Youth improvise at R.E. Mountain

Shows such as Whose Line is It Anyway? and the venue the Giggle Dam have helped bring improv to mainstream audiences.

But for years, R.E. Mountain Secondary drama teacher Guru Sidhu has been having his students think on the fly as they create scenarios and scenes while doing improv.

Now a group of his afterschool improvisors are headed to Ontario for the Canada Improv Games.

The school production dates for Our Town had to be moved up after many in the show, who also happen to be on the improv team, earned the right to compete in the Canada Improv Nationals taking place April 14-19.

Grade 12 student Ralie Gasler has been on the improv team about a year.

“It scares me,” she said, adding that’s a good thing. “And when I do it, it’s amazing.”

She plans to go to acting school in the future and believes the ways improv pushes her to think on her feet is valuable.

Twenty schools from across Canada will gather in Ottawa. R.E. Mountain is one of the two qualifying communities from B.C. In addition to the competition, the students will get to attend workshops and see others compete.

The eight students on the school team, in Grades 11 and 12, do improv after class.

“It’s not ‘we’re just going to do some games’,” commented Sidhu.

Sidhu started teaching at Aldergrove Community Secondary in the 1990s, and incorporating improv. He still has students from previous years willing to come back and work with students.

“It’s important for an actor,” Sidhu said about the skills gained through improv. “And life’s improv.”

The skills aren’t just valuable for performing arts. He uses the example of being able to answer questions at a job interview.

“Can you think on your feet?” he said.

The Canada Improv Games covers accommodation. The students have been working to raise funds for the travel. The parent advisory council helped out as well.

Riordon Wry, Grade 12, said improv is just plain fun.

“It’s like this giant hodge podge,” he said.

He has been on the team for two years and said a performer can tell when the results are working.

“When you have it, it’s like ‘yes’,” he said.

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