What is ImprovLab?
ImprovLab is research and performance facility that is part of a major renovation of the performing arts wing of the MacKinnon Building at the heart of the University of Guelph campus. This publicly accessible, multi-use venue is ideal for leading-edge research on the social impacts of improvisatory artistic practices; boundary-pushing performances across all artistic disciplines; and impactful community workshops. It is a state-of-the-art research space designed for the presentation, broadcast, archiving, and analysis of improvised performance and audience reception studies; a world in which researchers and artists can explore, create, and collaborate freely, and share new creative works with campus, local, and global communities.
Building on our renowned, interdisciplinary research programs in Critical Studies in Improvisation—and enabled by core funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the University of Guelph—this world-class facility is designed to cultivate collaboration and interdisciplinary research while fostering the next generation of performances and audiences.
More About The Space
ImprovLab is a 140-seat research and performance facility defined by its flexibility. This facility invites a variety of configurations, ranging from a controlled black-box environment to an open, airy space that engages visually with the courtyard outside. With a wide array of moveable sound, lighting, and staging equipment, ImprovLab fulfills all the needs of a conventional, high-quality live performance event while simultaneously inviting infinite possibilities for experimentation. Optimized for acoustical integrity and features state-of-the-art technical infrastructure, this space allows artists and presenters to showcase work with fewer barriers than they would encounter in a conventional theatre space or performance venue.
In addition to the main theatre space, ImprovLab is adjoined by a multipurpose “green” room and abundant storage space.
- a Tarkett Sports sprung dancefloor
- sophisticated, highly adaptable stage lighting (including ETC Element 40-250 Console)
- flexible StageTek Risers
- telematic, livestream-ready audio and video equipment
- a SMART BOARD MX 75” interactive panel for in-person and virtual workshops
- a state-of-the-art sound system suitable for a wide range of sonic activities
- a grand piano and other musical instruments (including synthesizers, backline)
ImprovLab is primarily a research facility, and usage is dedicated to improvisation-related research activities. Approximate percentages of full-time research use and off-hours uses are estimated in the Space Use Graph below.
IICS team members named in the CFI research proposal are:
Ajay Heble (University of Guelph)
Daniel Fischlin (University of Guelph)
James Harley (University of Guelph)
Carla Rice (University of Guelph)
Rebecca Caines (University of Regina)
Eric Lewis (McGill University)
Jesse Stewart (Carleton University)
Ellen Waterman (Carleton University)
Frederique Arroyas (University of Guelph)
Roger Dean (Western Sydney University)
George Lewis (Columbia University)
George Lipsitz (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Marta McCarthy (University of Guelph)
Kevin McNeilly (University of British Columbia)
John Semple (Women’s College Hospital and University of Toronto)
Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas)
ImprovLab is available for public use, especially by local arts organizations in Guelph and surrounding areas. While this space is primarily dedicated to innovative improvisation research, ImprovLab also offers ample opportunity for broad-ranging community use, bringing a wide variety of artists and publics together for a wide variety of performances and events.
The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation is dedicated to keeping this space as accessible as possible—and optimizing its use for public-facing events—through a fair pricing structure; dedicated and helpful staff; and a collaborative, knowledgeable technical personnel.
For general inquiries about ImprovLab, please contact Sheetal at [email protected]
For specific technical questions about the space, please contact Lisa at [email protected]
If you are interested in booking ImprovLab, please fill out this form [LINK FORTHCOMING]
Hear about the anticipated impacts of ImprovLab (and the larger Arts Research Centre facilities at the University of Guelph) from Critical Studies in Improvisation PhD student Emmalia Bortolon-Vettor: