Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Festival has ended, the guests gone home, the venue has been cleaned up... but wait! There's more! THE FINAL REPORT.

The final festival installment - THE FINAL REPORT!

Alrighty! To recap, we have covered off the following topics in previous posts:
And now, probably the least exciting part... capturing and reporting on how the festival went and what could be done better / differently.

Now, you might think that if you haven't applied and received government funding, then why bother with a Final Report?? We'll just "improvise" the next festival after all so what's the big deal? If this is your thought, then you are supporting my original mantra of "Don't get an improviser to run an improv festival!"

Well, put the improviser aside for a bit and put on your Producer/Project Manager hat...

If you don't reflect on the festival you are running the risk of repeating previous mistakes/frustrations and getting yourself into trouble. Sure, you can meet up with some of the festival volunteers and talk about it... but if you don't at least write down the lessons learned, chances are that six or more months from the end of your festival, the details of those lessons learned will be lost.

Also, for the 2 to 10 hours you'll put into this, it could save you lots of frustration and embarrassment.

Also, don't be lazy dumb ass!

Ok, back to the topic of this post - The Final Report.

So, what goes into the report? For starters, it's a combination of what you planned versus what happened in reality. Your table of contents could (but doesn't have to) include:
  • Summary of the festival (artistic & festival objectives)
  • Team members and their roles
  • Guest bios
  • Summary by Area
    • Program (your schedule of events)
    • Marketing/Media
    • Partnerships (did you partner with anyone? e.g. did you get someone to film the events?)
    • Sponsorship
    • Community Support (e.g. borrowing equipment from other theatre companies)
    • Audience (numbers/show/night)
    • Box Office (online versus advance versus door sales, results of any surveys)
    • Volunteer (time spent by volunteers, who received honorariums, etc.)
    • Financial Statement
    • Samples of Promotional Materials
    • Plans for Next Festival
Each section should capture the successes and challenges/areas for improvement.

If you received funding (cash and/or in-kind) from sponsors (whether they are private sector or public sector), they will want to see some kind of final report to validate why they helped you out in the first place (put yourself in the shoes of the person within the organization who supported you - they need to justify to their superiors that the money was well spent!).

Right, so, time for some examples... these are by no means the only way you can capture lessons learned, so feel free to come up with whatever works for you and your team.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Where does the money for festivals come from?

VIIF 2008 - Group: Scratch - Photo Credit: Neil Gurton
Some real numbers...
Writing up a Vision is one small part of making a festival happen and be successful! For me, the scarier part was figuring out how we could fund the project!

You might be thinking "But hey, won't door sales pay for the festival??"...

Well, I guess it depends on a number of things:

  • Size and scale of the event
  • Performer compensation model
  • Fixed costs (like the venue, liability insurance)
  • Ticket prices
  • Other revenue sources (e.g. concession)
How about we look at a real example?  Let's take VIIF 2008 and figure out what the ticket prices (on average) who have to have been should no grant money have been raised. We'll just look at the real expenses and will not include the in-kind expenses.

Looking at the profit/loss report for VIIF 2008, we had a total of $16,823 worth of expenses. The festival ran from October 2 - 4, 2008.   The venue could fit realistically 150 people per show.

From ticket sales, we made $5,799.  So, to run on ticket sales alone, we would have to generate an additional $11,024. If you look at it percentage wise, our ticket prices would have to be increased by 190%

Let's look at those now.
  • General admission (single performance) would have to be increased to $19 from $10
  • Student admission (single performance) would have to be increased to $15.20 from $8
Getting this much for tickets for an improvised performance is a complete non-starter based on my experience with past shows and having attended a number of festivals in other countries (Berlin, Germany; Seattle, WA, USA; Vancouver, BC, Canada).

So, that leaves fundraising as the only option I could come up with.

Fundraising - How hard can it be?
Good question. At first, it can feel very overwhelming, especially after you look at the budget you came up with while you were visioning what the festival might look like... (and probably enjoying a few alcoholic beverages at the time)

I broke funding sources into two categories:

1) Government Sources (Federal, Provincial, Municipal); and
2) Private Sources (National, Regional & Local Business)

Everything under #1 is what you have to tackle first.  This is because most of these funders require you to compete for funding by submitting proposals well in advance of your festival date. Many of them have a number of conditions your project must meet in order to be considered for their respective funding programs (for instance, most funders will not support competitive theatre events).

A well thought-out Vision document will help you when writing your grant proposals, but that's only part of the work.  What each funder wants you to provide is often slightly different, so it's not a matter of writing one proposal and submitting it to all the different funding organizations.

You can sometimes find external service providers who will write the grant applications for you (which we tried for VIIF 2004), but in reality, if you are the producer and the main visionary, you are the best person to write the proposal. At least have someone within your organization who you work closely with write it if you don't have the time (and if you don't you might want to think very carefully about running the festival at all!).

Funders who fall under category #2 also cannot be left until the last minute (except if you are looking for door prizes, for example). Generally it is best to start that work 4 to 6 months in advance of your festival. Another thing you need to be aware of is when your potential sponsor's fiscal year end occurs. The reason is that if you leave approaching them until their fiscal year end, in all likelihood, they will have already allocated their sponsorship budgets and won't have any cash (or in-kind) money left for you!

Ok, so you've figured out who your potential funders/sponsors are, now you have to spell out what's in it for them! That means coming up with how people can sponsor your event (most important for category #2 sources). You should also lay out this information in some kind of sponsorship opportunities document - that way when sponsors ask, you can provide this document and ensure you give the same pitch every time!

