Thursday, June 29, 2006

GOOD START WHIRLWIND.

day four finds us in Berlin.
wait wait... start from the begining.
june 24, friendly match in Graz, Austria. hot sweaty room. we realised we need bandanas to mop our sweaty sweaty impro brows.
june 26, opening night festivities in Munich. we do a scene with Zimbabwe. they have weird pants. saw some Bavarian knee slappers. great band. tuba as a lead instrument. fucking love the Columbians.
june 27, six and a half hour train trip to Dresden. match against the russians. we squeaked out a victory.
june 28, made it to Berlin in time to drive around the entire city dropping off our bags at our respective hosts (each of us separately-weird being separated after only housing for the last 6 days...i miss steves warm breath). squeaked out another win against Zimbabwe.
june 29, catching up emails in Berlin. must wash my bowling shirt. i sweat like a/an (insert funny description). tonight we play Sweden in an open air theatre. fingers crossed.
THE GAMES! THE GAMES!

Both shows have been really fun. The audiences are warm and generous, the stories have been interesting and ridiculous. A couple of dud moments, but nothing catastrophic.

on the trains we have drawn some scenes in brief comic form, so when we have the tech, we will publish those too. patience!

DRESDEN with the Russians: we won.

BERLIN with Zimbabwe: we won.

Jacob recieved a yellow card for (i think) facetiousness. then another for goofing with the audience, then a RED CARD when he tried to laugh it off! Leon was ref, and he was being a hardass. Jacob had to let someone else set up the scene, but was allowed to act in it.
they take off points for fouls! it's dangerous to goof around too much. and you gotta be careful with the germans. they think rules are fun.

The shows are set up so that after a scene or two as a team, we play a mixed scene with the other team. it's a great way to get players out of a comfort zone (playing with their usual crew) and really open up into the unexpected - cuz those russkies are crazy, and zimbabwe -

- well, one of them is crazy.

the scoring of the show: audience members have three coloured cards representing 1, 3 or 5 points. they hold up the cards and the ref assesses the colour scheme.
it's a little anticeptic. dry. though there is some tension if it's not clear and the ref has to decide...
i prefer the canadian method of getting the audience to all yell or applaud their vote. it's immediate, passionate, makes them into one roaring beast.

our scenes have been at times touching, violent, loving, abstract, simple, supernatural and stupid.

love, monty

Sunday, June 25, 2006

SHIRTS.

we have team shirts now. bowling shirts. black with a wide maroon centre stripe; white piping. shirts to call our very own. but we didn't stop there, no. can someone say iron-on transfers? using our buffalo logo we printed it onto iron-on paper and then onto our shirts, each personally individualised. we even have super secret impro code names. i am now to be known as Cal, jacob is Monty, and steve will henceforth be referred to as Peg.

early train tomorrow. 8:30am train (6hr trip) to munich; show to follow. then it begins...

Friday, June 23, 2006

friendly...!

i have arrived in graz. steve arrives later today. we're set for a grillfest and a warm up friendly with graz' home team, and austria's national champions, Theater Im Bahnhof. it should provide a ripping opportunity to bang out the dents in this great canadian shield. although i was informed last night that the team we will be facing is comprised entirely of women, one of whom happens to be jacob's partner and mother of his daughter. where will jacob's loyalties lie?
my usual fears and doubts have creeped into their governing seat at the forefront of my consciousness. fear of the swedes, the russians (who doesn't fear the russians?), most of all the zimbabwians? zimbabwites? zimbabies? zim-ska-la-bim.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Improv World Cup Hooligan


People think the world of improv is all good clean wholesome fun, and that may have been true in the mid to late nineties, but there has been a dark shadow creeping in the last few years. A note to all the fans who will be converging in Deutchland for the WM of Improv in 2006: consider yourself warned about the improv hooligan.

They will be easy to spot, with their body paint, flag waving and beer soaked "funny" hats. They are the ones yelling "dildo" as a suggestion every chance they get. This group of die-hard fans take it all far too seriously, using the event as an excuse to "fuck shit up".

