Making improvments with Paper Street Theatre Co.

Photo by Derek Ford
Photo by Derek Ford

Victoria’s first dedicated home for improv theatre has opened at 1109 Fort Street.

And owner Dave Morris, 33, couldn’t be happier.

“I’m so excited,” says Morris, as he sits down in the spacious Paper Street Studio, home to Paper Street Theatre Co. and Morris’ own improv classes. “I have my own space and I love it.”

Morris opened the studio March 1st, after taking possession one month earlier.

“It was in rough shape,” he says of the former retail outlet. “I was cutting tile! I grouted!” he says. “It was kinda fun.”

After filling holes in the walls and painting, hanging studio curtains, refinishing the bathroom and tiling the back storage room, the space has morphed from another abandoned downtown storefront into a vibrant community gathering space. At least three nights per week, Morris’ students fill the space with what looks and sounds like theatre — only at Paper Street Studio, they don’t follow a script.

Morris currently offers three levels of improv classes as well as a range of workshops and guest intensives at the studio. His masters students, who have already completed Morris’ three levels of classes, pay a monthly fee to use the space on a weekly basis. “It’s been neat because every week they come to class the space gets better and better,” says Morris.

The group also performs at the Intrepid Studio Theatre each month. Two of his masters students are now part of the Paper Street Theatre Co.ensemble. “They went through the training program and joined Paper Street. They’re excellent now,” says Morris.

Paper Street Theatre Co. closes out its fourth season in April with A Fistful of Improv: An Improvised Western.

Director Morris says that by reading, watching, and studying classic westerns, the ensemble is able
to create a show that feels like theatre. Every show is different. No two stories are the same.

“Usually the first show of the run is our first time going straight through,” says Morris. Although the Paper Street Theatre Co. ensemble does rehearse, the stories themselves are completely improvised.

Different people play different characters each time and improvise through different problems. Even the lighting design (Emma Dickerson) and sound design (Dan Godlovich) are improvised.

There will be a workshop offered on the improv style on Saturday April 11 from 11am-1pm. The workshop costs $25 (or $20 if you came to the show). For more information on the workshop, visit paperstreettheatre.ca

Watch for Paper Street’s fifth season to begin in the fall. In the meantime, get out and enjoy some improv.

You never know what might happen.

Paper Street’s description of An Improvised Western:

“Stick ‘em up! Escape to a time when the tumbleweeds and dusty cowboys rolled through town as Paper Street Theatre brings back the Old West with a little improvised spit polish.

Get ready to meet all the colourful characters in the local saloon, maybe even see a shoot-out at high noon, and if you’re real lucky you may even see a cowboy ride off into the sunset.”


A Fistful of Improv: An Improvised Western

April 8-11 at 8pm

Intrepid Studio Theatre (1609 Blanshard)

$15, Tickets at ticketrocket.org or 250-590-6291

Family matinee April 11 at 2:30pm, $20/family of five. (Tickets at the door only for this performance).

 

 

 

Words by Mary Ellen Green, Photo by Derek Ford

 

originally published in analogue magazine’s April/May 2015 issue