Improvising Community Connections

Two performing artists are using their love of improv theatre to help build resilience in an inner-city community. Collaborative dance artist Johanna Bundon and theatre artist Jayden Pfeifer are working with Regina's Heritage Community Association (HCA) to offer improv workshops to engage the local community.

HCA executive director Kathleen Wilson says the art form fits the community's needs well. "We don't have a community centre, but we can go into anyone's space and do a workshop. It's just so adaptable."

Improvising Community Connections

Many Heritage residents struggle with the impacts of poverty, but the neighbourhood is also brimming with potential for revitalization. The Heritage Improv Project (HIP) identified a number of community partners in the area to engage in workshops, including an emergency youth shelter, a shelter for women and children, a health care organization providing rehabilitation services, and a multicultural elementary school.

"Improvisation has a way of harnessing a very playful quality in us. Some byproducts that we have observed through the workshops are communication and confidence, cohesion in a group, or just a feeling of well-being," Bundon says. "We hope that this sort of openness and support extends past the workshops."

HIP also offers drop-in nights, which attract a broad cross-section of ages and cultures. Workshops focus on non-performative improvisation, which is based on the principles of availability, listening, accepting, supporting and expressing and uses basic sound and movements rather than language.

Improvising Community Connections

"We had a drop-in night where there were three languages in the room. The workshop was so dynamic because we realized there was a common language that had nothing to do with English. It was really beautiful to see the group connecting so fully but in a non-verbal way," Bundon says.

Heritage Improv Project received Creative Partnerships funding in 2013 and 2014. Creative Partnerships is a joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc., using funding from the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation.

Front page: Jayden Pfeifer. Photo: Eagleclaw Thom.

Top: Jayden Pfeifer and Johanna Bundon. Photo: Danielle Tocker.

Middle: Johanna Bundon. Photo: Eagleclaw Thom.

Bottom: Participants in a drop-in improv night. Photo: Nichole Huck