Shawn Norman

Shawn Norman

Improv duo tackles Winterfest

Young actors-to-be had a chance to participate in a comedy theatre workshop as a part of the recent Winterfest weekend in Sointula.

SOINTULA—Young actors-to-be had a chance to participate in a comedy theatre workshop as a part of the recent Winterfest weekend in Sointula.

Improv FUNdamentals for Youth, run by Vancouver improv artists Shawn Norman and Nicole Passmore, offered to teach beginner improvisation to 12- to 17-year-olds through games. The event was held in the dance studio with free admission.

This is the second youth improv workshop in Sointula this fall, after the Finnish Masala Youth Theatre stopped by in early October.

“Improv is all about saying ‘yes’ to being spontaneous,” said Passmore at the beginning of the Winterfest workshop. “It’s like doing a play, except you have nothing prepared for it.”

Norman and Passmore are both members of Vancouver’s Instant Theatre company, a group that has been producing improvisational theatre in Vancouver for the past twenty years.

Norman has been to Sointula once before, for a theatre workshop last fall. He described his previous trip as a “great experience,” and was excited to come back to the island. For Passmore, it was her first time in Sointula.

They took full advantage of the Winterfest events: watching the bands at the Whale’s Rub Pub Friday night, attending the market on Saturday morning, and checking out the bakery, where they both discovered Pulla, a unique Finnish bread.

The most exciting part about the trip for Passmore? “I really want to see some whales while I’m here,” she said. “If I see a whale, I can die happy.”

The duo began their workshop Saturday afternoon with a small group of youth participants. They coordinated a number of introductory warmups and exercises to break the ice and get the young actors improvising. After the introduction, the group began character work, gameplay, and scene building in the creation of their own improvised stories.

“My goal for you today is to fail gloriously,” said Passmore. “I would rather see you jump in and do something wrong than hold back.”

Norman and Passmore went on to perform their sketch comedy routine “Could You Be More Pacific?” as part of the Sointula Stagehogs show at the F.O. Hall that evening.

The Improv workshop was just one of a few workshops held over the weekend as part of the 38th annual Sointula Winterfestival in November. Other events included arm knitting and a sea treasure terrarium workshop.