This last year has been so isolating. We don’t need to tell you… you know. So this year, we loosely themed our Artist Summit around connection — across distances of space and identity. The event ended up being a perfect mix of inspiring, heart-warming, and practically informative. All the sessions were recorded to our Youtube channel, and we hope you’ll get a chance to give them a watch.
We kicked things off with the premiere of Jill Bernard’s new video series, Improv Histories. She sought out improvisers from across the world to talk about the origins of improv in their countries and how that informs their improv today. The interviews are fascinating and hilarious, including a story from Raffi, who took out a very unusual bank loan… a couple unusual bank loans, in fact.
If you want to get out of your bubble and start seeing improv globally, this is a fantastic place to start.
Improv Across Borders
Next up, Sean Dillon had the pleasure of interviewing Karla Dingle of Queen City Comedy and its Global Improv Project. Pre-2020, Queen City Comedy already had experience bridging communities, bringing together sketch, stand-up, and improv under one umbrella in Charlotte, NC. And then the pandemic hit, and this small but mighty organization made its mark by creating something remarkable — the Global Improv Project. The GIP brought together — and continues to bring together — improvisers from 6 of 7 continents (sorry Antarctica), first to learn and train together, then to perform together. It is an inspiring story that reminds us that the shift to online improv wasn’t just a necessity, it also carried some great big gifts that we shouldn’t abandon when physical theaters can open again.
Day two of the Summit kicked off with our largest session, an international panel discussion of online improv itself, moderated by Rita Boersma, with Marisol Correa of Fin De Impro (Bogotá, Colombia), Coko Galore and Connor Low of Bad Dog Improv (Toronto, Canada), and Emma Wong of The Sunday Service (Vancouver, Canada), with Jill Bernard pitching in on translation assistance. You are strongly urged to check out their work at the links above, because they are doing some amazing things. And then get all those valuable brass tacks, right here:
Improv for Social Betterment
Rounding out the weekend, we had an amazing session with our own John Gebretatose and Asaf Ronen, author of seminal improv text Directing Improv and Programming Director at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival. Together and apart, these guys have been putting in the work on how to apply improv to help make the world a better place. In this session, they went hands-on, talking through real-life and hypothetical scenarios with their audience to demonstrate what the practical work of “making the world better through improv” might look like. As John put it, it was like NPR’s Car Talk, but the car in need of fixing is the world we live in. Must-watch content, friends.
And that’s that. We all came away from this year’s Summit warmed and inspired, with a new perspective on the opportunities in front of us. Hope you will too.