During their meetings that take place every Friday from 1:30-3 p.m. in E-211, members of Bellevue College’s improvisational troupe, Stone Tablet put their heads together to incorporate random variables for a seamless, fresh performance.
Traditional theatrical performances block everything from movement around the stage to the articulation of dialogue. The appeal of an improvisational performance is observing ‘unanticipated life.’
Stone Tablet performed in fall quarter in the theatre arts department’s production of “Directions,” which was an accumulation of eight different student-written, directed and acted ten-minute plays. In winter quarter, Stone Tablet performed for the “Showcase night in BC’s Carlson Theatre. They participated in the Kenney Center American College Theatre festival in Sacramento, Calif.
For many students, performing on stage for a live audience is an intimidating prospect. Memorizing lines, singing poorly and scrutiny by those in the audience are just some of the inhibitors of participating in theatre.
Vincent Pham, the team leader of Stone Table, said that, “I think the hardest but most important lesson I received from improv was failing and being okay with failing. When you get past the fear of failing, you begin to make bold and stronger performing choices.”
Trusting fellow performers is crucial successful improv. “The heart of improv is teamwork. Actively listening to your partners and ready to support but not succumb, contribute but not control.”
Pham went on to say that improv also has academic value. “Improv has improved my ability to listen and contribute in other group activities and work,”
Those who have seen Jet City Improv perform in Seattle would report that the entertainment is hysterical and crazy. Michael Lacker, who has been involved in Stone Tablet for a year and a half, explained that improv isn’t all about being funny. “If you are new to improv, it’s not all about comedy. Sometimes the most serious things are the funniest. You don’t need to actively try to be funny; it’s not the best way to go about it. Truth is the best kind of comedy,” said Lacker.
Those who thrive in improvised performance became successful by practicing thinking on their feet, building muscle memory and tryst among those in the troupe.
Often, those skills exhibited in classical stage productions and improvised skits are different and require a different kind of performer. “Sometimes, the best improvisers aren’t the best actors and the best actors aren’t the best improvisers,” said Lacker.
BC students and spectators are encouraged to attend open group meetings on Friday to join the BC improv scene, participate in improv games and learn the basics of improv.