Ensemble ECHO

The Echo festival ensemble is filled with improv comedy talent from around the world. The ensemble,  features performers with backgrounds in clown, stand-up, sketch comedy and physical theatre. The Echo ensemble will be directed by Vinny Francios and Carla Cackowski.

AL Connors

A 20-year improviser, AL is old. He’s the former National Director and President of Canadian Improv Games, and co-founder of Crush Improv. Crush’s Tenth Anniversary Special is nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for best taped live performance. He’s a multiple-time VIIF international ensemble member, and has also performed across Canada as well as a couple times in Australia and that one time in China. AL’s solo show “AL Connors: DJ Detective” won Best of Fest at the 2017 Ottawa Fringe.

Kai Rudell

Kai got his start in comedy at The Improv Camp in 2008 and has been improvising with Instant Theatre since 2011. Since then, he has done stand up, sketch, and anything else comedy that comes his way. Currently, Kai is a member of ensemble groups, Fistful of Kicks: the improvised Kung Fu story, and Hype! Kai loves to play games on-stage, but you can usually catch him off-stage playing any and all board or video games. So why not join him sometime!

Stacey Hallal

Stacey founded Curious in 2008 – establishing the organization as well as acquiring and building out the space. She has served as Artistic Director ever since. She also served as Board Chair from 2008-2013. Stacey works closely with the Board, its committees, the Managing Director and the staff to develop and implement the theatre/s five year strategic plan. Artistically, she is responsible for working with the theatre’s teachers, performers, producers and tech team to develop the artistic voice of the theatre’ss classes, shows and outreach programs to ensure fulfillment of our mission and artistic satisfaction for performers, students and our audience.

Andrew Freedom Parry

Co-Founder of Hitchhikers Improv and current Artistic Director of Hitchhikers Improv in Regina, SK. With the Canadian Improv Games, he has trained and adjudicated on the regional and national scales alongside his work as a trainer at Improv Camp. Between his work as a performer with Hitchhikers, Combat Improv, and his duo Biggie+Smalls with Cameron Chomyn, Andy has been invited to and performed on some of the country’s biggest stages for improvisation. When not performing he is working as a the lead photographer and videographer at Munz Media.

Tom Hearn

Tom works very closely with the Bad Dog Theatre Company as a producer and performer. He is a founding member of Kinsey Fail, Toronto’s LGBTQ improv show, a member of the Season 4 Featured Players and the a producer and player in HOOKUP which has been sold out for 25 weeks at The Bad Dog Theatre. Tom is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory directed by Kirsten Rasmussen. Upon graduating, he was awarded the Tim Sims Encouragement Fund Award for emerging artists. He is a cast member of Sunday Night Live with The Sketchersons and a current member of Family Co at the Second City. Tom is half of the award-winning sketch comedy dream team Tom & Erica; as a troupe they have appeared at the NC Comedy Arts Festival, Toronto and Montréal Sketchfest (2017, 2018), the Fundy Fringe Festival and 420 Comedy Festival. As a duo they have won ‘Sketchiest Sketch Troupe’ (Toronto Sketchfest ’18) and Best Ensemble (Fundy Fringe 17′).

Jess Lindal

Communicator by day, improviser by night, weekend, and every spare moment, Jess Lindal is a senior member of the Kinkonauts in Calgary, Alberta. Comfortable spanning different improv styles, she performs with longform ensemble Squadball, shortform cabaret Ze Frauline Gurlz, duo sets, and genre shows An Improvised Jane Austen and An Improvised Clue, based on the classic board game. (She created and produces the latter to a sold out audience).

Joleen Ballendine

Joleen has been improvising since 2007. As a high school student, she won several awards and competed in Ottawa in the Canadian Improv Games. That year Joleen won Most Valuable Improvisor with world renown company Rapid Fire Theatre and was asked to join the main stage cast. Joleen is the Director of Education with Rapid Fire and is a senior player performing weekly in Theatre Sports, Maestro and Chimprov (a long form show). Some of her notable troupes include Rå Power with Amy Shostak DotDotDot with long time comedy partner Jessie McPhee and Z-Said with Todd Houseman. She is also the creator and lead instructor for Rapid Fire Theatre’s Out-Reach Project.

