Improvising, or adapting to whatever situation is at hand, is the number one priority of the high school Improv Troupe, led by Ryan Cologne ’21, Joe Fantasia ’21, and John Muenning ’21, and advised by Performing Arts Director Ms. Kara Sullivan. Therefore, the troupe was ready to adapt to whatever COVID-19 threw at them.
“The leaders have done a wonderful job from the get-go. Starting with this summer, we would meet to discuss how we could make the troupe work during COVID-19,” said Sullivan.
Due to their extensive planning, the troupe was able to figure out an alternative to rehearsals in the packed black box theatre at the high school called the Little Theatre.
“For a few weeks during the hybrid period, we were able to hold outdoor rehearsals while masked and socially distanced, which were running very smoothly until the high school went full remote,” said Muenning.
Now, the troupe meets for an hour on Zoom once a week on either Tuesday or Thursday to exercise their improv skills. They hope to go back to in person masked rehearsals if possible, but the cold weather makes this not an opportunity for the time being.
A normal rehearsal is filled with playing improvisation games and being in close contact with the other troupe members, so the switch to online rehearsals was a hard one for every member, even new ones. Elias Mitrokostas ’23 is part of the troupe for the first time this year.
“Improv and acting are all about facial expressions and body language, which are both almost unreadable over the computer. As a new member, this can make it difficult for me to jump in, but I think rehearsals so far have been great considering the circumstances,” said Mitrokostas.
Since improv is such a raw activity, it can be difficult for the troupe to foster that same feeling and environment online. However, the leaders have worked together to ensure that each rehearsal is just as enjoyable and educational as it would be in person. Along with adapting the normal rehearsal routine, the leaders remain hopeful and positive about the changes the troupe has had to undergo this year.
“As improv games usually rely on close proximity within the space, as well as loud volumes, the majority of our regular game ensemble has had to undergo massive changes to exist on Zoom,” said Fantasia. “Though we hope that going back to normal will allow more creative liberties for our actors, we hope that this will inspire versatility and performance nuance in our actors even as we return to normalcy.”
The positive attitude of the leaders reflects into the members of the troupe as well, keeping them eager to learn more about improv even if it is disappointing that they can not get the normal experience.
“At times I feel like I’m missing out on the normal Improv Troupe experience. I understand these changes are necessary, but it’s still a bit disheartening. On the positive side, everyone in the troupe is super friendly and it feels great to be a part of the group. I’m really liking being a member, and I’m excited for whatever comes in the future,” said Mitrokostas.
Finally, the leaders have to give credit to the talented group of students that make up the troupe, because they are what allows rehearsals to run so smoothly and be so enjoyable.
“The new group members are all hilariously funny, but most importantly, are incredibly enthusiastic to find unorthodox solutions in order to still perform. We couldn’t be happier and more thankful for our troupe,” said Cologne.