On Friday, March 6, Scared Scriptless, the largest improv group on campus, held its first show of the semester. Entitled “March Improv Madness,” the show featured a game called “Montage” being played three times. The game worked by having small groups stay on stage for approximately 15 minutes and performing a variety of bits that may or may not have had a continuity within themselves.
Rather than the usual method of audience-suggestion traditionally practiced at improv shows, the performers instead gave each other inspiration before their games. The first two groups prepped through “setting the scene,” taking turns describing objects in the world of their upcoming scene. These descriptions were not firm rules, but instead suggestions for the scene that could be used in some bits, but not necessarily in all. The third group began with a set of “rants and raves” where each performer gave a brief monologue on the topic of his or her choice. These two methods of preparation benefitted the performances in varying ways. “Setting the scene” created a physical world for the performers to create whatever they chose within. Conversely, “rants and raves” introduced the concepts to be used in the scene. The performers then createad worlds based around those concepts.
The extended duration of these “Montage” games classify them as long-form improv, as opposed to brief skits, or short-form. Although Scared Scriptless has in the past been known to perform mostly short-form improv, this was its third show in a row that focused around long-form, indicating a shift in the direction of the group. This change of focus could be in response to the several offshoot groups within Scriptless that have emerged this year. All of these groups, generally featuring prominent members of Scriptless, have all had a long-form focus as well. It was shortly after the first show by offshoot-group West End Improv that the parent organization, Scared Scriptless, began to favor long-form.
The show took place in the Pause in front of a large crowd that nearly filled the available seating. High attendance has not been uncommon for Scriptless shows: the group had to turn people away at the doors when they exceeded the capacity of Haugen Theater earlier this year. In fact, it was because of this high demand that the group began to perform in larger venues like the Pause. While the increase in space has been convenient in allowing bigger audiences, it has not come without cost. At times, the performers did not project enough and were difficult to hear, especially over the roaring laughter of a previous joke.
That being said, the larger venue has benefitted performances as the improvers were free to move about the stage, no longer having to narrowly avoid trampling the unlucky souls in the first row. Overall, this show was one of the most well organized and well received shows that Scared Scriptless has had this year, and was a great beginning to its second semester season.
Leaders of Scared Scriptless have promised additional shows coming this semester, but dates have yet to be announced.
Photo Credit: ESSAM BUBAKER/MANITOU MESSENGER