The senior and junior improv teams monkey around with coach Bill Taylor. The teams are off to Ottawa in April after big wins at the Vancouver Island Tournament in Victoria from Feb. 4 to 6. Pictured are: Jacob Mortimer

The senior and junior improv teams monkey around with coach Bill Taylor. The teams are off to Ottawa in April after big wins at the Vancouver Island Tournament in Victoria from Feb. 4 to 6. Pictured are: Jacob Mortimer

Improv team to represent Island

They’re bundles of energy, with smiles from ear to ear, they’re the Ladysmith Secondary School Improv Team and they just won, big.

The senior team placed first at the Vancouver Island Tournament of the Canadian Improv Games in Victoria Feb. 4 to 6, and are now off to Ottawa in April for the nationals.

“It’s really cool,” Rachelle Younis said. “It’s kind of an honour, too. It’s Canada’s national stage and we’re going all the way to Ottawa to represent our little Island.”

The team has been practicing and rehearsing together since September.

Coach William Taylor said he’s really impressed with how far the team has come.

“We rehearsed the skills we need to make good scenes,” he said. “It’s really about learning to listen better and giving yourself the freedom to play together.”

Five Island teams competed for a spot in the national games.

The final score for Ladysmith was 782, beating Esquimalt by 39 points.

“We basically spent three days before the finals becoming an über team,” Jacob Mortimer said.

The junior team, coached by Rebecca Fairweather, finished in second place at the Island junior finals, sending them off to Ottawa as well. Taylor credits the team’s work ethic and compatibility for the wins.

Ian Calder said the team is really connected.

“Because of that you don’t feel nervous, you know they’ll back you up no matter what.”

The team gains its strength through their bond.

“We’re all really good friends and we play off each other and our strengths,” Hilary Jahelka said.

The shows, and especially competing, can be stressful though.

“It’s sometimes really nerve-wracking,” Daniel Kelly said.

So why do these energetic youngsters get up on stage to let it all hang out?

“It’s a place you can be a part of something,” Mortimer said. “You can be fearless and free to do what you want to do without pressure.”

Though improv is fun and games, there is proper structure that must be followed.

The team normally needs eight people and they must adhere to some rules.

“It’s judged by criteria, listening, making offers, accepting, advancing, staging and raising the stakes,” Younis said.

The team has been learning the skills that have made them top for a long time now.

“We learned how to make a scene and the basic foundations and elements of improvising to make a good story,” Younis said.

Taylor said the better a dramatist, the better at improvising a person will be.

“Unlike real life when telling a story you’re looking back, in improv you have to have faith it will be awesome,” he said. “Someone once said it’s like ‘driving with your headlights on backwards’.”

The National Tournament and Festival is April 19 to 23 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

The team is now trying to raise money, they need approximately $9,000, to get there. A benefit evening will be held to fundraise on March 4 at 7 p.m. at LSS.

For more information contact William Taylor at wtaylor@sb68.bc.ca.