During the last lazy days of summer, Providence Improv Fest arrives on the scene and it’s anything but lazy. The event runs September 12 through 14 at AS220, and both stages at the venue will be used for this year’s event, keeping patrons and performers in close proximity — good news for anyone who wants to see more than one show and for any performer who wants to catch other acts.
The word “improv” often is associated with phrases like “made up” or “on the fly;” however, this giant undertaking is anything but. Tim Thibodeau, artistic director of Improv Fest, walked me through the lengthy planning process, which started in January.
“A main objective is to showcase local improv in the state of Rhode Island, with the big point to try to get everyone involved,” Thibodeau explained while describing the way he brings acts to the fest. And nothing gets everyone involved quite like local favorite Bring Your Own Improv, which offers pay-what-you-can, family-friendly improv. The proceeds from the BYOI performance will benefit the Manton Avenue Project, which gives students from Olneyville the opportunity to create original theater with professional artists.
In addition to BYOI, festivalgoers will have the opportunity to see fest sponsors Wage House from Pawtucket and the Providence Improv Guild (recipients of the 2019 Motif Magazine Improv/Audience Participation Award) perform.
Of course the festival does not only feature our fabulous local talents. It is chock full of talented artists from around the country as well, including Anděl Sudik, who was worked with Second City in Chicago; Nnmandi Ngwe, who is part of the improv group 3Peat, which features “Saturday Night Live” cast member Chris Redd; T.J. Mannix, who founded the New York Musical Improv Festival; Frédéric Barbusci, founder of Les Productions de L’Instable; and Rachel Rosenthal, who, with her partner Sam DeRoest, make up the long form improv team RaeRoest.
After watching these acts on stage, people who want to take the stage themselves will be able to take part in one of several affordable workshops offered. Fesival performer Frédéric Barbusci will lead a workshop that should culminate in a large showcase to close out the festival.
The 16th Annual ImprovFest will run September 12-14 at AS220 Black Box (95 Empire Street) and AS220 Main Stage (115 Empire Street). For more information, go to facebook.com/providenceimprovfest or providenceimprovfest.com