One final note - when applying for any grants - READ THE FINE PRINT! If you miss speaking to any of their conditions in your proposal or miss-read their form, you are likely going to be DISQUALIFIED.  For me, if I added up all the time I spent on one proposal, I'd say it was close to 30 hours work. Miss one condition and that 30 hours was spent for nothing!

In summary, here are the documents referenced in this blog entry:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vision? What's that?

Figured it was time to sit down and type out some more VIIF lessons learned... one of them was the need for a consolidated vision of what the festival was going to be!

In 2003 when we first started, we had a vision - it was "Let's pull together some groups, put on a festival and hope that we don't explode by the end!"

At that time, I had already looked at some other festivals (including having participated in a few) and decided that in addition to show casing local/regional/international groups, we wanted to offer a workshop to most participants and have some type of improv jam involving members from all groups. We had Randy Dixon run the workshop and our jams were great!

The thing is, when you are pulling together a bunch of volunteers to produce a festival, having to explain the vision (including budget, media strategy, etc.) over and over again is tedious... in addition to potentially forgetting to communicate some key piece of information.

For VIIF 2003, we kept that risk under control by having weekly team meetings from pretty much the start of having decided to run the festival! In hindsight, we didn't have to meet that often... but at the time we were all excited about the festival's potential, so meeting regularly wasn't a big deal.

At the end of VIIF 2003, I gathered feedback from our guests and volunteers, put on my thinking cap and decided that the next one needed a formal vision document - think of it as one-stop shopping for everything you want to know about that year's festival - team contacts/roles, vision statement, budget, media strategy, guests, etc.

Now, the examples I am providing probably seem pretty complex/large... but that comes from my Day Job background. Bottom line is that you need to pull together something that works for you and your team!

Here are the vision documents from VIIF 2004 - VIIF 2010...
Next up... how the heck do you find $$ to run the festival???

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to run an International Improv Festival...

Way back in 2003 the Impromaniacs were getting restless... asking questions like "is there more to life that this?"

Then Alistair Cook put the idea of putting on Blank Slate - he told us to reach out to Randy Dixon, Artistic Director of Unexpected Productions (Seattle, WA).

We took his suggestion to heart and the idea morphed (for whatever reason) into "Let's put on a festival!"... then it turned into a game of "Yes! and.."...

"And let's invite improv groups from Victoria..!"

"And let's invite improv groups from Vancouver!"

"And let's invite international improv groups... like Unexpected Productions!"

By that time the wheels were put in motion to what would become a run of a total of five festivals... 2003... 2004... 2006... 2008 and finally 2010!

The thing is.. improvisors are great at "Yes, And!"... but sometimes we fall down when the "new" idea turns into the "routine" which eventually feels less like "play" and more like "work".

My first moral of the Improv Festival world is this... don't get Improvisors to run a festival! Get a great improvisor to set the artistic direction and find a team of non-improvisors to run the show... and make sure you get amazing guests.... notice how I refer to the improvisors as "guests" as opposed to "artists". My reasoning is this... if you put on a festival and treat the people you are inviting as your guests (so, show them an amazing time!), then they will naturally want to come back... will tell their friends... and before you know it, you've got a fest that people want to attend!

My own background is that of project manager/organizer/team leader... not something you necessarily find in the improv world... so the skills I drew on to run this festival were based on my work-life and how I adapted it to fit to an arts festival. I also looked back at previous (small scale) festivals we put in... Alternative Arts Fest in 1992, Singe 1997 and Singe 2000. It's important to take the time to learn from your mistakes... and try and do better the next time (so having some continuity between festivals is a good thing... history is important!).

After the 2003 festival, being the type of person that I am - as in "why work harder... work smarter!" and wanting to build a repeatable event which others could partake in... myself, along with Briana Rayner and Neil Gurton put in the work to document what we did to put in the festival... in the hopes that it would make things smoother year after year.... and to some extent it did. This was a work in progress... and still would be if we were still around and putting on festivals...

Here's the VIIF Production Manual for your enjoyment. We've shared it with a variety of groups over the years.. we used to ask people to submit suggestions for improvement... but never did receive any... I am in no way saying it's perfect!

I tried to break a festival down into "streams" which each stream having a designated "leader" (many times one actually person filled multiple leadership roles... not always intentional... sometimes it's just hard to find people to fill the roles who can make it happen).

My streams were...
  • Event
  • Funding
  • Sponsorship
  • Guest
  • Volunteer
  • Venue
  • Media
  • Project Management
I split Funding and Sponsorship because the timing on each is different... Funding Stream is mean't to cover applications for government grants (which often have to be applied for months in advance). Sponsorship is mean't for local business sponsors... whether it's a large in-kind TV/Radio sponsorship, or smaller cash sponsorships... in-kind etc.

Because I have to describe to people the different roles, a broke out this information into separate documents...
I also made the effort to talk to other people in the field, whether it be professional improvisor types from other cities, directors of other types of festivals (e.g. Victoria Film Festival, Victoria Fringe Fesitval)... plus just surfing around and learing from other improv festivals. This is important... don't operate in a vacuum and never assume you know everything... if you do you're just arrogant!

Finally, the words I remember from one of our many mentors, David C. Jones, were "Look at what someone else is doing and do an even better job!"

