Hello City re-in­tro­duces im­prov to Halifax

The monthly im­prov show Hello City wants to en­ter­tain you where you live.

The Coast - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAN­DON YOUNG

Hello City w/Ste­wart Legere Thurs­day, Jan­uary 11, 7:30pm The Bus Stop Theatre, 2203 Got­tin­gen Street pwyc

Love it or hate it, Halifax isn’t go­ing any­where. So why not re­joice and com­mis­er­ate to­gether through the art of theatre and sto­ry­telling? If that sounds ap­peal­ing, the new monthly im­prov show Hello City aims to high­light the Haligo­nian ex­pe­ri­ence—for bet­ter and for worse—with light-hearted skits and jokes, while also build­ing the city’s im­prov scene.

“The nice thing about im­prov is it’s pos­i­tive, fun and cathar­tic,” says cre­ator Liam Fair, who be­lieves all Haligo­ni­ans have sto­ries to tell that are uniquely Halifax in terms of theme and feel—and some­times even set­ting. “Ev­ery­one has a good Pizza Cor­ner story.”

Fair, along­side his co-pro­ducer Stepheny Hunter, con­cep­tu­al­ized Hello City as a way to re-in­tro­duce im­prov to Halifax as some­thing more en­trenched in the com­mu­nity, ver­sus sim­ply fun and games. “We’ve had im­prov in the city, but I never felt like any­thing re­ally con­nected with the city it­self,” says Fair.

Stay­ing true to its goals, the show fea­tures com­mu­nity mem­bers who share their sto­ries with the au­di­ence, which then in­spire skits through­out the night. Hunter says cre­at­ing a space for peo­ple to laugh and learn is a ma­jor goal for the nine-mem­ber troupe.

“Bring­ing in speak­ers from di­verse back­grounds is im­por­tant to us,” says Hunter. “Our for­mat is great be­cause it brings in a guest who we can ap­pre­ci­ate for each show.”

Help­ing kick off Hello City’s first show of 2018 on Thurs­day, Jan­uary 11 is lo­cal mu­si­cian and theatre artist Ste­wart Legere, who will share his sto­ries of be­ing a cre­ative per­son liv­ing in Halifax. Fair says all themes are fair game, but top­ics like New Year’s res­o­lu­tions and last week’s weather-bomb are likely to re­ceive the im­prov treat­ment this time around. What­ever hap­pens, he guar­an­tees a one-of-akind show.

“In com­par­i­son to stand-up, it’s an act that only hap­pens once be­cause it isn’t planned,” says Fair. “It’s hard to ex­plain an im­prov show af­ter it hap­pens be­cause you re­ally have to be there to get it—that’s what makes it spe­cial.”

Im­prov’s spon­tane­ity and “give and take” with the au­di­ence is part of what makes it such an en­er­giz­ing and en­ter­tain­ing art form. It’s that unique ex­pe­ri­ence that Hunter says is be­com­ing some­thing more peo­ple are seek­ing out. “It’s so easy to stay home and watch Net­flix,” she says. “We think Hello City has the po­ten­tial to be­come a thing au­di­ences look for­ward to ev­ery month, kind of like a ’90s dance night.”

On top of putting on a good show and mak­ing au­di­ences laugh, Fair and Hunter, who will soon take over as re­gional di­rec­tors for the Cana­dian Im­prov Games, hope Hello City—which is named af­ter the Bare­naked Ladies’ Halifax-hat­ing song—will help fos­ter a lo­cal in­ter­est for the craft. With plans to teach classes this year, they be­lieve their show is the first step to­wards a health­ier im­prov scene, and they aim to in­spire while en­ter­tain­ing.

“I hope peo­ple will just laugh and feel good,” says Fair. “In im­prov you find your­self laugh­ing at the dumb­est stuff, but in that mo­ment you’re hav­ing the best time.”

IAN SELIG

Liam Fair and Stepheny Hunter help turn your gripes into com­edy.

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