Improvaganza 2001 was Rapid Fire Theatre’s first Improvaganza! From May 17-26 the performers practiced and presented a number of improv formats. From May 29 to June 2, the visiting performers faced off with local performers in the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE THEATRESPORTS TOURNAMENT. The festival was created as a re-investment in improv shows at RFT. The company shifted from producing scripted works and reinvested that money in this international event.
The inaugural festival featured performers from Calgary, Atlanta, Seattle, Winnipeg, and London, England.
Instead of paying actors to rehearse the play, we paid improvisers to work for two or three weeks, we’d meet in the basement of the Varscona Theatre to test out new forms, and worked our asses off.
In a 2001 Edmonton Journal article previewing Improvaganza, they list some of the formats. There was “Blank Slate,” developed in South Africa to get around political censorship, where the audience constructs the “narrative agenda” for the players. There were experiments with genres, like Shakespeare and musicals; in “Dream Date”, audiences chose improvisers to go on fake meet-ups for them, onstage. One show was inspired by found objects (presumably provided by the audience), and in another, a Deconstructionist format, all dialogue was replaced with stage directions—an exchange might sound something like “mutters quietly,” “walks to the door,” “reveals a secret!” “Reacts to the secret!”, and so on.