Witty, one-liners and the willingness to sacrifice any shred of dignity an actor has are the hallmarks of improv theater. With just seconds to determine what will be said or what character they will play, improv is a way to show an actor’s creativity and spontaneity. It has also become a great fundraiser for Wilcox High School students, who put together an improv night on Jan. 30.
“We’re playing a lot of improv games for the audience and some of them are audience participation,” said Marisa Whitmore, vice president of the Wilcox Thespian Club. “We have games like ‘Bus Stop’ where the actors go out and they act like they’re at a bus stop and they have different characters … There’s also ‘Dinner Party’ which is where one of the actors is a host and they’re hosting a dinner party and they have guests who come in as characters and the host has to guess who they are. The game ends when they get to the last person and say who that person is. Then there are games like ‘Good, Bad, Worst Advice’ where the actors give good, bad and worse advice to the audience. They’re generally the same games we played last time but we have a lot of new, different actors this time so it’ll be interesting to see their perspectives.”
In “Good, Bad, Worst Advice,” the three students, and audience, picked on Nicholas Gamber’s obsession with the Doctor Who television series.
When an audience member threw out a question about approaching a friend who has an “awkward” obsession with the show, Gamber, wearing a navy blue t-shirt advertising the program, became the center of attention, with his co-advice-givers calling him out by name as they gave suggestions on how to deal with the problem, including buying a sonic screwdriver, decorating the asker’s room like the inside of the Tardis, binge watching the show and inviting the friend (Gamber) over to show him how much more of a fan the asker is – and how they are much closer to becoming the Doctor.
In addition, the night’s final game, “Dinner Party,” had students trying to pick out their guests, which included a balloon artist, sportscaster, hippie, body builder, cat lady, Pee Wee Herman, Kim Kardashian and Beyonce.
The evening, hosted by Mel Kent (a standout of the last improv night for her participation in the “Replay at Bernie’s” game), was full of puns and odd renditions of Disney songs, from “Let it Go” to “A Whole New World,” all of which received laughs or groans from the audience.
“Everything we raise tonight and from every fundraiser on because we’re going to be rushing all of our fundraisers is to go to Thespian Festival down south,” said Whitmore. “Usually we do all of the fundraising every year but this year we have to amp it up because usually we have about 10-13 people, but this year we have 28. We have a lot more money to raise because we have a lot more people going. We have another one of these in March [with new games] and then we also have a couple dining for dollars coming up and we have a popcorn fundraiser happening right now [orders can be made through Facebook, a thespian officer or by emailing Wilcox.firstname.lastname@example.org] … We are aiming to raise $250 a person right now.” Donations are also being accepted.