Unfortunately, over the last few years their antics have been getting more frequent, and more importantly, more violent. Fortunately when groups of hooligans from rival teams do end up fighting it is in slow motion and using mimed weapons. The police are informed and a special unit has been formed to crack down on the ring leaders. Even still, there was an incident several weeks ago where a hooligan was fatally wounded... it took almost 17 hours for him to die, and that was after delivering six monologues and acting out his soul floating up to heaven. Witnesses on the scene were horrified.

It is a shame that a few bad apples have to spoil the batch. But we must stand up against this mockery of mockery. We cannot sit back and let the bad apple continue to spoil; we, as the batch of not-spoiled-apples, have a responsibility. If you do run into a holligan at the WM of improv, the best thing you can do is just walk away, ignore them, don't give them the chance. At this point, if you can muster up the nerve, simply say "Save it for the stage!" in a stern, yet comforting voice.

Please enjoy the games responsibly.

Monday, June 19, 2006


The Canadian Shield... a mass of rock, also an improv team.

The Canadian Shield is the largest sub-region in the Northern Region. It is 4.8 billion square km in area. It is located in: North-east Alberta, Northern Saskatchewan, Northern Manitoba, Southern N.W.T, Ontario (except for the Ontario Peninsula), Quebec, Labrador, Eastern Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin and Northern Michigan.

LOCATION
Using longitude and latitude you can find the coordinates of the Canadian Shield. Its southern-most point is 89W 44N, the Northern-most point is, 105W 57N, the Western-most point is 115W 57N and the Eastern-most point is 57W 51N.

INDUSTRIES
The Canadian Shield’s primary industries are farming, mining and forestry. Even though the Canadian Shield has plentiful primary industries, it has very few secondary industries. They have smelters near the mines and many pulp and paper mills. Its tertiary industry is mainly tourism. Every year many people go to areas of the Canadian Shield to see its flat rocky ground and thick coniferous forests. The only quaternary industries are research at universities in Thunder Bay, Sudbury and Duluth. They research better ways to mine and conduct forestry. Since pulp and paper mills are so plentiful in the area it is becoming a negative interaction with the world. Pulp and paper mills are whipping out many of the large thick coniferous forests, thereby endangering the animals that call the coniferous forests of the Canadian Shield home.

PHYSICAL LANDFORMS
The Canadian Shield has two major landforms, a rocky surface of mainly igneous rock and many coniferous forests. The highest elevation of the Canadian Shield is only about 500m above sea level. The reason that this region has rocky surfaces is because millions of years ago there were mountains in the sub-region, through water, freeze thaw and fluvial erosion the mountains have eroded into hard even land. The southern section of the Canadian Shield is mainly boreal, meaning that it is mostly coniferous forests. In the northern part it is rocky frozen tundra.

CLIMATE
Since the Canadian Shield is so large the climate varies. In the southern parts of the Canadian Shield such as southern Ontario the climate is seasonal. In the winter the average temperature is about –18 degrees Celsius and in the summer it is about +25 degrees Celsius. The growing season is about 120 days. The south has about 15 hours of daylight in the summer and 8.5 hours in the winter. The average temperature in the northern part of the Canadian Shield is about –35 in the winter and about +15 in the summer. The growing season is only about 60 days and in the winter the north only has about 5.5 hours of daylight. In the summer the northern part has 18.5 hours of daylight everyday.

SOIL TYPE
In the lowlands of the Canadian Shield (Hudson Bay Area) the soil is soggy and is suitable for planting trees. However the area has many marshes and bogs. The rest of the region has course soil that doesn’t hold moisture very well and is frozen year round. This is called the "tundra".

VEGETATION
Vegetation in the Canadian Shield is mainly coniferous forests.
In the south the trees are larger and closer together. As you go
north trees are smaller and not as dense.
There is eventually a spot up north in the Shield
that doesn’t have any forest; this is again in the tundra.

IMPROV
Oh yeah suckers, this mass of rock takes improv to the next level. Watch out as we get all geological on your asses. Monologues by igneous rock... do you even understand how much a rock has seen? Coniferous forests pulling out non-linear edits... man those trees don't lose their leaves over the winter like some other trees. You can't even imagine what will happen, and that is why you just gotta be there and experience it.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


THE CANADIAN SHiELD TOUR SCHEDULE

An easy to digest list!

