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Ottawa Improv Festival brings diverse talent from Toronto and Chicago

Organizer Val Perelshtein promises the festival is about more than laughs.

Promotional photo of members of ‘The Keweedom, ’ a women of colour improv collective hailing from Toronto.

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Promotional photo of members of ‘The Keweedom, ’ a women of colour improv collective hailing from Toronto.

Say ‘Yes and’ to tickets for Ottawa’s Improv Festival next week and embrace the unexpected from Ottawa’s theatre community.

“If people come to the festival they can definitely expect to see something that will never be repeated again,” said organizer Val Perelshtein. “It’s a completely unique night, everything of course spontaneous and made up on the spot.”

“To me anyway, the kind of improv we want to bring in is not so much jokes or puns but it really is about relationships on stage that are created there in the moment. That’s what makes for a very compelling performance.”

The theatre festival will span four days that include performances and workshops. International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8, with an all women line-up for Shelarious. The second day features an all-local lineup from around the city.

Friday and Saturday will feature three headlining acts; the Kweendom from Toronto, Sand from Chicago and the Bloody Marys from Toronto.

Perelshtein promises “super truth bombs” and “perspective shattering” performances from the festival’s headliners, a diverse trio of improv groups.

On Saturday audience members can become performers with a free workshop at the Improv Embassy, an improv school that opened earlier this year. Other workshops are offered throughout the week.

A portion of ticket proceeds will go into a scholarship fund to pay for lessons for people from groups underrepresented in improv.

“Our community is always growing, so it’s a fun place to find friends and connect with people,” said Perelshtein. “We want it as diverse as possible, so as many people as possible can feel like ‘I can do this.’”

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