Next post... VIIF Vision... Final Reports....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Impromaniacs Last Huzzah!

Intrepid Theatre Club
#2 – 1609 Blanshard Street
Victoria, BC

28 April · 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Join the Impromaniacs on Thursday, April 28 starting at 7pm as we celebrate 21 years in existence and our last show as we're closing our doors forever!

We've got special guests....

- Poetry stylings of Missie Peters
- Stand-up comedy of Wes Lord
- Sensational singing from Aleisha Kalina
- Improv stylings of Alistair Cook & the !nstant Shop Crew
- Alumni coming from Vancouver, Victoria & Toronto!
- Graham Myers of Table 23 Comedy
...and much much more!

Expect an evening of sharing experiences/memories and live theatre!

Admission is a sliding scale of $5 to $10

See you there!

Impromaniacs Update

Dear Friends,

I am writing to give you an update on the Impromaniacs.

After 21 years in existence, we’ll be dissolving as a Society in March 2011.  There is probably more than one reason for this... the biggest one being is that there just isn’t an interest in putting in the time to keep it going.  Myself, I’m moving away from the group to pursue my own interests after having spent the past 20 years running the Impromaniacs in some shape or another.  I had hoped that it would continue with some other individual(s) immerging as a leader/driving force... but that doesn’t seem meant to be.

I think there are many things to be proud of – we’ve produced the Alternative Arts Fest in ’92, two “Singes” (’97 & ’99), five instalments of the Victoria International Improv Festival (VIIF 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010) which has allowed us to make connections with Improvisers all over the globe... we’ve been the lucky recipients of large television and radio sponsorships, we’ve been successful in bringing in both government and private sponsorships (in-kind and cash) to put on amazing events, we’ve learned from some of the best... gone on road trips to observe others improvisers, participated in the Vancouver Improv Festival (three times), Vancouver TheatreSports St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (twice), produced two Cage Match Series, hosted numerous individual groups (stretching from Vancouver to Slovenia), been invited to perform on the Upfront Theatre stage in Bellingham, gone on many memorable camping trips... seen many many people join and grow with the group and have put on numerous memorable performances (mixed with a few that are best chalked up to a learning experience).

The mantra of the group has always been one of support and coaching – helping people grow as improvisers by learning from our own experiences and from others.  For me, it’s been rewarding to have a positive effect on people’s lives – either directly or indirectly.  I have met and made connections with many people – all of which I would never have met had I not joined the Impromaniacs back in September 1990.

So, I am hopeful that we can have one last gathering – not sure what form that will take – the second weekend of April 2011 (in Victoria) with any friends/alumni/fans/colleagues who would like to come and share some memories... jam a bit or just plain hang out.  If you are up for a trip to Victoria or might be in the neighbourhood, let me know as this will help me figure out what we can do.


Jonathan Argue
Treasurer, Impromaniacs Theatre Company Society

Monday, December 20, 2010

Road trip to Bellingham, WA

Having a grand ol' time with our Upfront Theatre Improv Brothers & Sisters!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Todd Felton

My name is Todd, and I'm an Impromaniac. At least, I used to be. Four years (1999-2002) as performer and part of that time as co-director, until my incarceration impeded further improv-ing. Ok it wasn't incarceration. But nevertheless, that time with the Impromaniacs was a period that covered some of the best times of my life, ever. The Impromaniacs' continued teachings and improvements, and environment of complete trust and no-fear, forged strong bonds with many coperformers that still exist to this day. I've been gone 7 years, and many friendships are just as strong now as they ever were, and will probably continue to do so for eons yet to come. Especially Andrea, Jonathan, and Silvia, I love you all to death, and cherish our friendships so incredibly deeply. Highlights: trust exercises while camping on Saltspring! Saturday night post-performance partying at that bar in the Strathcona Hotel! Darren Borrowman throwing an old woman off the bus in Singe Festival 2002! Meeting Ryan Stiles & Colin Mochrie! My life acted out for my going away party! Halloween party planning - FOCUS! Althea! The search for... spatula! Big Booty!
I moved to San Diego in 2002 and immediately checked out all the improv troupes. And joined none. Why? They weren't good enough. The Impromaniacs that I remember is a unique place full of warmth, love, and warm squishy goodness, when players could perform as a true ensemble, growing and bettering their skills, and just gosh darn be having fun doing it, telling a story and doing it well.
Thank you, Impromaniacs of old, for accepting me, growing me, making me part of your evolution. It was more than a pleasure to be a part of -- it was very special. Congrats on 20 years, Impromaniacs. I'm proud to have been a part of it. I leave you with... bunnybunnybunnybunnybunnybunnyBUNNY!
Todd Felton

Steve May

So many memories....

Warmups in the back of Mocambo's - which always confused the folks who had to use the washroom.

The scenes that worked - the ones that didn't - and how little difference there was between them.

Working with consistently excellent improvisers - and making friends from around the world.

Rayner consistently breaking up with me - the underlying tension was so obvious...

Doing 4 amazing shows in Bellingham - and then being recognized in the Pancake House the next day - "Hey, you're those improv guys!  You're awesome!"
overall feeling - distinctly squidgy.

How much did the Impromaniacs mean to me?  Does the fact that my first son is named Jonathan mean nothing to you people?

