Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Tightrope Impro Theatre officially launched operations this month, beginning with its online instruction for youth and teens.
Based in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood, the theatre company is offering several programs targeted towards students aged 8-12 and 13-17. Those courses in particular are "the perfect antidote to the stresses kids are feeling right now with the return to school in an unknown and confusing environment as a result of COVID-19," Tightrope explained in a release.
According to Ali Froggatt, the company's co-founder and artistic director, Tightrope staff aims to "focus on positivity and imagination to create playful improvised stories. At the teen level we start embracing failure and working to inspire each other."
This fall, Tightrope is also partnering up with Vancouver-based comedian Ashlee Ferral to offer two programs specifically created for young girls. "Girl Party," for ages 7 -11, is set to focus on "empowerment, consent and fun through improv," while "Girl Power" for ages 12 – 17, aims to create "comedic improv scenes inspired by real experiences and teen-led discussions."
But dreaming of one day performing on Saturday Night Live isn't a prerequisite to train with Tightrope.
In addition to offering improv training for performers (both online and in-studio), the theatre company also offers "Improv for the workplace" programming for those looking for help with public speaking and team building, as well as "Improv for Health and Wellness," which works with Parkinson Society of BC and the BC Brain Wellness Program to provide specialized training.
Froggot founded the improv company, formerly known as Sour Dog Theatre, in Calgary in 2014, alongside Sarah Ferguson and Quinn Contini. The company officially made the move to Vancouver in 2017, where it operated under the same name before re-branding this year.
Alongside the artistic director, Tightrope is also guided by co-founder and executive director Quinn Contini, as well as Vancouver-based performers and instructors Jeff Gladstone and Dan Dumsha, along with Aamir Khan, Sarah Ferguson and technical director Taylor Janzen.
While the theatre company is currently focused on instruction, Tightrope also says its staff has plans "down the road" to put on a few COVID-compliant shows and events. “As we just got our space prior to the pandemic, we never experienced hosting events or workshops in the space in the pre-COVID world—so we are working to build the space specifically to accommodate shows and workshops to ensuring safe social distance, contact tracing, [and] sanitization in the future,” the release added.
For more information about the company or its team, visit Tightrope's website.