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Yes, the Improv Games are on this week, and these kids are here for it

Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa. (Submitted by Elizabeth Glenn - image credit)
Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa. (Submitted by Elizabeth Glenn - image credit)
Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa.
Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa.

The Canadian Improv Games regional competition is happening at the LSPU Hall this week, and the winners will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the national championship in Ottawa. (Submitted by Elizabeth Glenn)

For some, getting up on stage at all is a no-go — let alone without a plan or a script — but for these high schoolers, it's nothing but a chance to perform at the national Improv Games in Ottawa.

The provincial Improv Games are happening in St. John's this week, and Elizabeth Glenn, the regional producer, says they're a chance for students to show their stuff on the stage.

"Every high school and junior high student needs a place where they can try things out and be fearless," she told CBC News this week.

Glenn, who was a competitive improv gamer in high school herself, says the competition is friendly, not cutthroat, and for many students, this will be their first regional competition.

The competition is composed of nine teams of two to eight students, from the St. John's metro area to as far away as Roddickton, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The preliminary competition started Wednesday with all teams performing different scenes in the prelims over two days. The top four teams compete Friday, and the winning team goes to Ottawa for the nationals in April.

How the judging works 

In order to decide which team wins or advances, there are a few things the judges look for:

  • How the team uses the suggestion that they've been given.

  • How often they add new ideas and accept the ideas of their teammates.

  • Whether there are stakes to the scene — whether the audience cares about the story and its characters.

  • How the team commits to and stays present in the scene.

  • How the staging looks.

The judges have a maximum of 59 points to award to each scene.

Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa.
Canada Improv games are happening at the LSPU Hall. Winner to represent at nationals in Ottawa.

A key principle of improv groups is the concept of 'yes, and…' — when someone says something in the scene, their partner accepts it and then builds on it. (Submitted by Elizabeth Glenn)

To help prepare the teams, the Canadian Improv Games organization provides the schools with teams that help the students practise.

Glenn has experienced first-hand the effect of improv.

"You see people from the program who are meek in high school, spend years going on stage, making things up in the moment, and build confidence in their abilities and skills for working with other people," she said.

"Once you're on stage, you can't really plan out what you will say or do. So you learn to go with it."

A key principle of improv groups is "yes, and…" — which means that when someone says something in the scene, their partner accepts it and then builds on it.

For those who want to feel the spontaneity and thrill of the first rule of improv, "Yes, and…", the competition takes place from Wednesday to Friday at the LSPU Hall at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.