Tim Carlson

I remember being so excited becoming an Impromaniac! I was seventeen when I first joined the troupe. I was honoured that they decided to take someone so young and still in the Canadian Improv Games! Over the next year and a half I had the privilege of playing on stage with some of the most fun people in the world. The Impromaniacs allowed me to grow as an improviser and continue to challenge myself, not to mention fail! Highlights included playing with Scratch, the Upfront theatre and Narobov. There are no lowlights! They are wonderful organization that has always been supportive of all my artistic endevours. Not to mention inviting me back to perform with a new group I am a part of!
All the best!!

Silvia Fazekas

Hmm, memories of the Impromaniacs... Well of these, there are far too many, and several which should probably stay forgotten!

I joined the Impromaniacs in 1997 and was a member for 8 years, until I moved to Australia. I was in Grade 10 and 14 years old (when they still allowed us kids to audition). Much like Darren's experience, Diane Hayashi, the school Japanese and Social Studies teacher popped into my Drama class and announced that the Impromaniacs were having auditions that weekend. I had already loved being in the spotlight, but I was a bit shy. A friend and I decided to try our luck and go together. Saturday came along, I went to the audition, heart jumping out of my chest... I walked into the room and low and behold, my friend wasn't there. It was too late to back out at this stage, I had been spotted by the cast, like a gazelle spotted by... well... another gazelle! So I stayed and I played and somehow, I was called back!! I made it through the three rounds of auditions and then another miracle - I've managed to fool them into thinking that I had any sort of talent!

And so began the tale of the Russian Princess... (Yes, somehow, all of my characters ended up being Russian, an often, there was a yak in the scene!)

After my audition, I remember many more - Ryan playing 'the Dating Game"... "Bachelor #1, If you had a personality and could date anyone, which would you choose: a giraffe or a gazebo?". Steve May hurling himself on the floor at full speed. Anna's door kicking old lady, Jonathan playing neurotic characters and tapping his head, Morgan's German accent, Diane and I donning our milk suits in space, etc...
Rehearsal space changed ... occasionally: Camosun College, Craigflower (haunted) school house, the meeting room at Diane's, the field at Vic High, Peter's apartments common room, the park in James Bay (drew crowds of people who thought we were most likely insane...), the school in James Bay, the Upstairs Cabaret.

We had many shows: Mocambos - running up and down the stairs while carrying a Yak when playing Quest "Switch", "Switch", "Switch", "Switch". Camosun College - Our Improv Soap Opera, Drainage Gulch (I was a fortune teller). The Diner, and more...

Improv gave me the skills which I now use at work and in life - face the void, think on the spot, how to capture an audience, and entertain! I developed my confidence in general and had people to laugh at my stupid, stupid jokes - luckily they had them too. Improv was my creative outlet which I so very much needed and now very much miss.

I made many good friends in Improv. The cast changed a lot over 8 years and by the end there were only 2 other people had been there from the time that I started - Jonathan and Diane. Despite the changing cast, it was always very rich and the personalities always complimented each other, both on and off stage. We had our Tuesday evening movies, team building camping trips to Saltspring Island with evening campfires on the beach, camping at Miracle Beach and French Beach, birthday parties, BBQs, trips to Vancouver, and again, etc...

Eight years can hardly be summed up in my mini-novel - my memories of my improv days are some of the most vivid from that time of my life! I had a great time and many laughs.
Thank you, Impromaniacs!

Congratulations on achieving 20 years! Looking forward to many more.
Silvia Fazekas

Shannon Whissell

Before I even moved to Victoria, when I was in the city house hunting, my friend Morgan told me he was going to an improv audition that week and invited me to come along. So we went, and we had fun, and the next thing I knew I was living in Victoria and part of this amazing, fun, creative pack of people who had real lives but came togther to express themselves and entertain others.

Being a part of the Impromaniacs provide me with the most amazing transition to my new home, created friendships I still cherish, and reconnected me with the ham I'd forgotten I love to be! And, I get to be the person who sees Briana Rayner or Morgan Cranny or numerous other Impromaniacs who now pop up around town and on TV and say "I knew them when!" Trips to Vancouver's TheatreSports, workshops with great improvisers here in Victoria, and being involved with planning the first Victoria International Improv Festival have all contributed to my loving Victoria and being connected here. Even though I've moved on, I'll always value the people who taught me to BRING IT!

Keep on bringing the laughs, Impromaniacs, the impact you have continues to build after all these years!

"YES LET'S" (or is that "yes, and"? ... I always did get that wrong).
XO Shannon

Scott Fidyk

I met my wife, Connie, during an IMPROMANIACS practice many years ago. We hit it off during a scene and it/she made an indelible impression on me that prompted me to remain in touch with her long after she had left.
Cut to years later and we now have three children, mostly charming, partially innocent and all very silly. Must be from her side of the family.
My memories are mixed of those early years:
    • I was a member of two groups back then and in a big hurry to learn as much about this craft as I could. I recall toting around a notebook and writing copious notes.
    • Roy (Langdon), Elvy Del Bianco and Bill Nance and I seemed to connect well together on stage. We enjoyed each others company.
    • I recall Roy being one of the most creative talents I had ever encountered. He would not suffer fools though and as such did not get along with everyone. He had a tendency to ruffle feathers.
    • Elvy was street smart and savvy in a small "p" politic kind of way.
    • Bill was a wild card, off on a tangent in one breath and absolutely brilliant the next. You never knew what you were going to get with him, which was both a blessing and a curse. Oscillate wildly.
    • I learned to play in between all of them, tending to bind the story together, linking the creative brilliance of Bill or Roy with the tech talk of Elvy.