Awesome Preview Show
Saturday, June 24, Graz: The Shield vs. Theater im Bahnhof
in Orpheum Extra at 19:30
-----
Mon June 26, Munich: Opening Ceremonies
-----
First Round:
Tue June 27, Dresden: Canada - Russia
-----
Wed June 28, Berlin: Canada - Zimbabwe
-----
Thur June 29, Berlin: Canada - Sweden
-----
Fri June 30, Hannover: Canada - Russia
-----
Sat July 1, Hamburg: Canada – Zimbabwe (That's Canada Day, watch out!)

Sun July 2, Bremen: Canada - Sweden
=====
Mon July 3, Hamburg or München: Quarter Finals
-----
Thu July 6, Dortmund or Nürnberg: Semi Finals
-----
Fri July 7, Berlin: FINAL MATCH
=====
Sat July 08, Berlin: The Long Night of Theatresports

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

how to warm up for a welt-meister impro tournament; according to derek.

first go to oslo. now, not everyone would agree, but the nordic air is great for starting ones journey into the heart of darkness that is impro preparation. when in oslo rediscover that impro is alive in its myraid of forms, and that should be like a great clicking of cogs, like when it dawns on you that she never really loved you, she just wanted to date john casuga and was using you and your vulenerable teddy bear gifts to get closer and then dance with him during 'lady in red'. the song you had chosen to be your song, not his, but yours.

then do some teaching in rotterdam. because face it, the dutch need all the help they can get. and also it reminds you that even though one may have been improvising for nigh on twenty years there is still alot to learn, like how the deceptively subtle touch of a woman is the first in many satin traps laid out by the 'fairer sex' to lull men into a sense of placidity which is then befouled by talk of emotions and feelings.

follow that by some time in zurich. teaching and performing with the crumbs and some german guy. this is to help one have an appreciation for fun which the swiss seem to have forgotten while they stockpile years of plundered nazi gold underneath their cold, distant gaze. and no matter how much you talk to her or buy her drinks (at fucking ten dollars a beer) she'll never go home with you because you only speak two languages and excuse me for thinking that alittle heavy petting is a cute way of getting to know someone.

followed by two weeks in the czech republic.

can't wait for graz.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Life at Home...

A Classic by Arthur Lismer, Rene Dellefont and Jacob Banigan

Friday, June 09, 2006

derek flores on steve sim

lee white is probably the best improviser i have ever seen. his attention to detail and his even, calculated pace make him a thinking mans improviser. the power of his narrative skill; weaving from the well worn path into dangerous unpredictability. lee's pale, gangly frame a canvass wherein he can paint characters in subtle hues. indeed i have had the pleasure with working with lee on too few occasions, and every time i vow that i should follow his lead and learn the art of his controlled energy.

i guess the same can be said for steve.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006



Steve Sim


Derek Flores


Jacob Banigan

Monday, June 05, 2006

Reasons Why Canada Will Win The Theatresports World Cup

1. We invented Theatresports. We exported it to less awesome countries to make them a little less sucky.

2. We understand Theatresports. We know how to play any ridiculous challenge and still touch the audience with stories that examine the human condition - BACKWARDS.

3. a)Jacob Banigan
b)Derek Flores
c)Steve Sim

4. Our pathetic competition:
a) Sweden

Ooh, i'm scared! Sweden is challenging us! They may be listed as one of the happiest countries, maybe their social system rivals even Canada's, maybe they are on average better looking than us, but for the arts? Hello? Culture? Who can list even FIVE global cultural contributions from the Swedes? let's see: ABBA, Bergman... um... that's it! Goose egg! even ABBA is only really appreciated by 40 year old chicks in drunken twitching fits of nostalgia - and Bergman - oh, you've seen a Bergman film and it was really amazing? NERD! Try it on your film studies class, college boy! This is improv.
Sweden? ... please.

b) Russia

Oh, yeah, the Russians are FAMOUS for their sense of humour. And the "Oh but we must laugh to prevent us from crying" angle doesn't cut it. Maybe they would have had a chance if they had like a secret state-run training facility in Siberia where children are raised under strict conditions to be super-comedy-soldiers, but honestly, i don't think they got that goin on. Good luck, FORMER superpower!

c) Zimbabwe

I have no quarrel with this country. Zimbabwe is quite a strong contender. May the best team win - wait! oop! we're playing against Zimbabwe on July 1 - Canada Day! Our national holiday! YOU GOIN DOWN, AFRICA!

