Being able to improvise is a fantastic skill to have: it gets you out of sticky situations with your parents, helps you in interviews, and makes you wittier in front of your friends. The Hawken Improv Club offers an opportunity for students to cultivate their inner acting talent and delve into their creative spirit. Mr. Gainley, Hawken’s Theatre Director and Improv Club’s faculty leader comments that, “Some of the beautiful pieces of theatre and funniest moments I’ve ever experienced as an audience member were sitting and watching improv shows. So I am so glad that Hawken students have been interested The kids involved are often up and running improving their acting and public speaking skills.” Improvisation is built on the idea of acting coherently and building a plot with a climax all based on a given a word as stimulus. Spontaneous, unique, and entertaining, it livens up a dull day with some humor and wit. Since the projection of one’s voice and energetic motions are an important part of improv acting, a usual meeting starts with a brief physical and vocal warm-up. Then, it moves on to skill building activities; this usually consists of some short form games and longer two-person scenes. Short form games are short, unrelated scenes, often creating one liners. According to Joey Tate, one of the senior leaders of Improv Club, short form games help “to draw people out of their shells and get them into the mindset of the group mind.” The games “encourage a lot of acting ‘sans thinking,’” which is one of the main concepts of improv. On the other hand, long form games are developed scenes with more complex characters and plot lines that hold three two person scenes and last about 20-40 minutes. The meeting builds up to complicated forms of improv that are more challenging, but also extremely fun and rewarding.
The Hawken Improv Club is known for being a fun, creative group. Led by Mr. Gainley, Tate, and another senior, Caroline Turner, it creates an entertaining environment for students to be unique and inventive, while simultaneously building students’ improvisation skills in an organized way. Gainley says, “Improv has inspired me for such a long time. It’s all about creating something from nothing.” When asked what the best thing about Improv Club is, Turner answers, “Improv is one of those things that you don’t need any prerequisites to do; all we want is for people to come in with an open mind and a willingness to just let loose and have fun without worrying about their everyday stress.” Another member, Jacob Cashman, remarks that he really enjoys “how much comedy inherently comes from improv. It can be funny without even meaning to be, and that makes it a fun time.”
As Improv Club was started only last year, it is still a relatively new group on campus. However, this year, Improv Club has set its sights on introducing everyone to the skill and establishing a strong foundation. So far, it seems that Improv Club has a pretty promising year ahead of them; This year, with the help of Mr. Gainley and its student leaders, the Improv Club plans on expanding its involvement with the greater Cleveland improv community. In fact, the Club is looking into the possibility of attending improv festivals and it will also hopefully perform shows for the Hawken community in the near future. These performances would be an exciting opportunity for the Improv Club to show off their talent and for the student body to support these performers.
For anyone who is curious about improv, the leaders agree they should give it a try; Tate says “If you are thinking about it, or if you think it’s weird, or it’s something that looks fun but not really your thing, or maybe you think you will hate it, you should still come to a practice and test it out. We have a great time, and it’s a really welcoming environment.”
So now, you no longer have to stress about thinking on your feet. Simply join Improv Club – you won’t regret it!