Scott Bisgrove

The Impromaniacs were and are a breath of fresh air.  I especially enjoyed the shows we performed at small coffee shops in Victoria.  Jonathan you are the rock of this group!   My hats off to you!  Long live the Impromaniacs!  Happy 20th anniversary Impros.   Scott Bisgrove    ( I now live in Edmonton with my partner Paula and I work as an elevator mechanic).

Robert Conway

Back in 1990, I was in rehearsals for a play that was in Langford with a fellow named Alexander.  Alexander and I, both living downtown, would carpool to rehearsals together, and on one of these drives he mentioned he was with an improv troupe called the Impromaniacs.  "What's improv?" I asked innocently.  He suggested I come see an upcoming show at the Belfry theatre, and my life was forever changed.  Watching Julian, James, Clark, Erin, Bill and others strut there unscripted stuff onstage, I felt the clouds part and the God-light shine down on me.  "I can do that!"  I announced to my girlfriend "Hell, I DO do that!"  With little encouragement needed, I found out when and where the group met and within a week I was a member.  One of the last members, as  I recall, that was able to join simply because I was willing to show up Saturdays at 9:AM to rehearse.  My first show with the group was one of many shows at Fisher 100, Camosun College.  After I rolled up my shirt and thrusted about the stage as Madonna in a game of Roll With, one of my fellow performers looked at me offstage and said "Man, you were born to this."  I spent just over 2 short, great years with the Impromaniacs, leaving when I moved to Vancouver.  Since then, I have been a member of the Vancouver TheatreSports League and Courtenay's TheatreWorks Comedy Troupe.  I co-founded the short-lived Caught in the Headlights in Nanaimo and have guest appeared with Spilt Milk on many occasions, but you never forget your first love.  Congratulations, Impromaniacs on 20 years.  May you have 100 more.  -Robert Conway

Morgan Cranny

It's hard to believe that it's been almost 9 years since I joined the Impromaniacs, a truly life altering event. I think I was always drawn to performing but I was a self conscious youth and it wasn't until I was 30 that I decided that I needed to outlet my creative side and I didn't care what people thought... as much. I was working, as I am now in forestry and my friend, an work colleague at the time, Steve (Improv Alumni) suggested I come to auditions. I said I would think about it and quickly decided that, yes indeed, it was time to stop talking about doing something creative and dive in. Well, the audition date drew near and I got more and more nervous, almost nervous enough to bail on the audition but I managed to drag myself there. Despite how lovely and inviting everyone was, I was ridiculously nervous. I was pacing and sweating as they led us through different games. Despite that, I was having fun and knew I was on to something. My old insecurities were riding tall though and I was sure I wouldn't be asked back... but I was wrong and here we are almost 9 years later. I am so happy I made that leap and that the Impromaniacs welcomed me in. I've worked with fantastic improvisers from around the world and made friends with so many. That spark got me interested in more and more theatre and it's my passion. I've chosen the beginning for my memory but really there are so many awesome moments, my first performance at Mocambo, the festivals and road trip to Bellingham to name a few. I hope the Impromaniacs keep going strong.

Michael Lord

I will always look back upon my time spent with the Impromaniacs with nostalgic sadness. The time spent, either every tuesday evening, or occasionally performing were moments I will treasure forever. I cannot, ironically, think of any one specific moment as a special memory. My memory works best on emotion, and I remember feeling GREAT when ever I was a part of this unique and amazing group. My biggest regret is not being able to do more while I was there. Its not the same here in Vancouver, heck, you have to PAY to attend an improv rehearsal in this expensive city.

Maria Hawkins (nee Fantillo)

Lets get right down to the nitty gritty here....I nearly peed myself at every show with the Impromainiacs. Mainly because I was among such talented improvers and of course I would laugh too hard. The people, the creativeness and the chemistry on stage was my favorite "memory feeling" of being with the Impromaniacs. The groups diverseness made for some very interesting skits that would bring out the oddest tales at times but usually the biggest laughs. I got married in 2004 and the Impromaniacs performed at the wedding. Anyone that was at the wedding always comments about what a great wedding it was and how they loved the show. All credit goes to that show for setting my wedding off to a great start. Even more impressive was they really had to dig deep for details about myself and the groom. So with the littlest of facts they made an amazing show. Those moments when I drift off I love how sometimes it's the Impromaniacs years that I think about. Congrats on the 20th anniversary !

Kimberly Lovatt (nee Pinel)

What time is it?  Its time for an Impromaniacs flashback!!!!!!  What can I say, some of the best times of my life were rehearsing with the Impromaniacs, and I certainly made some of my closest and dearest friends in this troupe of enthusiastically crazy cavorters!  I have even taken to teaching pupils at my school several of the games that I learnt from the Impromanicas.  So, it is with pride and fond memories of 'Speghetti Arms Girl' and 'Mildred' that I hold up my toasting flute to 20 years of the Impromaniacs!

Julian Polzin

Hi Jonathan and Impromaniacs! 20 years wow!

