Kingston area performers shine at Canadian Improv Games

The Canadian Improv Games Kingston Regional Tournament took place from February 8 to 10, 2024, at Domino Theatre. Photo via Canadian Improv Games.

Last weekend, dozens of young performers from Kingston and southeastern Ontario took to the stage at Domino Theatre to compete in the Canadian Improv Games (CIG) Kingston Regional Tournament. The event, which featured teams from nine area high schools, took place over three days at the theatre in Portsmouth Village, with the team from Belleville’s Eastside Secondary School emerging as the champions. 

In total, the tournament featured eight senior teams competing for a spot in the National Festival next month. In addition to the squad from Belleville, teams from Prince Edward Collegiate Institute (PECI) in Picton, Perth and District Collegiate Institute, and Kingston schools Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI), Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School (Regi), Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, and LaSalle Secondary School all took part in the regional event.  

On top of the senior team competition, the tournament also gave an opportunity for junior teams from LCVI, PECI, and Frontenac Secondary School to have their moment in the spotlight on Saturday afternoon. In total, nearly 100 students took part in the event over its three days. 

As an organization, the CIG aims to create opportunities for youth to participate in improvisational theatre, which promotes a wide range of skills. For over 40 years, the organization has hosted workshops and conferences ,as well as the annual high school competitions, which culminate in a week-long National Festival held every year in Ottawa. 

From a competitive perspective, the tournaments feature five different events, with students performing spontaneous improvised scenes on the spot. The five events — theme, life, story, style, and character — give participants an opportunity to showcase their wide-ranging improv abilities. 

According to Grace Laing, CIG Kingston Regional Producer, improvisational theatre can help equip students with some important life skills.

“Arts education is the best way for students to learn to express themselves,” she said.

“Communication is vital for every relationship, personal and professional, that they will have in life. Our students learn to be excellent listeners, collaborators, and public speakers.”

Since the CIG’s inception in 1977, many prominent Canadian performers have participated in the competitions, including Sandra Oh, Seth Rogen, Nathan Fielder, Alanis Morissette, Tatiana Maslany, and Andrew Phung. 

Laing added, “Everyone deserves to feel as good as those kids do on that stage.” 

In addition to the students competing on stage, the CIG relies on a dedicated group of volunteer coaches, referees, and other organizers, without whom the event would not be possible. 

As for the results from the Kingston Regional Tournament, after competing in the semifinals on Thursday and Friday, teams from Eastside, LCVI, PECI, Regi, and Holy Cross advanced to Saturday’s final. According to Laing, the team from Eastside “demonstrated exceptional energy, commitment, and teamwork, [which] produced wonderful theatre,” en route to their tournament victory. 

In addition to the regional title, the Heart Award is presented every year to a graduating player who “embodies the spirit of the CIG.” This year, the Kingston region’s Heart Award went to Charlotte Szabo of PECI in Picton.

With their tournament win, the team from Eastside will now advance to the National Festival, scheduled for March 27 to 30, 2024 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Additional information, including how to register for future competitions, is available on the CIG website. Kingston-area high school students interested in getting involved with the CIG are encouraged to email [email protected].

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