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Ladysmith students win Island improv title

Victory qualifies team for national championships in Ottawa
Ladysmith Secondary School improv team members celebrate winning the Island improv competition in Courtenay this past weekend. The team consists of Poppy Harper, Eli Bowden, Hamilton Harper, T.J. Nyhan, Lucy Street and Zachary Howard Traywick. (William Taylor photo)


Some fast acting spurred Ladysmith Secondary School’s improv team to win the Island championship.

The group of students bested 12 other teams over two days of improvisation at a competition Feb. 23-25 at G.P. Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay.

“Oh my gosh, we did it,” said Poppy Harper, one of LSS team members. “It’s really lovely because we are all friends, too, so to win it that way is very special.”

William Taylor, the coach for the students, said the Island competition is “pretty heavy” and the field of competitors included some with experience at nationals. Only five of the 13 teams made the final round and LSS qualified in that fifth and final spot.

“So that just put us into the finals, but Ladysmith showed the strength and passion to move all the way up the ladder,” Taylor said.

The improv performances go for four minutes with audience members pitching story elements.

“The quality of good improvers is a good storyteller and the ability to make the other players good at storytelling as well,” Taylor said. “Once a subject is chosen, a team is given 15 seconds to formulate their story in their heads and then the group is on their own to weave their magic.”

Eli Bowden was a fan of Ladysmith’s improv extravaganza when he was an elementary school student and he said every year with LSS improv has been special.

“I love theatre and improv is the rawest form of the art and it’s all natural,” added team mascot Kaylin Zech. “There are no stars because each player has to support the others to keep the story going.”

The win at Islands means that Ladysmith Secondary’s improv team has a chance to be one of more than 300 teams at the Canadian finals at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in April.

Hamilton Harper said he’s excited about travelling to nationals and said “there is a lot we can learn by being there.”

The team will need to fundraise about $15,000 to make the trip possible. Anyone able to help is asked to contact Ladysmith Secondary School at 250-245-3043.

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