Montreal Improv emerges from pandemic, hungry for the energy of a live crowd

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Montreal Improv is back in a new home, thanks to a small team dedicated to keeping it alive.

The performance group had to close in July 2020 during the pandemic. With shows and classes canceled, Improv Montreal could not afford to keep its space in the central Plateau district, at the corner of avenue des Pins and boulevard St-Laurent.

Until then, Montreal Improv was one of the most active improvisation theater companies in the province, especially among English-speaking Quebecers.

In October 2020, Niro Jeyachandran purchased the rights to the name and social media of Montreal Improv, hoping to prevent her from being another victim of the pandemic.

“I was in a position in life where I could do something,” Jeyachandran says. By day, the Montrealer runs his own transport logistics company, but his passion is improvisation.

“It had a huge impact on me,” he says, as it gives him a way to be creative.

Since Jeyachandran took the reins and became the director of operations, they have been running online courses as “something to fill the void” until the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. Starting this month, they are hosting in-person classes in their new location and their first show in the new location will be on October 8.

Live performances have taken place at various venues around the city over the past few months, and the band can’t wait to have it all under one roof.

An outdoor improvisation class that took place during the summer. Masks are also mandatory for classroom lessons. (Submitted by Improv Montreal)

“We needed a place that we could call our own and that we could control when classes were held,” says artistic director Vance Gillis.

Just a few weeks ago, Montreal Improv signed a new lease for a space at 3706 Notre-Dame Street West in Saint-Henri. The southwestern region of Montreal is known for its trendy restaurants, art galleries, and a handful of performance spaces, primarily for music.

Jeyachandran sees it as an opportunity for Montreal Improv to offer something unique.

“I have the impression that St-Henri wants it,” says Jeyachandran. He has started bringing Montreal Improv to the neighborhood and plans to partner with local businesses so they can help each other be successful.

Its goal is to make improvisation more accessible and for Montreal Improv to offer lessons and performances in English and French.

The official opening is Friday. All performers and show attendees must be double vaccinated and there are strict rules regarding the use of masks during classes and shows. Weekly broadcasts will begin in October.

Classes are already in session, with different levels available, depending on the experience of the participant.

“Finally having a room that we can call our own, that we can use to organize our own classes and our own shows, is very, very exciting,” says Gillis.


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