Rapid Fire Theatre

Non-profit professional improv theatre company producing weekly shows, three annual festivals, public and and corporate entertainment and workshops, youth outreach programming, international festival participation and hosting.

Rapid Fire Theatre

… a history

In 1981, Keith Johnstone's unique form of improvisation, TheatreSports®, was brought to Edmonton by Theatre Network and its Artistic Director, Stephen Heatley. In 1988, with his help, the company formed a new theatre company, Rapid Fire Theatre, to independently present TheatreSports® to Edmonton audiences. The show was performed first at the Phoenix Theatre in downtown Edmonton, and then in the spring of 1990 moved to the Chinook Theatre, which became the Varscona Theatre in 1994.

In 2000, RFT's programming expanded beyond TheatreSports with the creation of the Saturday night long-form show, Chimprov, and in 2001 our international Improvaganza festival, taking place every June. The Nosebowl was introduced in 1995 as a high school improv festival; it was combined with the Canadian Improv Games into the Wildfire Festival in 2007.

Artistic Directors have included Jack Smith up to 1991; Patti Stiles up to 1995; Jacob Banigan to 2004; Chris Craddock to 2008; Kevin Gillese to the end of 2009, Amy Shostak to 2015 and currently Matt Schuurman. Each has influenced the direction of the company, from introducing mainstage plays to adding an international focus to increasing youth development to making use of social media—always with improv as the base art form.

Rapid Fire Theatre has always been a teaching company; the company offers regular training for its actors plus a public workshop program, specialty workshops and on-location classes for schools and the corporate world. RFT's event entertainment operations have grown in popularity over the years, and regularly provides entertainment to schools, fundraising groups, companies and conventions. In 2009 RFT developed curriculum specific to at-risk youth, and has been expanding on delivery of that curriculum ever since.

On the international scene, RFT is renowned for its top-level improvisors and teachers, having visited and won titles across Canada, the U.S. and overseas.

Rapid Fire Theatre has produced some of the city's most favored comedic talent, including playwrights, directors and performers: members of Die-Nasty, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, Atomic Improv and Gordon's Big Bald Head all have roots within RFT, alongside distinguished alumni like Ron Pederson, Josh Dean and Nathan Fillion.

In 1993 RFT banded together with Teatro La Quindicina and Shadow Theatre to save the Varscona Theatre from being lost as a theatre venue. And in September 2011, RFT consolidated its programming at the Citadel Theatre downtown, increasing programming to seven days a week with up to six public shows each weekend, and public workshops at the Foote Theatre School.







We imagine a day when the improvisational art form is enjoyed and respected throughout Edmonton and beyond.




We value:

  • The Improv Way of life: a positive, “yes, let’s…” attitude, cooperation, trust, acceptance and teamwork (internally and externally)
  • High quality comedic improv and alternative theatre that entertains a growing, diverse audience
  • Improv as a development tool: for our performers, our audience and the community as a way to nurture creative outlets (eg. Sketches, plays, videos, team building, public speaking, etc.)
  • Spontaneity of improv that allows for immediate relevance (politically, socially, culturally)




To provide accessible, affordable improvisation and alternative theatre that entertains and educates a diverse, growing audience and provides professional development opportunities to participants.





Rapid Fire Theatre honours the place that we call home; Treaty Six territory and the original home of Indigenous nations, including the Cree, Nakota-Sioux, Blackfoot, Dene, and Métis. We celebrate this place, where people have been telling stories and making each other laugh for thousands of years. We honour the spirit of respect, collaboration and sharing that created this treaty and in doing so, we celebrate the spirit of Tatawaw; that there is room here for all.  We strive to uphold these values in all that we do, for we are all Treaty people, making it up as we go, together.



Available Internships

No available internships