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UW-Eau Claire graduate to lead upcoming Eau Claire Improv Fest

November 28, 2012

ECImprovFestEAU CLAIRE — The Eau Claire Improv Fest, organized by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumna Amber Dernbach, will feature a variety of performances and workshops from Nov. 30-Dec. 1 throughout Eau Claire.

The purpose of the event is to celebrate the Eau Claire improvisation scene as well as former residents currently working in improv. All groups performing in the festival are either current Eau Claire improv groups or include former Eau Claire residents.

"I want to celebrate the rich improv scene we have in Eau Claire and increase awareness of local talent," Dernbach said.

Dernbach, a 1994 theatre arts graduate who teaches English language learners and theater at Eau Claire Memorial High School, said she first came up with the idea for the festival in 2010 when she attended an improv festival in Chicago. She took the Memorial High School improv team, which she coaches, to the national improv festival and started envisioning what she wanted the Eau Claire festival to look like.

UW-Eau Claire alumni who will participate in the festival include 2011 graduate Benjamin Domask, 2010 graduate Josh Ingersoll, 2007 graduate Shane Leonard, 2000 graduate Ben Richgruber and 2010 graduate Brittany (Walters) Traynor.

Dernbach credits UW-Eau Claire with providing a foundation for performance training, which she said is the reason so many alumni participate in improv. She said performance spaces such as The Cabin and organizations like the University Activities Commission at UW-Eau Claire contribute greatly to student access to activities like improv.

"The (areas of) theater, music and dance (at UW-Eau Claire) give students opportunities to hone their process and perform on stage," Dernbach said. "This is not a reality at all universities."

Dernbach said improv in Eau Claire is valuable to the community as well as the performers.

"Improv is important because it's an accessible art form that can be shared in virtually any physical space," Dernbach said. "Attending an improv performance translates to a shared experience for audience members. Witnessing something created for the very first time, that you know will never be replicated, is thrilling."

Events during the festival include introductory improv classes for children, teens and adults as well as one for girls only.

A complete schedule can be found on the event's Facebook page. For more information, contact Amber Dernbach at amber.dernbach@gmail.com.

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