There will be a strong mixture of styles, both classic and progressive, and it will be a lot of fun.”
Randy Dixon, there for the very first VIIF, agrees.
The best part of this festival is the level of the work, the spontaneous surprises at every turn, and the smiles on everyone’s faces.” said Randy.