Making it up as they go along

Jeff Christoff

As you walk through the Conservatory on this weekend, don’t be surprised if you hear echoes of laughter coming from Cloak Theatre.”We do improvisational comedy, a la ‘ComedySportz,’ or in a pop-culture view, the TV show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?,'” Zach Johnson, president, said. “Our goals are to expand our craft and to work as a collective unit to free-form entertaining and fun theater.”

The Lawrence University Improv Troupe (LUIT) has been in operation since Johnson formed the club during the ’02-’03 school year. Its 14 members rehearse a few hours per week, working on a “set list” of games. While the idea of practicing for an improv performance might seem contradictory, this isn’t the case.

“We work a lot to achieve an ‘ensemble’ feel,” Johnson said. “We spend a great deal of time warming up together – focusing, getting comfortable with each other, listening to each other, getting calm, etc.”

LUIT’s advisors, assistant theatre arts professors Kathy Privatt and Tim Troy, can see the positive effects of this group.

“The group is a great example of students working together to pursue a particular type of theater performance,” Privatt said. “As they build their skills/hone their abilities as artists, they also provide really entertaining performances for the Lawrence Community – frequently at a ‘study-break’ time.”

This year’s group is larger than originally intended, and in fact, Johnson plans to reduce the number of members in the troupe. So far, Johnson has individually asked fellow actors to join the group. However, with a number of graduating seniors, LUIT will hold auditions during the next school year.

LUIT is officially recognized by LUCC, but the group did not receive any funding for the past year. “We had amazing opportunities that we had to turn down because we were not offered any funding,” Johnson said.

“Given the opportunity, I know the group would like to do some traveling/working with other improv troupes in the region,” Privatt added. “Time and funding are probably the only contingencies at this point.”

In addition to the shows scheduled for this weekend, they are currently considering some performances towards the end of the term.

“We’re an extremely loose group and our shows are run that way – we’re out there to have fun together and make people laugh,” Johnson said. “We’re all good friends just experimenting.”

LUIT performs Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m. in Cloak Theatre.