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Plays Well With Others: Interview with an Improv Artist

Vancouver-based improv artist Sarah Dawn Pledge is living her dream 

By CHLOË LAI

Sarah Dawn Pledge unleashes the funny at The Fictionals' Improv Against Humanity show

Sarah Dawn Pledge unleashes the funny at The Fictionals’ Improv Against Humanity show (Photo: Stephen Gray/Zemekiss Photography)

“Everybody was laughing at me, and I liked it,” says Sarah Dawn Pledge. The improv actor explains how she found her calling at age five, at a family friend’s party. Someone asked a question, and Pledge’s witty reply had the whole room of adults in stitches. “I remember having this tingly feeling, even as a kid,” she says.

Pledge learned to rely on her imagination for entertainment, spending her childhood on a quiet, sprawling acreage in nearby Maple Ridge. Then she began entertaining others. Her first job? Playing a fairy at children’s birthday parties. At 19, she moved to the big city.

“Vancouver is one of the most supportive improv cultures I’ve ever come into,” Pledge says. She rattles off a list of mentors and friends, like fellow Maple Ridge native and actor Molly Parker, who got Pledge an audition at Lyric School of Acting. The school didn’t take many actors that young, and when Pledge passed muster, the instructor “demanded to see my license because she didn’t believe I was 19.”

More than a decade later, she’s on a mission to share the excitement of improv. A member of the ensemble at Vancouver TheatreSports League—as well as one of their most highly rated instructors—she also performs in The FictionalsImprov Against Humanity show (Rio Theatre) and is the Education Director for QueerProv (XY nightclub). She even co-produces several shows, including Stage Time and Improv Jam, which invites “anybody, of any level” to play with a pro, and Dirty Little Secrets (XY nightclub), where anonymous confessions from the audience and performers drive the scenes.

“I almost never just go to see movies anymore, because there’s so much live entertainment in this city,” Pledge says. In her downtime, she catches comedy shows at Seven Dining Lounge, live music at Falconetti’s, and burlesque at the Biltmore Cabaret. Shopping days are spent at the independent boutiques along Main Street or in Gastown, especially Nettle’s Tale. “It’s an incredible local bathing suit company for women of every size.”

What’s even more incredible to the queen of make-believe is that she gets to play for a living. “I pinch myself every morning,” she says. “I wake up and I’m like, ‘I fooled them again! They’re going to let me do it again!’ ” Yes, we will—again and again and again—because we, too, like that tingly feeling.

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