- Joined VTSL: 1991
- For VTSL, Brian helped create Pants on Fire, Year in Review and The Christmas Queen
- He is also the host of CBC Radio’s The Life Game
- Other theatre appearances:
- Improv Shakespeare Musical for Bard on the Beach, 2014 season
- Toured Europe and North America in Axis Theatre’s award-winning Number 14
- Awards: 2008 Ovation Award, ‘Best Director of a Musical,’ for Gutenberg The Musical
- Favourite VTSL show: Pants on Fire
- Favourite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
- Favourite TV series: Better Call Saul
- Favourite movie: American Movie
- Comic inspirations – S. Gilbert, Robin Williams, Bob Newhart
- “Magic, Math and Cheese = three things that bring me joy.”
How did improv change your life?
“I was working as a computer programmer for MPR Teltech, the research arm of BC Tel which later became Telus. I have been a fan of Theatresports for several years, loving the energy of the shows at the Back Alley Theatre. My job was not connecting with me – long hours, many cancelled projects, very little fulfilment. Finally one weekend I got the courage to take a weekend workshop – Improv level 100 with Gerry McAteer. I loved the amazing combination of freedom and structure. To see that these performers were both incredibly free but had also spent a lot of careful thought on what made a scene work well.
Improv level 200 followed, taught by Lyle Moon (with classmate Doug Funk). Then a brand new course that had not been offered before – Improv level 300, taught by Christine Lippa. From there I got to meet some of the most talented young players of the day: Toby Berner, Pearce Visser, Chris Casillan.
I was thrilled to be invited to join the rookie league and for my first 6 months I was terrible. Scared to come into scenes, making awkward offers so offensive I once took another team member into the penalty bag with me. I loved it. Every weekend I would be at the Back Alley Theatre, hanging Velcro numbers on the big felt scoreboard and watching how the mainstage players did it. Saturday nights after the late show I would skytrain to New Westminster at 1:00am then catch the last bus to Lougheed mall at 1:30, getting home at 2:00am.
Eventually I realized that computer work was not where I needed to be. I quit that job and tried a variety of other careers, I even worked one night tearing down a circus tent. Every week, there was rookie night. If I was not playing, I was watching.
I learned a lot about confidence, about teamwork, support. I learned that the worst thing you imagine as a performer will happen, again and again. You will fail, people will stare at you like you are an idiot, the audience will seem to like everyone else on the stage but you and… it’s not that bad. Improv taught me how to move on through adversity.
I’ve held a lot of jobs since then and have a lot of jobs outside of improv even now but in Theatresports I discovered my community. People wonder why it takes so long to break in some times. It’s not like a regular acting job where you are joining a show for 2 weeks, 4 weeks, even 6 months. At Theatresports, you are joining a family. I’ve met and worked with some of the most amazingly talented people I have ever encountered there and I would happily soar or fry through a scene with any of them.
I did my first professional show in 1991. 25 years later I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
ICI instructor bio:
Brian has been a mainstage player with the Vancouver TheatreSports League for over 24 years. He has created numerous formats including Chrismas Queen, Pants on Fire, Red Ball- Green Ball, and TheatreSports Throwdown and has hosted the annual Year in Review New Years gala for over 15 years.
Brian has been a lead instructor for many generations of development programs at Theatresports including the Resident Improvisor Training Program which graduated many new artists who now perform professionally with the company. Brian’s focus in teaching is on clarity in narrative and structure and honouring the offers that have been introduced into a scene.
Outside of Theatresports Brian has toured internationally in over 1100 performances of the Vancouver hit comedy The Number 14, performing in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, and The New Victory Theatre in New York. He is proud to be a member of the Life Game ensemble at Truth Be Told theatre under the direction of Keith Johnstone, the inventor of Theatresports. Brian has produced multiple shows for the Vancouver Fringe Festival, writing and starring in two Arnie the Carnie shows and directing the Award winning Gutenberg! The Musical! Brian is currently head of live performance at Science World in Vancouver.