A night at the improv
February 21, 2017
Throughout the academic year, Central drama students have the opportunity to perform musicals, plays, skits and attend various performances as well as become inducted into the International Thespian Society. Alongside these offerings, the drama department also features a student improv team, which is composed of ITS inductees and practices during the week, competing with other high schools in the Omaha area.
The 2016-2017 Central improv team was made up of sophomore Lydia Baum, juniors Riley Kessler and Romyn Peterson and seniors Remy Lupo, Will Donlan, Lily Gilliland and Nathan Farrell. All of these students are members of ITS and the selection process was determined by drama advisor Scott Mead who made the final decision to choose these seven students.
Unlike much of the other types of performance the drama department conducts, improv requires far more originality and new content as very little information is provided beforehand. As such the key often comes down to balancing creativity with believability and as Farrell said, this can be tough. He said, “I loved the challenge of it. It is a lot harder than it seems trying to come up with believable and emotional storylines and it also requires a lot of teamwork to be successful.” Drama has been a mainstay of Farrell’s Central story and for him as a senior improv was a fitting way to begin rounding out his Eagle career, as he said, “I fell in love with it.” He also added that the honors drama class does weekly workshops with the local improv group 88improv.
Due to various scheduling conflicts and differing grade levels, not all members of the improv team are in the honors drama course, Mead would lead his own improve workshop after school once a week which was open to any ITS member or just someone looking to participate. To provide extra practice, the improv team also got together over Christmas break to rehearse.
All this practice was done in order to prepare for the metro International Thespian Society festival, where each school’s improv teams played three “games” and were judged. Out of these schools, four were chosen to move on to the finals where each one performed in front of the whole festival. During this competition the Central team advanced through the first round, and finished fourth in the finals.
Because of this stellar performance, the Central drama department also hosted its own Improv Night at the school, so as to bring the energy and entertainment to an audience a little closer to home. This event was open to other members of drama classes, those who had participated in the workshops and even two stage members of 88improv who performed with the group as well. Farrell added, “We are participating in the Road Show and we have thought about maybe having another improv night this semester. Regardless, improv night will for sure become an annual event at school from now on.”
For Farrell, improv has proved to not only be its own unique activity, but also a further extension of his passion for drama and Central’s drama department and one he hopes many other future students will continue to take the opportunity to join. He said, “Being able to work with so many nice people who support you is something amazing. Me deciding to do drama is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.”