We’ve assembled some of the best and brightest improvisers from around North America to form the Festival Ensemble! Under the inspiring direction of Todd Houseman (Edmonton) and Adam Meggido (London, UK), these intrepid performers will create never-before-seen improv shows that will blow your mind.
Wed Sept 14, 7:30pm – Culture Lab
Thurs Sept 15, 8:00pm – Culture Lab
Fri Sept 16, 7:30pm – Historic Theatre
Sat Sept 17, 7:30pm – Historic Theatre
Todd Houseman (Amiskwaciy [Edmonton])
Festival Ensemble Director
Todd Houseman (aka Kaskitew Asiniy) is a cree mixed-blood actor, improviser, and writer from Amiskwaciy (Edmonton). He is a senior member of Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre where he has been performing and teaching since 2009. Todd is also a graduate of the acting program and current teacher at the National Theatre School of canada in Montreal. He is the co-creator of the cultural comedy duo Folk Lordz (with Ben Gorodetsky) which has delighted audiences across the country both live and digitally. In 2021 Todd was awarded a position on the Alberta Council for Global Cooperation’s Top 30 Under 30 list for his work in cultural facilitation and artistic achievement. In recent years, Todd has been developing his written work, with the award winning play Whiteface under his belt and the new play The Children of the Bear in development as a large-scale immersive theatre production. When he’s not writing, improvising or acting Todd can be found on the land, in the mountains and forests of western alberta.
Adam Meggido (London, UK)
Festival Ensemble Director
Adam Meggido is an English writer, performer and director based in London. He is perhaps best known for his work in improvised theatre, being the co-creator and director of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, the first improvised show ever to win an Olivier Award (Best Entertainment and Family 2016). With fellow Showstopper Sean McCann he created Rhapsodes, a two-man development of the work originated with Ken Campbell, which has played extensively internationally. He directed Peter Pan Goes Wrong (Mischief Theatre) for London’s West End (Apollo Theatre 2015-16 and 2016–2017) and national tour, which was nominated for Best New Comedy, Olivier Awards 2016 and filmed by the BBC for broadcast Christmas 2016. It toured New Zealand and Australia in 2018-2019, returned to the UK in 2019-2020, and in 2022, has toured Canada. His book – Improv Beyond Rules: A Practical Guide to Narrative Improvisation – was published by Nick Hern Books in 2019.
Ben Elliott (Vancouver, BC)
Ben Elliott is an actor, composer and musical director, based in Vancouver, BC. Ben’s musical direction and sound design has been heard on the stages of The Arts Club, Bard On The Beach Shakespeare Festival, Carousel Theatre, Theatre Replacement, Western Gold, RMTC, The Citadel, Milwaukee Rep and Chicago Shakespeare. Ben has also made regular appearances with the award winning improv group, The Sunday Service. When not behind the keys, Ben writes and releases his own music, composes for film and television, and musical theatre. In the fall, Ben is appearing in the new play, The Cafe, (ITSAZOO) and then heads to The Citadel in Edmonton to act and play the harpsichord in a cool adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Ben is a graduate of Bishop’s University and Studio 58. www.benelliott.ca
Billy Soco (New York City, NY)
Billy Soco is a first generation Latinx and AAPI actor and improviser. He’s performed on house teams with UCBTNY and Magnet Theater as well as Comedysportz NYC and the nationally recognized Story Pirates. He has performed with Baby Wants Candy, The Armando Diaz Experience, and in festivals across North America with all-Latinx improv ensemble CHUCHO and Kittyhawk Musical Improv. Billy regularly performs with the premier Hip Hop improv comedy team, North Coast, and at Magnet Theater with Big Whoop and The Little Big Show.
Billy has performed scripted live theater throughout NYC from sketch comedy to indie plays to Shakespeare including productions of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and a retelling of Henry V inspired by the life of Nipsey Hussel.
Billy is also an improv instructor and management professional delivering workshops focused on vulnerability and authenticity and has co-moderated conversations on topics like inclusion, diversity of thought and creativity in the workplace.
Eric Simons (Portland, OR)
Henricus Gielis (Halifax, NS)
Henricus Gielis (he/him) is an actor, improviser, teacher and creator based in Kjipuktuk / Halifax, Nova Scotia. His solo show King of the Goats won the “Fringiest Fringe show” award in the 2019 Halifax Fringe. He regularly creates and performs with the award-winning improv troupe Hello City. And his original improv format “The Curator” was picked up and adapted by Bad Dog Theatre in 2015 & 2017. Select theatre credits include: Macbeth, Schoolhouse (Two Planks and a Passion); The Aliens (Theatre in Space); Petites Danses (Mocean Dance); The Crevice (Phyllis Rising) The Lear Project (Neptune); Joyride, Peter Fechter’s 59 minutes, King of the Goats (Matchstick Theatre); Ben Hur, The Goodnight Bird, Burnin’ Love, Hope and Gravity (Festival Antigonish); Pugwash, The Mystery Play (Ship’s Theatre).
