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Rapid Fire Theatre wishes 'gut pain'

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 06:00 am

GUT WRENCHING – Rapid Fire Theatre wants to inflict pain on the audience, in a good way. They’re hoping an upcoming improv festival will make audiences laugh so heartily that they’ll suffer for it later. The festival runs until April 12 at the Citadel.
GUT WRENCHING – Rapid Fire Theatre wants to inflict pain on the audience, in a good way. They’re hoping an upcoming improv festival will make audiences laugh so heartily that they’ll suffer for it later. The festival runs until April 12 at the Citadel.
MARC-JULIEN OBJOIS/Supplied photo

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Bonfire Improv

April 9 to 12
Citadel Theatre
9828 – 101 A Ave.
Tickets: $10 weekdays; $12 weekends or $25 pass plus facility fee;
available online at www.eventbrite.ca or at door

Gut pain. That is what Rapid Fire Theatre wishes on the audience that comes to see them. Gut pain from a lot of laughter.

And they’re hoping the third annual Bonfire improv festival running until Saturday, April 12 at the Citadel Theatre will once again do the trick.

As actor Matt Alden explains it, Rapid Fire Theatre has evolved into a go-to arena of improvised theatre so sophisticated that international artists clamour to participate.

“Rapid Fire is huge. It’s the most successful improv theatre in Canada. It’s like an international event. You could say it’s the Olympics of improv like New York, Toronto, Vancouver.”

Bonfire was created to give the theatre community an infusion of new ideas. RFT improvisors were encouraged to go to other cities and bring back new concepts or create fresh projects out of the blue that simply push boundaries.

“It’s such a vast art form. It can be anything,” says RFT artistic director Amy Shostak.

This year’s festival is packed with wacky routines from folk storytelling, a coven of witches and science fiction to hostage-taking, wrestling theatre sports and drunken gods giving advice. And this list just covers the surface.

Tonight for instance, there are two acts. Folk Lordz is a three-part improvised narrative braid. One strand is Aboriginal, the other is Russian and the audience chooses the third strand.

Also on the bill is Faces where the audience is asked to send photos in via social media. RFT improvisors, including Alden, then use the photos to create live characters.

Thursday is a collection of solo sets followed by an epic quest accompanied by music. Friday’s 7:30 p.m. show is a series of shorts mounted with no theatre lights while the later 10 p.m. show brings to life a spoof on the films of Wes Anderson followed by a Theatresports wrestling match.

Saturday’s early show presents more shorts while the late show conjures up 13 crones to pass on words of wisdom as well as the most boxed-in hostage taking you may ever witness.

“Bonfire came out of an idea as a way to give the ensemble a way to develop new ideas and work with each other with improvisors from different levels. We have different ensembles at Rapid Fire and improvisors at Rapid Fire work with improvisors of the same level. This allows the ensembles to mix and bring in new experiments,” explains Shostak.

In the last 14 years, RFT has had an incredible journey. It started off with two shows a month at the Varscona Theatre. It’s increasing popularity now allows it to operate four shows at the Citadel and run workshops 10 months of the year.

“Our audience has changed. When we were on Whyte Avenue, we had the university crowd. Now we still have the young university crowd, but we’re also picking up young professionals and people in their 40s.”

But Bonfire’s laughter is open to all adults.

“We calculated that if you get a pass, it’s $3.50 for a show. It’s really affordable. We’re hoping to get university age students and we want to cater to the artistic crowd that wants to see more experiential theatre. We take risks, but they usually pay off. “


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