Congratulations. In thinking of what to write as far as memories go, was for me, much more difficult then I had anticipated. A few things always stood out for me and I have finally gathered enough of my thoughts to share what I was a part of from I think week two of the Impromaniacs being created. One particular show we did at the Belfry Theatre which amazed me, involved one of our members James Mckillop. He was simply going back to his seat to sit down. Nothing more, and nothing less. It was the opening and each member would come out and be introduced then grab their seat sort of thing. James was in the green room and missed his calling by only a few moments and when he came out he literally just walked over to his seat and sat down. The audience started laughing because well James even in just walking to his seat was funny. I distinctly remember thinking "wow" if this guy can get laughs just for sitting down then this improv stuff is up my alley. I loved the energy and the explosiveness of what could be created and living "in the moment". I then went on from Impromaniacs to partake in a great deal of projects and other Improv groups.

Someone asked me once if I knew Jonathan Argue and I laughed and said do I know him, well if it in part was not for me he would never "possibly" have become an impromaniacs member. I was working at Overtime a restaurant beside the arena known as the "Barn on Blanshard." One of the servers that I worked with was named Cole Penny and I thought he was funny. I told him he was an improviser and just didn't know it yet. He came out to a couple of rehearsals and although it did not rock his world, he brought out a young fellow at the time who took a great interest in the Impromaniacs. That fellow was Jonathan Argue!

So I will always enjoy the links of the past and present and will always have the highest regard for the people that made Impromanics what it was, and what it is today. I love the fun, friends, and memories and want to thank all of you kindred spirits that I had the blessing to share many fantastic improv moments with. Congratulations!

Jonathan Argue

I joined the Impromaniacs in September 1990 at the urging of a friend, Cole Penny.  Cole and I had met at an Improv class that was being taught by Kate Rubin and Paddy Crawford in the Spring of 1990.  So, we show up at an Impromaniacs workshop at the Fernwood Community Association on a Saturday morning... and basically, they didn't kick us out.  My "initiation" to the group was to participate in "hot seat" - you stand in the middle of the circle and face each person on the outside of the circle one at a time.  They can ask you one question which you must answer truthfully.  Of all the questions asked, the only one I remember today is James McKillop's question "Would you have sex with a cow for 1 Million dollars?".

As of 2009, I will have been involved with the group for going on 19 years... so I guess that says how much this group means to me, doesn't it?

Jordan Harbour

Back in the early 90s, my friend Quinn Fletcher and I discovered the Impromaniacs. We were fresh into our teens, and with an insatiable desire to act, we came to every one of their shows. Sitting up at the front, we would shout out suggestions and compete to see which of us would be called on to act as puppeteers or human props. One evening, after an enthusiastic round of Freeze, Jon Argue asked if we would be interested in coming to an audition. Would we!

The rest is a comic book. We spent some fantastic years with the troupe, rehearsing in the attic of an old church, and giving performances at Camosun College. But all good things run their course. Quinn moved on to Montreal after high school, and I stayed until University conquered my life.

Flash forward to 2009 and I'm back in the troupe! It's a whole new crowd and a completely different approach, but damn I'm loving it! I guess the Impromaniacs mean a lot to me.

Jennifer Ferguson

Every memory with the Impromaniacs is a great one. I remember the day I came back and "auditioned" again after a few years away. I walked in the room and was welcomed with open arms. I remember we were all standing in a circle and you said that I didn't have to audition again because I could sing. I had always been confident in my abilities but had never felt so appreciated for it. Coming back to the Impromaniacs was like coming home from a long trip. I walked into an amazing group of people who I could call my friends and family.

I remember my final show. Standing up on stage with some of my best friends. Putting my heart on my sleeve and leaving my mind blank to live in the moment. I lived every scene that night and was so moved by the emotions that were displayed. I don't remember anything that happened in the show I just remember it being my best show. It was one of the saddest moments in my life and one of the happiest. Even now it brings tears to my eyes.
Because of my time in the Impromaniacs I have managed to make so much more of my life. I am now teaching improv to local youth. I have been nominated for an award in my community for the work I do with Kids. I am much more confident in the board room because I know there is nothing that gets said that can throw me. There is nothing more shocking that what gets said on a stage. You learn to react with sincerity and confidence.
I don't know what else to say other than I wouldn't be who I am today if I had never joined Impromaniacs, I also wouldn't have met Graham, and wouldn't be as outgoing and confident as I am. I owe a lot to the Impromaniacs.

Diane Gallagher-Hayashi

My favourite memories are:
-losing it on stage with Peter in Bellingham
-Performing at Mocambos with Clark.  Clark was doing karate and a street guy came in off the street and offered to really fight Clark.
-Hosting the first Singe Festival - audience at the Kaliedascope was full and they went berzerk over our performance.  Best energy in any show I have ever done.
-Doing First Date at the Belfry.  The guy we interviewed described a somewhat less than successful first date - when he came to the conclusion of his story we realized that this actually was their first date!

Darren Borrowman

 Hi Jonathan,

I am sorry for not getting back to you earlier. As always, life is busy, but I have been racking my brain trying to think of a special memory, or hilarious moment from the Impromaniacs, but had a hard time. Maybe you want to simply use this email.
I can't think of a specific moment during my time with the Impromaniacs that stood out, because the entire time was really special. All of the different members that I rehearsed and performed with had their own hilarity and amusements.

From joining during the SINGE festival in.... ummm.... was it 1997? Ulp. I don't know. I think I was in Grade 11 or 12. Diane Hyashi was the one that introduced me, being the Japanese teacher at my high school. But I didn't take Japanese. So I don't actually remember at the moment, just how I got involved.

Anyway, after the SINGE, I was invited to be a member of the Impromaniacs. I ended up being a member for over 3 solid years.