5. We don't care if we win! That's right! We are there to entertain the audience. So even if the points don't go our way, we are going to be frickin' heroes to the beautiful sexy intelligent German audience. And that's why we'll get the points and win - because we don't care about the points and winning.
(Nobody beats Canadians at passive aggression)
A BORING DISCLAIMER

regarding the boring nature of some posts on this site:

for many of the earlier posts, i merely copied stuff i wrote for a grant application, hence: DULLSVILLE.

the canadian gov't is pretty good about grants, but we don't fit into their categories, so we are 'inadmissable' and 'screwed'.
The TS World Cup is covering our travel and accom expenses, for which we are grateful. But we need some green!
ah, nerts.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Jacob on Derek

Derek was first on my list when forming THE CANADIAN SHiELD.
He understands THEATRESPORTS: the nature of the 'competition', the essence of stories, the balance between mischieviousness and allowing the show to succeed.

He studied under Keith Johnstone for years, and took the work to new levels for himself and others on stage. Where others would merely obey the Prof, Derek would respectfully question and challenge the pillars of improv.

I think I met Derek in 1991 at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, where we hosted a Theatrespots Tournament called ImproMania. He from Loose Moose Theatre, I of Rapid Fire. Immediately I knew he was the best kind of trouble on stage. Derek would leap into any challenge that came up, mess around with the show, make tons of little jokes but never detract from the story. He was fearless but in control and a real inspiration for me.

Derek probably did not take notice of me, since i was not on the tournament team. Over the next year we crossed paths a couple times, and at the next Fringe were cast in the same show - a semi-improvised show called Suspect, in which i unsuccessfully stole his gags on more than one occasion. shame on me, yes.

He went off to be one of The 3 Canadians, touring the world doing unbelievable street shows that somehow were improv related ... it was 80% SHOWSHOWSHOW, 5% improv and 15% convincing the crowd to pay them for it. It was remarkable (he remarked).

Derek moved to Toronto, and we have played once there at Catch 22 (!)with Kevvy - i think in the last 10 years we have done just that one show together, but it's like riding a bike or surviving a shark attack, once you learn...

We work well together and won't put up with complacency from the other.

Derek and I were also part of The Happy Gang at DisneyWorld in '96. For details, you have to ask one of the gang personally - Jacob, Derek, Mark, Belinda, Josh and Eric.
hehehehehe...

Friday, June 02, 2006

On Improv
Improvisational theatre is an artform that is constantly evolving. Work on stage cannot be based upon past success; instead it must, by it’s very nature, be re-examined and created anew to stay interesting and exciting.

To be frank, improv is occasionally deemed frivolous, juvenile and cheap, since many practitioners are inexperienced and present it in just that way.

However, we may separate the form from the content. The members of The Canadian Shield were selected because they are commited theatre professionals, dedicated to using improv as a way to connect with audiences, create engaging stories, and improve the art form along the way. They seek to incorporate many aspects of theatre in their improv work and thereby to enrich the experience of seeing or performing an unscripted show.

Aim for art, Settle for comedy.
The Theatresports format is just one among many that our players are familiar with. This form allows for many players to feature in a structured show in which good work is rewarded, poor work penalised, and the audience is actively engaged.

That it lends itself well to comedy does not restrict us to merely trying to be funny. Rather, the options as a performer are limitless if one is aiming at creating real moments and interesting stories of the human experience. It is this attitude that makes an improvisor successful, regardless of winning or losing a match.
Stephen Sim (Winnipeg) is a member of the international improv sensation CRUMBS. The group is based out of Winnipeg, and has toured throughout Canada and Europe, primarily in Deutschland, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. CRUMBS is a duo (a trio if you count the musician) that specializes in long form improvisational theatre. The show is usually a mix of stories and characters that are woven together in a non-linear way (and it's funny too).

