Ladysmith Secondary School improv teams advance to Island finals

The senior and junior improv teams from Ladysmith Secondary School recently won the South Island Cup.

The Ladysmith Secondary School Junior Improv Team

Ladysmith Secondary School (LSS)’s junior and senior improv teams won their respective divisions at the Canadian Improv Games‘ South Island Cup.

Junior team members competed against improv teams from eight other schools at Esquimalt Secondary School (ESS) Wednesday, Jan. 9 and Thursday Jan. 10, walking away with a win in the South Island Junior Cup.

LSS’s junior improv team will go on to compete at the Island Junior Finals Saturday, Feb. 2 at Victoria High School.

Bill Taylor, LSS’s drama teacher and one of two coaches for LSS’s improv club, said the top three junior teams from both Island zones will face off against each other next month, adding that the “winner will have bragging rights for Vancouver Island.”

“The seniors do the same thing,” Taylor added, “Only the winner has bragging rights to Vancouver Island and gets to represent our region in Ottawa at the national championships.”

LSS’s senior improv team inched one step closer to its goal of reaching the national championships Friday, Jan. 11 with a win at the South Island Senior Cup. The win guarantees senior team members a spot at the regional semifinals scheduled for Feb. 1 and 2 at Victoria High School.

Members of the senior improv team were visibly nervous as they gathered round in a classroom prior to their departure from LSS last Friday.

Team member Rachelle Younie offered insight into the source of the team’s pre-game jitters.

“There’s no possible way we can know what we’re going to be doing tonight,” Younie said. “It’s completely opposite of, say, doing a play where you’ve rehearsed the same thing over and over again so that when you perform it, ideally it’s there and it’s perfect. In this situation, we can only practise the skills that we need, then rely on those skills to hopefully make a good scene.”

During competitions, teams receive suggestions from the audience via the event’s emcee and are then given four minutes to transform the suggestion in question into a scene. A trio of judges evaluates their performance based on each team’s “ability to make offers, to accept offers, to advance offers, to listen to each other and to stage the scene,” Taylor added.

Improv games are anything but cutthroat, Taylor said, adding that each team takes an oath to join the games in a spirit of “loving competition.”

“The more open you are, the better you’ll do,” Taylor said. “You still want to win, but by loving everyone else and being generous, you perform better as a team. You’re more playful and open.”

Both LSS improv teams will attend the regional championships next month in Victoria, along with coaches Bill Taylor and Rebeccah Fairweather.