The Upfront was opened in 2004 along Bay St. in our beloved Bellingham. Created by the very renowned improv actor Ryan Stiles, they offer venues that provide live and energetic improv comedy for all types of people and ages, making them a unique experience that deserves recognition. In fact, their recognition extends past our community, whereas they have received the Mayor’s Arts award and a myriad of other awards determined by vote, such as ‘Best Date Night’ in the Northwest!
We had the pleasure of exchanging conversation with The Upfront’s Artistic and Education Director, Kris Erickson. Having already known that the Upfront had established deep ties in the community, we wanted to see how connected they were to Western and its students/alumni.
Kris explained their appreciation for Western’s students and alumni, considering we constituted roughly half of their audience! To show their appreciation, every September the Upfront hosts a Welcome Back Students show that costs next to nothing for those who attend! It gives an opportunity for current students to watch Western alumnus work their magic; our alumnus make up a significant number of mainstage and office staff at their theatre. Kris himself happens to be an alumni from Western, as well as their Operations Manager Matt Lesinski.
We see that our Alumni have done a lot for them, but what have they done for us you ask? Well there is plenty! Kris himself recently taught a workshop on improv and its application to humor in an English class… their goal was to find what makes things funny, and improv was the answer! The Upfront sets up a booth every year at the Western Info Fair as an opportunity to dish out information and draw in more students to their theatre. As a bonus, they stay as connected to our own Western Improv group and pitch in for our annual festival each year. They do not do many performance based events on campus in order to not step on any toes.
It goes without saying, that checking out this amazing facility will end up doing you plenty of justice. Were symbiotic, we need them and they need us, like Crocodiles and Egyptian plover birds… so if we are going to be so close we might as well enjoy each other to the fullest!