Jill Goranson (Vancouver)
Jill is a theatre creator who lives and works on the traditional lands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. She graduated from Sheridan College’s Bachelor of Musical Theatre Program in 2019, where she was awarded the triple threat award. Since graduating, Jill has produced three events with her company Art Pop-Up Toronto, which was awarded a grant from the Canada Council of the Arts and has helped inspire 50 new works- including three of her own. Jill is so grateful for the improv community she has found at Blind Tiger Comedy and now can’t wait to be part of this year’s ensemble at the Vancouver Improv Fest!
Kara Moore (Portland, OR)
Kara was a judge at the National Air Guitar Championships! She has been performing, studying, teaching, and coaching improv comedy since 2001. She has trained and performed at IO Chicago, The Annoyance Theater (Chicago), Second City Chicago Donny’s Skybox, Clown Improv Gym and Upright Citizens Brigade. In 2016 Kara co-founded the Kickstand Improv Comedy Training Center. She has performed all over the US at festivals such as: The Del Close Marathon in NYC, Out of Bounds in Austin, TX, Stumptown Improv Festival, and at Vancouver International Improv Festival in Vancouver, BC. Currently you can catch Kara improvising in Secret Aardvark and performing in her comedy character shorts “Impressions of Human Beings” @kaymocomedy on Tik Tok and is the Managing Director at Kickstand Comedy in Portland, OR.
Kevin Vidal (Vancouver/Toronto)
Kevin Vidal is a Canadian Screen Award and Canadian Comedy Award winning actor for his work in Canadian television and theater. He wrote and performed in two Second City Toronto mainstage revues, was a regular performer at Bad Dog comedy theater and most recently finished a two year run in Mirvish’s hit musical Come From Away. Kevin has also been improvising and performing sketch with his comedy partner/best friend, Christian Smith, since 2014 as Soul Decision Comedy. Born and raised in Toronto, Kevin now calls Vancouver home. Kevin’s recent television credits include Strays (CBC), Workin’ Moms (CBC), Sunnyside (CityTV), But I’m Chris Jericho (CBC), Soul Decision Comedy (CBC) and Kim’s Convenience (CBC).
Stevey Hunter (Halifax)
Stevey Hunter (they/them) is a queer trans nonbinary actor, comedian, and writer based in Kjipuktuk (Halifax, NS.) They are a versatile performer known for their work improvising with award winning improv company: Hello City and has taught and performed improv across Canada. They have worked with numerous theatre companies in Nova Scotia including: Neptune Theatre, Eastern Front Theatre, Ship’s Theatre Company, Zuppa Theatre, and more. In Spring 2021, Stevey performed and wrote their first solo comedy show exploring their relationship to gender called When You Leave Please Say Nice Things About Me funded by Arts Nova Scotia. In Fall 2021, Eastern Front Theatre and Shakespeare by the Sea produced the premiere production of their play FAT JULIET, a contemporary retelling of Romeo & Juliet through the perspective of a fat Juliet. The production sold out before opening night and was nominated for 12 Theatre Nova Scotia Robert Merritt Awards. Select TV/Film credits include: Diggstown, Moonshine (CBC); FROM (EPIX); and Look At Me (AfroViking).
Tyra Banda (Edmonton)
Tyra Banda got her start in comedy in 2014 when she joined the University of Alberta Improv Group, and her love of the art was immediate! From there, she performed in many improv festivals around the country, as well as internationally (Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre – 2019). She was part of Rapid Fire Theatre from 2017 to 2019, until moving to Toronto to pursue a diploma in Comedy Writing and Performance at Humber College. While in Toronto she was cast in a Season 7 Featured Players with Bad Dog Theatre, as well as Improv College’s Narrative Mainstage Team. She is part of a sketch group called Chuckle Ruckus which have performed on many stages including at the 2021 and 2022 Edmonton Fringe Festivals. She is extremely excited to be part of this festival and this fire ensemble!
Vivian Tang (Vancouver)
Vivian Tang has been performing improv in Vancouver for 10 years. She’s a member of the all-Asian improv troupe, Fistful of Kicks as well as 1/2 of comedy duo, Big Apartment. She loves board games despite being the worst at all of them.