Shamrocks & Shenanigans Improv, the Irish way

Shamrocks and Shenanigans will celebrate Irish culture and traditions in the most hilarious way possible with green beer and lucky leprechauns. | Photo ccourtesy of Vancouver Theatre Sports

Improv as an art form is very positive, joyful and celebratory, and that’s kind of the mindset that we approach each of our special shows with,” says Margret Nyfors, Director of Public Education and Co-Director of Rookie League at Vancouver Theatre Sports (VTS).

Together with former artistic director Denise Jones, Nyfors co-produced Shamrocks & Shenanigans, a show that is inspired by Irish culture and traditions. Shamrocks &Shenanigans will be playing on Saint Patrick’s day (March 17) at VTS.

The show goes on

The actors in the show are really experienced performers, fearless, and can absolutely deliver a great show,“ says Nyfors.

As with all the shows performed at VTS, Shamrocks & Shenanigans will be made up on the spot. The show is the brainchild of Jones, encouraged by a former employee from Dublin who convinced them Irish folklore and traditions aligned well with improv.

“He always said, ‘Irish folklore and traditions are all about storytelling, having fun and being joyful,’” says Nyfors.

This is the third year VTS is putting on Shamrocks &Shenanigans. Nyfors states that they have so much fun doing it every year, they keep doing it. Even during intermission, the show will go on.

“The intermission is for people to mix and mingle, have a nice beverage and to engage in this special event,” says Nyfors.

During the break, Celtic Colleen will go around improvising limericks on the spot for audience members, and Lucky Charm Leprechauns will hand out golden coins to those who can answer their trivia questions. The show will also be competitive and at the end of the night, the audience will get to decide which team won.

“It’s really meant to be a fun celebration of this particular holiday. It’s great for anyone who wants to come out and have some green beer and have some laughs, we’d love to see everybody there,” says Nyfors.

Rolling with the punches

In improv, everyone shares their ideas; Nyfors believes that it’s about listening, accepting offers and stacking your ideas on top of each others’. The biggest thing to overcome in improv, she explains, is that people think they can’t do it for a number of reasons.

“They think they can’t act, have stage fright and are afraid of thinking on their feet,” says Nyfors. “It’s about not beating yourself up for making a mistake. Mistakes are inevitable and we celebrate them.”

According to Nyfors, mistakes are at the root of comedy and when you make a mistake and can roll with it, it can be very powerful.

“Most of life is a performance whether we like it or not. We’re improvising all the time when we go out in public and talk to people because we don’t have scripts for our conversations,” says Nyfors.

The benefits of improv

Nyfors explains how important it is to have diversity in the classes they teach at VTS.

“Ultimately our goal is to have as much diversity within our program and school as possible,” says Nyfors. “Improv is about stories and storytelling; the more diversity we have in terms of age and culture and everything, just leads to better stories.”

People join improv for many reasons. Some want to get help with job interviews, to give better presentations or simply to add to their acting profile.

Nyfors, who has been a main stage performer for over 20 years, also teaches classes. For her, she began doing improv when she was doing her teaching practicum and couldn’t stop crying in front of her students. The principal encouraged her to try something with a performance aspect because those kids were, in his words, ‘going to eat her alive.’

“We teach improv classes to people that maybe want to add a little bit of play, creativity and improv to their lives,” she says.

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