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Improv provides creative outlet

By Catherine Twing
On March 6, 2017

James Heroux and Dalton-Jesse Cummins use a game to rehearse improv for the club Improving Castleton. 

Theater arts student Tess Webber tiptoes around the dance studio. She has just robbed a bank.

Webber’s accomplice, fellow theater arts student Dalton-Jesse Cummins, is at her side, looking around to make sure no one sees them, and then celebrating their loot by cackling evilly at the sky.

“Freeze!”

Studio art student James Heroux taps Webber on the shoulder and suddenly Cummins is no longer a criminal, but instead a figure skater performing a beautiful duet with Heroux. The pair leap and twirl around the space, sometimes in unison and sometimes on their own.

These three are members of “Improving Castleton,” a newly formed improvisational comedy club.  Around a dozen students get together each week to rehearse for what will soon be monthly improvisational performances in Fireside Cafe.

“We talk about what will happen in shows during rehearsal. Strengthening improvisational skills through fun games,” said Cummins, a founding member of the club. “People really enjoy it. It gives students an opportunity to break out of their box.”

The club started late last semester when Cummins talked with Technical Theater professor MacArthur Stine, who used to do improv professionally. They realized improv could be something students would enjoy doing and watching.

“I’ve done improv in the past and I’ve worked with professionals and peers. It gets your brain flowing creatively. You can have fun and relax,” Webber said.

Contrary to what people may think, what’s hard isn’t thinking what you’re going to do next, she said.

“It’s trying not to think, to do something right on the spot,” she said. “You have to be able to say whatever comes to your head.”

They don’t use props right now, but it is something they could explore in the future by using traditional objects for other purposes in the spirit of comedy.

“I have a banana – JK, it’s a laser beam gun shooter!” Cummins exclaimed as an example.

Although some members are theater arts majors, several are from other departments including history, art and communication.

“It was kind of a random decision,” Heroux said of joining the club. “I really like comedy –comedic timing to be specific.”

What makes improvisation different from traditional rehearsed theater is that it is different every time.

“With traditional theater and acting, you rehearse the same thing over and over again, but (with improv) even if you play the same game every day it’s going to be different,” Webber said.

The club’s first show will be March 16 at 5 p.m. in Fireside. The club is always accepting new members and anyone interested in joining the club should contact Cummins at dac12141@castleton.edu.

 

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