It was a lot of fun, rehearsing every week in Fernwood. Myuki, Diane's daughter, was 5(ish?) and would sit in on all of the rehearsals, often stealing focus. Somehow, I ended up being called 'Geronimo'.

We'd perform at Mocambos, where the 'stage' was the size of my bathtub (-which is small), and being at the entrance to the coffee shop, anytime someone entered during the show, they unwittingly ended up being a part of the scene.

After the shows, some of us would go out for a beverage, often of the alcoholic variety. I am pretty sure that I was still underage, but I seem to remember burning my lips on a flaming sambuca and dancing to "You and me Baby ain't nothing but mammals" in the Sticky Wicket with Andrea, Todd and Kim.
Hehehheheheh. Good times.
Or working at Helmcken House with Marc Vermette, Andrea and Kim. Wow. 2 great christmasses. And it was very Christmassy.
Later, after I had left Victoria (and by result, the Impromaniacs), I ended up travelling to Europe with Kim and Andrea. Sure, we didn't stay together for the whole trip, but the times we were together were fantastic! Later, Jonathan came to visit me in Cardiff, and we toured around a bit.
I think that what I am most happy about from my experience and time with the Impromaniacs is that it introduced me to a whole bunch of really great people, who, although I may not see on a regular basis, have shared something special.

This may have been a trip, a night out at the bar, a performance on a closet-sized stage, or just a laugh before rehearsal.  But these times and these people ended up being a big part of my formative adult years. And it was a really great influence.
I went to one of the shows in October, and loved seeing new people performing familiar improv scenes. I was completely blown away by the second half of the show- long format improv. We had just started thinking about this when I was involved (and this is now nearing 10 years ago). I has evolved and grown so much within the Impromaniacs, and all of the performers in the scene did a fantastic job of staying in it, and tying all of the scenes and characters together, while keeping it funny.
I am really happy that the Impromaniacs is still around. I have a feeling that this is largely due to you, Jonathan. Thank you and congratulations!
I hope to be over to Victoria soon, and will certainly let you know if I do.

Daniel Cownden

I was a self indulgent, inconsiderate, irresponsible teenager when I joined in 2001, and what improvements were made on those fronts over the six years I was with the Impromaniacs were, at least in part, because of improv. Although I suspected it at the time now with a little distance and perspective I know that the Impromaniacs is the best organization ever and that Jonathan is my hero. I find myself reminiscing at parties about my glory days as improvisor with the Impromaniacs. I love that we have the least hip name ever. I love that it's still happening and look forward to rejoining the fold if/when I ever return to Victoria. As far as specific memories: The work shop with Yuri from yellow man group where we did the yoga and the arm talking, learning about facing the void, all the sweet hippy improv workshops with Alistair and Dave, being a part of several fantastic shows down in Bellingham, and years worth of beautiful rehearsals.
It's pretty much embarassing how much I love the Impromaniacs.

D'Arcy Briggs

The Impromaniacs are the lifeblood of the Victoria Improv Scene. Creating festivals, hosting Theatersports, and doing a regular show every month is no easy task. The Impromaniacs have been able to pull off all of these tasks with the highest goal in mind - improv for improv's sake.

Chris Gabel

My favorite Impromaniacs memory is from our first (I think it was the first...) road trip to Upfront Theater in Bellingham (January 2005?). I was not performing, but I came along to watch the shows and hang out with the Upfront Theater players. After the shows and socializing were done, we tried getting some sleep. I was staying in a room with Peter Abrahams and Austin Davis. The three of us were still chatting in the dark, but I was drifting off to sleep. After what seemed like a long time without anyone saying anything, Austin asked, "What if cyborgs were real?" We just lost it. Peter, Austin and I laughed solid for about 5 minutes. I wanted to stop but I couldn't. I could barely breathe. Eventually I was able to regain my composure, but my abs felt like I had done a hundred situps. In retrospect, it wasn't all that funny, but it was one of those perfect combinations of punchiness and the way Austin asked the question. I still smile whenever I think about it.

Briana Rayner

I remember going to my first show to watch the Impromaniacs, and when they announced auditions were coming up I got nervous and excited at the prospect of getting to explore improv more. I was welcomed into the most amazing, warm group of people. Some of my closest friendships were forged in my time spent performing, workshopping, and camping with the impros. I was honoured to work with Jonathan co-producing the first Victoria International Improv Festival, where not only did we get to meet incredible improvisors from around the world, but where I met a really nice boy I still like to hang out with. Congrats on your anniversary and I look forward to some celebrations in person!

Bill Nance

As a founding member of The Impromaniacs, I of course have many memories coursing through my brain. The single moment which I keep coming back to time and time again, though, is one which represents to me the true spirit of improv.
We were playing at Camosun College. This was nearing the end of the evening, and we had just launched into "Freeze Tag," which was usually our signature end game. For some reason still unknown to this day, there were two loaves of French bread backstage. It was one of those situations when everybody sees something but nobody wants to be the first one to comment. So, none of us did.
"Freeze Tag" continued. Suddenly the bread appeared onstage. Where had it come from? Who had brought it on? I don't remember. But what I do remember is the great James McKillop and the marvelous Robert Conway launching into a Cavemen scene using the bread as a prop. James and Robert set out amongst the audience chanting "Bread. Bread. Let's beat them with bread." Not to be outdone, the rest of the cast used the bread in our scenes. We wielded it, hit each other on the head with it, even ate it, I think. It was pure and beautiful; a moment when we took what we saw and had fun with it. There was no judgment, no blocking, no denying the Reality of The Bread.
I was an Impromaniac from 1989 - 1995, and proud to be one, too. Improv has given my life a direction and a focus. Nearly twenty years later, I still encounter people who ask if I am still doing improv. My answer is and always will be: "Of course. Why aren't you?"
Thank you, Impromaniacs, for the training, memories, and good times. Keep the improv torch lit for future generations.

