Improv goes back to school

In a rehearsal for Kinderprov, sophomore Michael Ferrara, left, and senior Joe Sabatino duke it out during the improv game “Sports Announcers.”  The show will take place this weekend in the Spitz.By Jess Decina

In the first-floor hallway of Fine Arts on the right side, there’s a display case. Students who walk past it this week might think they’re looking at a chalkboard in a kindergarten classroom.

Instead of the usual array of posters and flyers, there’s a neatly written question that asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answers, most of them written sloppily and in bright marker, say things like, “I want to be Spider-Man” or “I want to be like a snowman.”

The humorous display is all to promote Kinderprov, Alpha Psi Omega’s latest venture in improvisational comedy. According to junior Steve Trainor, the show’s title and theme work their way into the start of the production.

“We didn’t just want to say, ‘Oh, come to the improv show,’” he said. “We wanted a theme. It’s going to be our introduction.”

Joanne Nosuchinsky, a sophomore theater major and newcomer to the improv troupe, added that the theme helped cast members explore different personalities and find the humor in being a little kid again.

“We’re all going to be kindergarten students with different personalities and outfits,” she said. “I don’t want to give it away, but [my character] wants to be Miss America.”

The cast has been meeting since September, practicing different games and constantly searching for ways to improve. For Nosuchinsky, rehearsals have been a great learning experience.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” she said. “I came in here very nervous because a lot of people in the cast have done this before. We’re all equals, we’re all directors, we’re all teachers. We’re all helping each other out, giving critiques and it’s a really good atmosphere to do it in.”

The style of improv this year is short-form; fans of Whose Line Is It Anyway? will easily recognize the games that the cast members will play. Scenes can involve almost any type of situation, ranging from characters interacting at a family dinner to a guessing game where the troupe must use charades to spell out a well-known phrase to a team member.

“It’s a great way to get a bunch of people into different combinations,” Nosuchinsky said.

Trainor agreed, saying that short-form improv takes away the pressure to make each game succeed without any mistakes.

“In long-form, if something goes awry early on, everything has to build up and incorporate with each other,” he said. “With this, if one scene goes poorly, it doesn’t matter. Everything is an individual scene.”

Kinderprov also relies heavily on interacting with the audience, which, according to sophomore Steve Sachs, makes the performance much more interesting.

“This is one of the few shows that the audience gets to participate in,” he said. “With Sweet Charity, you sit, you watch, you leave. This is a show, where, if you’re coming, be prepared to talk, to laugh and have a good time.”

Rehearsals were challenging at first, especially for the newcomers in the cast.

“We have a lot of new members to this troupe and you think it would present a difficulty, but we really work together and talk everything through,” Sachs said. “I feel 10,000 times more confident than I did at auditions.”

Nosuchinsky encourages students to come out to see the show, because with the combination of audience participation and on-the-spot comedy, “there’s nothing else like it,” she said.

There’s one last perk of acting in Kinderprov, according to Nosuchinsky.

“I don’t have to memorize lines,” she said.

Alpha Psi Omega’s Kinderprov will be performed tonight and tomorrow night at 8 and 10:30 p.m. in the Spitz Studio Theater. Tickets for the event are $5 and will be sold at the door.

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