The Question, May 13, 2013
taking risks is good...so is laughter
by Estelle Rosen
Vinny Francois has nearly 15 years of experience as a professional improviser. A founding director of Montreal Improv and producer of Mprov: The Montreal Improv Festival, he has performed in more shows and venues across Canada than he cares to count. He has co-produced four improvised plays for the Montreal Fringe Festival, runs the trivia-comedy podcast, "The Follow-Up", directed the tragic improv show "It's Not You, It's Me" and is now producing his monthly solo show, "Veni Vidi Vinny". He has appeared in improv festivals in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria, and has also held workshops in London, Paris and Antwerp.
CHARPO: We all think we know the meaning of improv theatre. Could you elaborate and tell us what it means to you and how you've put it into practice via Montreal Improv?
FRANCOIS: There are a wide variety of improvised shows but they all share their improvised method: there's no script and typically have limited props, decor and costuming. The rehearsals exist to practice the mechanics, staging, and tone of a show but never the actual material. The characters, dialogue and stories all emerge live before the audience's (and performers') eyes.
So that's what improvised theatre IS but what does it mean? It means listening intently to your scene partners to find out where the scene is going. It means accepting their ideas and being open to the unexpected. It means being able to be playful and to take a joy in discovering what the scene is about as it is happening. Improvised theatre means watching something unpredictable, something a little bit dangerous, unfold before your eyes and being amazed when the performers land on their feet.
At Montreal Improv, we teach our students to trust themselves and each other. We teach that taking risks is good. Taking risks exposes one to failure but we also teach people to find the opportunities in their mistakes and to trust your scene partners to make you look good. We teach storytelling, trust and playfulness. We put on shows that are fearless and joyful and embrace the strengths of improvised theatre.
But above the shows and the classes, we are building a community of people who love improvised theatre. It's a community of people that are playful, non-judgmental and open to laughter. These are the people who find their way into improv and, through this community, we find each other.
Montreal Improv website
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