February was a very busy and a very successful month for Vanier Secondary School’s theatre department.
From Feb. 1 to 3 Vanier’s junior and senior Improv teams headed to the Canadian Improv Games Vancouver Island tournament in Victoria. The competition was fierce at both levels.
“The level of play on the Island has always been strong but it has risen dramatically over the past few years,” said Vanier senior improv coach Lori Mazey, who has seen teams from across the country play at five national tournaments. “The quality of the work here is right up there with the best teams in the country.”
Vanier’s junior team was coached by Vanier teacher Jason Arsenault in his first year of involvement in the Canadian Improv Games.
Six teams in the Saturday afternoon junior finals, including Vanier, Highland and Isfeld, all played with enthusiasm and inspired a great deal of laughter and awe in the audience.
In the end it was incredibly close: Ladysmith’s junior team earned 530 points and barely edged Vanier’s team, which earned 529. Highland’s team played with tremendous energy and hilarity to finish third.
Vanier’s seniors went into the Sunday night finals 10 points behind the highly entertaining Carihi team but with Ladysmith, Isfeld and Gulf Island Secondary School very close as well.
In the finals, the teams were all very strong. Each team played with fantastic teamwork and storytelling and gave the audience more than their money’s worth of entertainment.
When the scores were tabulated they reflected the overall strength, with only 13 points separating second and fifth place. Vanier’s team pulled ahead and finished first, 34 points above second-place Carihi.
Isfeld finished only three points behind Carihi to finish third, making this the first North Island sweep in the history of the Canadian Improv Games Island tournament.
With this win Vanier’s senior team qualified for the national tournament in Ottawa from March 26 to 30. It will be the fifth trip to the national tournament for Vanier.
Four days later, Vanier’s Theatre department was on the road again — this time to Nanaimo to take part in the North Island Regional Drama Festival.
The festival allows North Island drama students to work with other schools’ departments during the day while taking workshops and participating in a Fringe Festival featuring student performances of all kinds. In the evening, the schools shared 10 one-act plays that were adjudicated by theatre professionals.
Vanier’s production of Check Please, directed by Grade 12 students Meredith Wicklund and Cierrah Gibbs, won multiple awards for directing, acting and theatre production and was chosen by the adjudicator as the region’s top play of the 10 presented. This was a tremendous honour for Vanier, especially considering it was the only student-directed play in the festival.
Lastly, Vanier had a second senior team enter the Nationwide Canadian Improv Games online tournament. This tournament included schools from across the country and Vanier finished fourth of 18 teams.
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To celebrate the recent successes and to raise money for the many costs involved with the trip to Ottawa, Vanier will present an afternoon Improv and Variety Show on March 10 at 2 p.m. The show will feature Vanier improvisers and some of the Check Please cast alongside some amazing guest performers.
Tickets are available from improvisers or at the door while supplies last. All money raised will go to helping get Vanier improvisers to Ottawa for the national tournament.
— Vanier Secondary School