For the people, by the people
author: shelbi glover | a&c writer
A look into Regina’s newest, and most progressive improv troupe
In a world where Seth Rogen continues to make the same hyper-masculine, frat-boy-targeted films, it feels like anyone who isn’t a loud, obnoxious stoner can’t get a laugh anymore. While the arts scene – particularly comedy – is dominated by straight, white men, it’s rare to come across any medium that is led by women. Queer women are even harder to come across; Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, for example, is the show’s first openly lesbian cast member, which speaks volumes in itself for a lack of representation within the industry.
Lilly Thorsen has taken it upon herself to bring something new to the scene in Regina. Alongside Jessica Tresek, Lilly founded PRISM, an improv company for and by the LGBT+ community. Lilly and I chatted about what it means to be a queer improviser and what PRISM personally means to her.
1. How did you get started improvising?
LT: It was something I’ve always wanted to try, but had a lot of social anxiety about it and fear of being judged. Finally, I ended up joining Hitchhikers because my friends were doing it.
2. What motivated you to create this improv company?
LT: When the idea of PRISM first started, it wasn’t an improv company. We just wanted to get together a group to improvise because, as students, we aren’t very secure financially and we couldn’t afford paying to be a part of an improv troupe. The idea sort of blossomed from there, and as members of the LGBT+ community, we decided to make PRISM a place specifically for LGBT+ people.
3. How is it different to run a company vs. just being part of one?
LT: There is a lot more responsibility. You can’t just show up for practice and shows, you have to look at social media, venues, event planning, financing, advertising, and so many other things.
4. What is your favourite improv format?
LT: I don’t know if I have a favourite format, but I love doing long forms. I like having the time to develop and grow your character and having a larger, overarching story.
5. Does PRISM donate to charities?
LT: Yes! All of PRISM’s income goes towards Saskatchewan LGBT+ charities. We just had a show on Thursday and we raised $200 for Camp fYrefly, which is a camp specifically for sexual and gender minorities.
6. What does improvising mean to you personally?
LT: Improvising is a time when I forget about everything else bugging me. I don’t have room in my mind to think about it when I’m trying to come up with ideas on the spot. I’ve always had a big imagination and loved make-believe, so I feel like improv is basically the “adult” version of that.
You can catch PRISM’S next show at the Creative City Centre on December 7.