Improvisers Assemble: VIIF 2015 expands to three powerhouse ensembles


Everybody loves Vancouver! To accommodate the growing demand from players across North America interested in performing at Vancouver International Improv Festival (VIIF), this year features three specially-formed groups: two International Ensembles and a Vancouver Ensemble.

Kory Mathewson from Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton is one of the International Ensemble directors. Though he will be working with many new performers, he feels that improv is a strong-built in connection that help players perform together well.

VIIF Kory Mathewson
Kory Mathewson

“I love the community. Improv is like a huge family, with a bunch of uncles, aunts and siblings that you haven’t met yet,” said Mathewson. “You all know the ‘family rules’, but it is fun to see how different parts or sides of the family do things differently.”

This year’s International Ensembles are made up of players from Toronto, Phoenix, San Diego, Calgary, Los Angeles, Portland, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Port Coquitlam, Winnipeg, Montreal and Vancouver. “Team Echo” will perform Wednesday and Saturday, and “Team Bravo” will take the stage on Wednesday and Friday.

For Kristen Schier of Philly Improv Theater, working with new improvisers is inspirational.

Kristen Schier (left) with Amie Roe.
Kristen Schier (left) with Amie Roe.

“The work artists do in other communities never fails to impress or challenge me,” said Schier, another director of the VIIF International Ensembles. “I am so excited to see what the talented ensemble I am working with will bring to the stage. Our focus in rehearsals will be on theatrical clown. The combination of vulnerability, risk, and character I am hoping to encourage should make for a lively show.”

New to VIIF this year is the Vancouver Ensemble, showcasing some of the city’s top improvisers performing Ghost Jail under the direction of The Sunday Service’s Caitlin Howden.

VIIF Caitlin Howden
Caitlin Howden

“An international festival celebrating my favourite art form, surrounded by the most dedicated, open and loving oddballs is unlike anything else. This is when we feel the strongest,” said Howden, who also performs with Blind Tiger Comedy and Vancouver TheatreSports League.

Vancouver International Improv Festival runs October 6-10 at Performance Works, Waterfront Theatre and The Improv Centre. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

V.I.A is a proud sponsor of VIIF 2015.

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