Sehar Manji

Born and raised in Nairobi, Sehar Manji is now a Montreal-based improviser, improv teacher, standup, sketch writer, actor and comedienne. She trained in short- and long-form improv at the Montreal Improv Theatre for 7 years, where she was also a member of their house teams, Night Bus and Helmüt.

Allie Entwistle

Allie is an improviser and sketch comedian living in Vancouver, BC. She is one half of improv & sketch power-duo Brunch, and one tenth of the all-female super group Nasty Women. Recently, she’s performed at Improvaganza, Big City Improv Fest, Toronto Sketchfest, and with VIIF’s International Ensemble. She is the Artistic Director at Improvcamp, a contributor at Reductress.com and cannot wait to be back at VIIF!

Ese Atawo

Ese Atawo is a Nigerian-born, Toronto-raised, Vancouver-resident improviser. She started her comedy career at Second City learning improv and she’s still doing it… to her surprise. Ese Atawo is a cast member of Instant Theatre where she’s the co-creator and co-host of East Vancouver Improv League aka EVIL Improv. She’s also part of acclaimed local troupes Your Moms and Nasty Women.

Patrick Dodd

Born in Calgary, Patrick studied engineering in Montreal before arriving in Vancouver. After working at a clean tech start up he discovered improv and thus became an actor.

Quinn Buckner

Quinn Buckner is a climber, baker, jack of all trades but an improvisor at heart. He is a highly physical player with the ability to instantly embody the characters he’s playing –human or not. He has a penchant for mischief on stage, often searching for the most delightful way to support his fellow players. As a teacher at the Hideout Theatre in Austin, Texas, he’s found joy in exposing this fantastic artform to others and unlocking the bold and playful side of people through improv. Since he began improvising in 2008, Quinn has performed and taught at various shows and festivals around the world in places such as Hawaii, London, New York, Vancouver, New Zealand, and Japan. He is currently a teacher and regular performer at the Hideout Theatre in his home base of Austin, Texas as well as a producer for the Improvised Play Festival.

ENSEMBLE DIRECTORS

Vinny Francois

Vinny Francois has over 20 years of experience as a professional improviser and is an award-winning instructor. A founding director of the Montreal Improv Theatre, he has performed in more shows and venues across Canada than he cares to count. He also is Executive Producer of Mprov: The Montreal Improv Festival.

He has co-produced four improv shows for the Montreal Fringe Festival and directed the tragic improv show “It’s Not You, It’s Me” in Canada, the US and the UK. He has appeared in improv festivals in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria, Winnipeg & Vancouver (Best Workshop, 2016) and was the inaugural Ensemble Director for the Improvised Play Festival in 2017 (Austin, TX). Vinny has also performed and held workshops in Dublin, London, Paris, Antwerp, Geneva, Tallinn, Canberra, Melbourne, and Wellington.

Carla Cackowski

Carla Cackowski is an improviser, writer, podcaster, and nap-lover. She toured all over Europe, Alaska, and the Caribbean performing comedy with The Second City. She’s a member of SAG-AFTRA and has done voice-over work on shows for ABC Family, TBS, and Disney. She wrote and performed five solo shows that were produced in Los Angeles and her comedic monologues were published in anthologies by APPLAUSE BOOKS. Carla hosts “Improv Yak”, a shop-talk podcast about improv comedy. When they’re not touring their two person improv show “Orange Tuxedo“, she and her husband Craig Cackowski co-host a podcast called “Craig’s List”.  Most recently, Carla has written for sketch shows on PBS Kids and Dreamworks TV. She taught improvisation and directed sketch shows at The Second City Hollywood for eight years before relocating to the Pacific Northwest to accept the position of Co-Artistic Director at Curious Comedy Theater.