Improvisational theatre- a tradition passed all the way down from the Atellan Farce back in 391 BC. Comedy gold was struck through this practice, and it’s a treasure proudly shared with our community here at Heritage High School. Improv shows are bound to cause side splitting laughter with its seemingly ludicrous endeavors.
There’s a special type of magic to improv. One that can’t quite hold a candle to practiced or rehearsed comedy skits. It’s the magic that no one knows what’s about to unfold on the stage, not the audience, nor the performers themselves have any idea of what’s to come and everybody is just living, right there, creating laughs out of thin air.
Our own local improv team at Heritage is made up of eleven members, together resembling the likes of some bizarre family reunited once again. This year, with Marin Fallows (12) spearheading the team-er, family, as the improv general, is Jacob Cabral (11), Ellinor Fallows (10), Lauren Jenson (11), Myah Jones (10), Ashleigh Keneally (12), Alex Medina (10), Isaac Narajo (11), Gia Pecenka (12), Ethan Penner (10), and Ben Phillips (12).
“I picked everyone on the team because they brought something different to the table,” explained Fallows, “Like Ben has very dry humor and Ellie is very energetic and Gia can do weird stuff with her voice and everyone has such a different thing that it makes every single scene special.” Even their t-shirts suggest a family-like bond with nicknames such as “Single Mom” and “Cool Cousin” typed on their fronts. It seems the bond is not just for show.
“We got really close really quickly, a lot of us didn’t know each other, but once we started it was easy,” Medina, a new member of the improv team this year, commented. This connection leaks into the show, that warmth and bonhomie shown through their interactions, creating lively yet inviting entertainment.
That camaraderie is important-even vital- to shows that require performers to let go of just about every societal standard so they can scream at the Algebra teacher in German about sunblock or take on the very essence of the most cringe-worthy VSCO girl imaginable. It takes ridiculous humor to the highest shelf and sits there bathed in its own comedic glory.
So, what? Improv is basically going up, saying something silly and walking off? Nope. In fact, it takes practice; the improv team meets up to run through some of the improvisational games that they perform for the shows. Of course, this isn’t about planning or rehearsing what is going to happen-it’s improv after all. Yet even improv takes practice.
Through these practices they study humor, what’s funny, what’s not, why it was funny, and why it was not. Each scene has a basic structure to it. Relationships with the characters are established, as well as a conflict and a resolution.
“Every single game has a beginning and it progresses until the end,” Fallows described, “Sometimes you’re playing a dating game, you’re on a dating show or sometimes you’re in the woods and you’re running away from a bear. There’s always a conflict and a resolution. That’s what we practice the most.” All this helps to create the show we all see and love.
There’s also a sense of confidence shared through the team. The ability to jump up and try an idea with no knowledge to how it will play out or if it will even get a laugh from the audience. It’s a lot of pressure, for sure, but most members say the risk is outnumbered by the benefits.
“Making people laugh is like the number one goal,” brings out Isaac Narajo, who is also new to the team, “It’s pretty cool to make someone laugh.”
Want to try a bit of improv yourself? You’re in luck! This year during the second semester, the improv team will be hosting a special improv night where those who want to can audition to participate in the show.
Even if you don’t want to audition, don’t miss out on the laughs! Catch the next show November 8 at 7 pm in the Heritage theatre.