After an awesome finale of the 4th IMPRO-niversary of Montreal Improv theater, we spoke to Marc Rowland, one of the directors and teachers at Montreal Improv and a member of a two man improv team called Easy Action.
Read on to know how it all came to life and what to expect in the near future.
Victoria Shinkaruk (VS): So Marc, who is helping you with making Montreal Improv happen?
Mark Rowland (MR): We are 3 directors, myself (Marc Rowland), Bryan Walsh, François Vincent, so we are the three. Kirsten Rasmussen used to be with us but she moved to Toronto. There are many other people who are helping in many other ways like teaching and organizing.
VS: So tell me how did you get into Montreal Improv?
MR: Bryan, Vinnie and I all met at McGill and we were all a part of McGill improv club so yeah that’s a club that has been in existence for now about 30 years or so. It’s long going and there are a lot of groups and a lot of people who have come out of there. We (Marc Rowland, Bryan Walsh, François Vincent, Kirsten Rasmussen) have met there and we did improv together for a long time.
We used to perform at the Comedy Nest and then eventually we decided to create a space that was specifically for learning and teaching improv and performing it, because performing in a comedy club is not necessarily the same atmosphere. We wanted to create an audience of people who were there to see improv and all other things.
VS: I find it is very hard to explain or to show to someone what to expect from IMPROV nights.
MR: You can’t fully transmit the experience through video, though there are some performances and some videos that look good, they are fine ,and you see that “well yeah this is funny,” BUT it’s the experience of it live that is different and it is something that you can do with improv that you cannot do with anything else.
Because it’s about the discovery in the moment and the creation that the audience senses and goes “Oh they just figured it out, this is really happening right now they did not write this down,” and that’s what is the best about it.
VS: All teams are all students here?
MR: Yeah everyone that performed tonight (4th IMPRO-niversary of Montreal Improv) is either a teacher or was a student or is a student here at the school. They all went through our program and they have been practicing here for I think three or four years now.
VS: The three day smack down competition, is it the first time this is happening or you had similar experiments?
MR: Yeah first time we’ve done the tournament of that style because we do have another tournament which is called a threepio and that’s a larger and a longer one. It is going to go for a season, and it involves a different sort of style where people will do what’s called long-form. Teams get maybe one word and they just go for 20 minutes. So they have 22 minutes and it doesn’t stop.
VS: I find it is very entertaining that you get the feeling of switching off the atmosphere.
MR: Yeah, there are many pros and cons to each style and genre of shows so what’s cool about this one is that there is something new (snaps fingers), something new (snaps fingers) so it’s like: boring scene? AAAND It’s over, right? So if anything is not working it is changed quickly.
VS: So as this was an experiment and it seems to be a very successful one, are you going to do this more often now?
MR: Yeah you know why not?! Yeah it worked very well this weekend. Well we do have a smack down show and we do that every Friday at 8PM, but this is the first time we’ve done it over a period of three days so people can come back and vote for their favorite team.
VS: And what is the audience like? Are they mostly outsiders?
MR: Some shows sell out some don’t. This time the shows sold out because we did put more effort into the promotion of it and usually we don’t have that much time on our hands.
VS: And do you have guests from other cities?
MR: Yes this weekend we had Hawkins, a guest from Toronto. And in one month Montreal Improv Festival is starting and it goes from September 30 to October 11 2014 . We will have guests from Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Paris and Boston!
VS: Wow so it is going to be quiet a festival!
MR: Yes! Caspar (Caspar Schjelbred) is the most different from all of the guests. He is from Paris and he has a one man show sort of thing. He was here last year. I’ve known him for a while and he is a great performer, a real artist.
Montreal Improv shows are happening every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Montreal Improv (3697 Boulevard Saint-Laurent) at 8 p.m. All shows are $8 or $5 with a valid Montreal Improv Student card. For more info click HERE