Stephen Sim started improvising (on a stage in front of people) in the early nineteen nineties. Stephen Sim runs the IF... Winnipeg Improv Festival, acting as the Artistic Director. Stephen Sim also runs the Manitoba Improv League, a high school improv program. He is a two time winner of the Masters Of The Obvious Theatresports Tournament at IMPROVAGANZA. Stephen Sim has been teaching improv to the masses, everyone from young beginners to old hacks, for years. Stephen Sim loves teaching almost as much as performing (almost).
Derek Flores (Calgary/Toronto)
Born in Calgary, the suburban heart of the Rocky Mountains, Derek Flores cut his improv teeth under the watchful eye of the creator of Theatresports, Keith Johnstone, while at Loose Moose Theatre. Two years into a theatre degree at university, Derek heeded the call of the wild and for almost a decade became a travelling comedian plying his trade as a street performer, stand-up, playwright, cabaret m.c, and perpetually an improviser.

Having spent a great deal of time in Australia, at the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival, Derek has also dusted his boots with the sand of New Zealand, Singapore, Edinburgh, and across the U.S. and Canada. Derek has performed for trillions of people with his comedy troupe The 3 Canadians and his impro cabaret duo Hot Nuts & Popcorn. He has now made his home in Toronto as a mainstage performer with the Second City.
Jacob Banigan (Edmonton) is an internationally entrenched improv artist; he teaches, directs and performs across Europe, USA and Canada. His expertise in various forms of improv draws him to work with such fine groups as Theater Im Bahnhof, English Lovers (Austria); Die Gorillas, Isar 148, Theatresport Berlin (Germany); Quicksilver Productions (Belgium); Theatre Narobov (Slovenia); Unexpected Productions, Dad's Garage, and SAK Theatre (USA). He has woked with many Canadian companies including Atomic Improv, Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie, Just For Laughs, DIE-NASTY, Vancouver TheatreSports League, Loose Moose Theatre and CRUMBS.

Artistic Director of Edmonton's Rapid Fire Theatre (1995 - 2004), he corralled the talented cast of improvisors into creating consistent and exciting THEATRESPORTS shows, The RFT Improv Academy, The IMPROVAGANZA Festival and the innovative CHiMPROV. Together, RFT and Banigan have taken home ridiculous first place trophies from over a dozen international tournaments, including First Place in the World Domination Theatresports Tournament in Atlanta, which Banigan won playing solo..
Banigan has dabbled in scripted theatre as well: writing, acting and directing. The Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Theatre Awards of Edmonton has recognised Rapid Fire Theatre and Banigan with several nominations, two Outstanding Achievement awards, and special recognition for Outstanding Contribution to Theatre. Jacob Banigan is a creator of brainful comedy through the notorious Gordon's Big Bald Head.

Jacob was chosen by the organisers of the World Cup to form the Canadian Team. So he's the Cap'n.
THEATRESPORTS

This improv format was created in Calgary by drama professor Keith Johnstone in the late 1970’s. Since then it has been embraced by theatre companies around the world.

THEATRESPORTS is a popular form of improvisation whereby teams of actors challenge eachother to create scenes and stories with no prior planning, often with a “game” or restriction, to make the form yet more daunting. These challenges can be as simple as “a scene about a family” , as intimidating as “tell a story in reverse” or as inticing as “a musical about an audience member”. The list of challenges is ever growing.
With no script, the team often takes a suggestion from the audience to inspire the story: a location, a character trait, an occupation, a true story, etc.
A Host and/or Moderator ensures adherence to the given rules and the scenes are awarded points.

In this event, scenes will be scored by the collective audience. The language of the shows will be english, with encouragement towards theatre that transcends language barriers.
Brief Bios

Jacob Banigan (Edmonton) has played over 1300 improv shows in a stunning array of styles and structures. He teaches improv theory in North America and Europe, and has carried home over a dozen ridiculous first place Theatresports trophies with Rapid Fire Theatre. Banigan was Rapid Fire’s Artistic Director from 1995 to 2004.

Derek Flores (Calgary) was jumpstarted at Loose Moose Theatre, home of Theatresports, and has since been a global panic in The 3 Canadians and a metropolitan tornado on the mainstage at Second City.