Anna Mcgarvie

I joined the Impromaniacs in 1998/99 (I can't quite remember.) But what I do remember is the fun that I had being apart of such a fabulous troupe. Every Tuesday night was workshop night and it was always such fun. Everyone who was in the troupe was so talented and it was such a blast working and performing with them. For a little while I had the privilege of being apart of the Directing Team. It was a new challenge for me and I had a great time. I performed in the first Victoria International Improv Festival and that was the most fun I have ever had doing improv. I have such great memories and I am so proud to have been apart of the Impromaniacs. Congrats you guys!

Andrea Kennedy

The Impromaniacs...
I was seventeen when my substitute teacher (Theresa) told me that I should go to some auditions for a group she was involved with. It was 1994 (I think!) and I was nervous, terrified, and completely unprepared. But miraculously I was invited to join and thus began some of the most poignant, amazing exhilarating, and significant moments of my post adolescent life.
What is the thing that I remember and love the most about The Impromaniacs? It's the people. These people who by opening themselves to being subjected to all manner of obscurities, open themselves to sharing in a friendship that reaches beyond borders. The members of The Impromaniacs from 1994 - 2001 are the people who helped to shape my life into what it is today. They are my mentors, my friends, the people I laugh with, cry with, and of course sometimes eat ice cream or drink with.
Each member gave a little part of themselves to the art of performing, every time they were handed a factory again they had to dig deeper to find something new, something different to help the story along. And each time they dug they gave a little more of themselves to us, to the audience. They revealed stories from their pasts whether funny or maybe slightly disturbing and allowed everyone to share in those moments. By doing this we created a place of what I can only describe as warm fuzzies. Some of the most important people in my life were involved in The Impromaniacs and it's the improv I have to thank for that. There are too many names to credit you all. But you know who you are.

Funny memories? Well there are a whole lot. I don't think I stopped laughing for 6 or (is it 7?) years. I miss that. Those times are incredibly hard to duplicate. I did learn though. I learned that a Singles Dating Event is not a better venue than a Wake. I learned that even with children in the audience my mouth could still say testicles instead of tentacles. as a Performance Director I learned that sometimes auditioners want to be in the company sooo badly they stalk you on roller skates and call you names, I learned that an Improviser will bash their body around and possibly get mild concussion at least once every few shows just for the laughs, I learned that being a chicken is noble, but being a cross-eyed window licking spinster is scarier and possibly more fun. I learned that people are unpredictable. I learned that no matter how much time passes Jonathan's marching/weird walk/finger wiggling/eye squinting characters still make me smile.
And so I thank all of The Impromaniac family for giving me so much, for giving the audience so much, for the many drunken dancing nights, for the games of tag on the sidewalk before a show, for the trips to Dairy Queen, the weekends away, the various costume and themed parties, for rehearsals in the park, drinks at the wicket, weeks and months spent planning rehearsals and shows, For long and ever lasting friendships and for every drop of goofy, void facing, obscure, hilarious, energy spent!
I could go on forever... but I won't!

Aden Home

20 years?!?! Really. Wow... That's a long time to make people laugh.
I just saw one of the pictures posted. The troupe across Fernwood road by the Belfry. It took me a second to realize that I was even in that picture! Then I remembered when it was taken... well mostly... I was pretty drunk most of the time.
Let me give you a favorite memory, out of so many good ones. James Mckillop and Rob Conway on stage at the Belfry, I think, doing a rhyming scene. Something about a girl named Sally. The scene was progressing when James, who argued that he wasn't very good at rhyming, suddenly found this groove and took off rhyming like a master, leaving Rob staring at him, grinning from ear to ear. While James rhymed, Rob slowly, still grinning, lied down on stage and just laid there watching James, suddenly becoming an audience member as well. James pretty much finished his speil and Rob looked up at him and asked "Done? Can I come back?". James paused then said "Yes" and the scene went on from there. I almost killed myself with laughter.

Adrian Taverner

Congratulations, Jonathan and the gang!  Long live the 'Maniacs!  "Don't act.  Be."  Committing to the role has taken me from Victoria to New York, and now I'm writing, editing, mixing, shooting, producing and directing in the film industry both in Vancouver and NYC.  My involvement with the 'Maniacs in VIIF '04, and on the epic road trip to Ryan Stiles' improv theatre, made it ok to pursue life just a little over the top.  You'll never know how far you can go 'til you've been there, and the support and encouragement I found in our intrepid troupe made committing to that course not only easier, but essential.  The farther I go, the more I see that everyone, no matter how huge & successful, is just like us (or wants to be), so don't waste time thinking about trying.  Don't act.  Be.

Aaron Dragushan

Memories of the Impromaniacs? I loved learning with friends that one didn't need to "try too hard" to produce something amazing. We could light up the room with simple guidelines and by supporting each other.
I loved the rehearsals as much as the shows. Mocambo's was great, and then it was great to outgrow it. The energy in a room when we were on fire was amazing... but the overall memory that sticks with me is simply Good People. Thanks for being so great guys.