Steve Sim (Winnipeg) is part of the international sensation CRUMBS, creator of IF… Improv Festival, Benevolent Emporer of The Manitoba Improv League, and two time winner of The Masters of The Obvious Theatresports Tournament.

There is over 40 years improv experience between them. These men represent the roots of Canadian Improv, and are on the leading edge of the current global improv renaissance.


(more elaborate bios elsewhere)
Improv in Canada


The development of Improv in Canada may be examined geographically. The vast distances between major cities have not allowed for regular exchange, competition and co-operation, as is found in Europe. To gather at a festival means serious air travel or days of driving. Days. A smart improv company uses these rare gatherings to learn from their peers, despite the strange accents and customs.

We may examine the scene economically. The common bond between improvisors across Canada is that a healthy income from improv is not guaranteed. Most shows are voluntary. Those who commit to the art are obviously in it for the joy of the performance. The few, the happy few, who have built a career in improv are by nature very skilled and artistically reliable; able to charm any audience against all odds.

Let us take a historic viewpoint: THEATRESPORTS was created by Keith Johnstone at the University of Calgary in the 1970's, then soon spread to Vancouver and Edmonton. Loose Moose Theatre, The Vancouver TheatreSports League and Rapid Fire Theatre and have since been dedicated to continuing productions of THEATRESPORTS. They are hothouses of new improv structures and focus on the education of young artists and development of the form. Over the course of 25 years, these three companies have acted as launching pads for a great portion of the talent in the Canadian comedy scene.
Meanwhile, THEATRESPORTS has become a global phenomenon. It has entertained millions, inspired many thousands of actors, spawned countless imitators, and secured Keith Johnstone a place in the history of 20th century theatre.

Improv Theatre can be viewed sociologically. Although the 'umbrella companies' offer a network of support and a history to draw from, independent creation allows artists and troupes to find their own voice and perform on their own terms. The abundance of smaller troupes gives a variety of improv to the scene and presents a challenge to those who wish to form another: Create Something New.

Meteorologically, we may propose that the harsh Canadian winters challenge the dedication of not only the artists, but also the audience. When the temperature drops, the level of appreciation for eachother in the theatre rises.

Finally, let us examine Canadian Improv realistically. When the show starts, everybody wants to have a good time… 'cause, jeez, it's cold out there, eh?
BEHOLD A LOGO!



THE CANADIAN SHiELD TOUR SCHEDULE

An easy to digest list!

Awesome Preview Show
Saturday, June 24, Graz: The Shield vs. Theater im Bahnhof
in Orpheum Extra at 19:30
-----
Mon June 26, Munich: Opening Ceremonies
-----
First Round:
Tue June 27, Dresden: Canada - Russia
-----
Wed June 28, Berlin: Canada - Zimbabwe
-----
Thur June 29, Berlin: Canada - Sweden
-----
Fri June 30, Hannover: Canada - Russia
-----
Sat July 1, Hamburg: Canada – Zimbabwe (That's Canada Day, watch out!)

Sun July 2, Bremen: Canada - Sweden
=====
Mon July 3, Hamburg or München: Quarter Finals
-----
Thu July 6, Dortmund or Nürnberg: Semi Finals
-----
Fri July 7, Berlin: FINAL MATCH
=====
Sat July 08, Berlin: The Long Night of Theatresports
THE WORLD CUP OF THEATRESPORTS

This is a big-ass gathering of improvisors. Check out the official page at....

http://www.theatersport-wm.de/

16 teams from 16 countries. 55 Matches.
June 26 we all meet for the opening ceremonies in Munich.
July 8 we all play The Long Night of Theatresports in Berlin.
In between there will be preliminary rounds, quarter finals, semi-finals and the climactic head to head show in Berlin on July 7.
The organisers have hinted at surprise shows too. When Germans hint at a surprise, you know they're gonna pull some kinda crazy crap!

Thursday, June 01, 2006


THE CANADIAN SHiELD

Brave. Diligent. Resourceful.

Derek Flores, Jacob Banigan and Steve Sim.

They are the formidable team assembled to defend Canada's home game THEATRESPORTS at the 2006 Theatresports World Championship in Germany.