Tag: scared scriptless

Comedy group gains momentum

Scared Scriptless, St. Olaf’s improv comedy group, held its annual “A Very Potter Improv Show” on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 in Haugen Theater. Each show featured one half of the group’s actors divided into two teams, or “houses.” The Slytherin and Ravenclaw houses competed on Friday, while Gryffindor and Hufflepuff battled on Saturday.

The night featured various improv games such as “What you got?” where groups of three competed in a mini team rap battle, and “Blind Line,” which required the improvisers to blindly incorporate the audience’s dialogue suggestions into their scene. The weekend was a success, as both nights had Haugen filled to the limit well before the show began.

Scriptless’ origin is unconfirmed, but current members believe it was formed in 2002, when a group of friends met to do improv together.

The group has been growing over the past several years. Casey Bouldin ’15, the president of Scriptless, has seen significant change during her time at St. Olaf.

“My freshman year, the group was lucky to have more than 15 or so people at practice. It’s really the last three years that has seen a boom in popularity,” Bouldin said. This year, more than 30 students attend the Wednesday and Sunday night rehearsals.

Improv, by definition, is a form of unplanned acting that involves multiple actors creating a scene that is based on a prompt. In many cases, the prompt is given by the audience, making the entire show very engaging. Short form improv shows, like last weekend’s, are made up of a variety of three-minute scenes.

“The biggest thing that sets [improv] apart from other comedy, I would say, is the team,” Bouldin said. “Improv is a team sport, and while there are some very talented people who have done one-person shows, most improv is done with at least two people. Stand-up is me comedy; improv is we.”

There are very few rules when it comes to improvisation, but most scenes are anchored by the idea of “yes, and…” This rule helps the scene continue, developing the characters and plot smoothly and simultaneously. By saying “yes, and…” the improvisers are accepting the ideas of their castmates and adding onto them. Rejecting creative ideas causes the scene to become stagnant and die quickly. Such scenes are usually hard to perform and painful to watch.

“The first rule of improv is that there are no rules, but there are guidelines that, when followed, produce really strong pieces. My top three guidelines are to have fun, listen and don’t try to be funny,” Bouldin said.

Scriptless meets every Wednesday and Sunday night in Viking Theater from 9:30 to 11:00. Rehearsal usually begins with some sort of warm-up to get everyone focused and energized after the school day. Announcements follow, and then the group is led in a variety of games that are focused around one particular guideline, such as setting, object work or characterization.

The group performs three shows per semester and one during Interim. The group has had a great turnout this year, and Bouldin said she hopes for even larger crowds in the future.

“We actually had to turn people away for the first time ever, and I want to apologize to everyone who didn’t get to see the show,” Bouldin said. “We’re in the Pause next, so everyone who wants to will be able to get in, I promise. Our popularity just humbles me. It’s incredible.”

In response to anyone who has been hesitant about joining improv, Bouldin said that it’s a group for everyone.

“Scriptless is one of the most diverse clubs on campus in terms of backgrounds and interests, and I think that is so, so cool,” Bouldin said. “Sure, we’ve got a theater major or two, but we’re made up of everyone. English, music, neuroscience, chem, Latin, education, bio – you name it, we’ve probably got it. And for those doubters out there who want to come but don’t think they’re funny or whatever: most people in Scriptless have never done improv before joining, and being funny is the last thing we want from you.”

whitfo1@stolaf.edu

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Homecoming performances prove super

Ah, the smell of pumpkin chai lattes in the Cage as siblings sprint past event advertisements in order to tackle their Ole counterparts: Welcome to Homecoming Weekend. When students were not busy reconnecting with family this past weekend, the campus offered several sources of entertainment, ranging from comedic performances to a diverse array of concerts.

King of the Hill

An annual tradition, the King of the Hill male beauty pageant/talent show kicked off the weekend on Friday night. In keeping with the homecoming theme of “Super Oles,” candidates of all class years made their most heroic attempts to charm the judges. The competition included five categories: pickup lines, beachwear, talent, original superheroes and Q&A.

Each contestant added their own flair to the competition this year. David Hastings ’14 was escorted by campus celebrity Tha Russell, a Bon Appetit employee who works in Stav Hall. In exchange for this honor, Hastings vowed on stage never again to steal extra pieces of fruit from the cafeteria.

Connor Gunderson ’14 made waves during the beachware competition, dressing in traditional flyfishing garb and “reeling in” various audience members. During the talent competition, John Schwirtz ’14 emotionally strummed Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” on the guitar, garnering applause and laughs from the audience.

These three contestants’ creativity was rewarded with entry into the final round of elimination, where, in keeping with the theme, they appeared on stage in their alter-ego superhero costumes: Bearded Justice Schwirtz, Saul Bunyan Gunderson and the Solar Panel Hastings. During the Q&A session, Bearded Justice pushed puns, Saul Bunyan entertained with practical answers and the Solar Panel humored viewers with his “happy to be here” attitude and realistic answers about a solar panel’s darkest fear hint: darkness.

Though the entire show elicited well-deserved laughter, it did have a tendency to drag, especially during transitions. Rapid elimination caused mild confusion in the audience, as it was difficult to track competitors who were not well-introduced. Still, the King of the Hill hosts glided through these technical hiccups with grace, ensuring that all audience members were able to partake in the enjoyable event.

Ultimately, quick wit and well-timed humor pushed Hastings above the other competitors, and he was enthusiastically crowned both “King of the Hill” and the “Fan Favorite.” Elated, Hastings celebrated the win with a victory lap around stage on his scooter. Gunderson emerged as the Judge’s pick for “Most Talented.”

Scared Scriptless

Friday evening progressed with a rib-shatteringly comedic performance by the St. Olaf student-run improvisation group Scared Scriptless. With their repeated, rewound skits and on-the-spot storytelling, the group captured an organic flow that left the audience roaring. Storylines never felt forced, and if they were ever close to becoming redundant, a whistle blow would prompt the actors to create a new version of the scene. It was maybe even more enjoyable than the professional “Second City” improvisation group that performed on campus earlier this fall and at times felt a bit stilted.

The subjects of Scared Scriptless’ skits varied from cheese whiz featured in a skit performed in the style of an opera to carrots and dinosaur narcoleptics which appeared in a comedic murder.

The group will perform an all-new show in late October.

Nelly’s Echo

On Saturday, Nelly’s Echo performed in the Pause for students and visiting family and friends. The artist gained notoriety after appearing on the television show “The Voice.”

Nelly’s Echo solo artist Nelson Emokpae breathed a cheerful spirit into an already-exciting day with his music. His style was reminiscent of that of John Mayer and Jason Mraz. Utilizing a simple cajon drum and a guitar, Nelly’s Echo sought to inspire students with the message that success is a choice and that no one can tell you otherwise.

Despite a small crowd and a few miscommunications with his percussionist, Nelly’s Echo kept spirits high and drew in all who listened. Before a cover of Jason Mraz’s song “I’m Yours,” he told the audience that he was going to sing it in his native tongue, Nigerian. When the chorus arrived, the audience stopped expectantly, and the artist yelled “Psych!” He had been singing gibberish!

Musical Ensembles

Finally, the St. Olaf Band, St. Olaf Philharmonia, Viking Chorus, Chapel Choir, Manitou Singers and Norseman Band all performed throughout the weekend, consistently displaying their hard work and talent.

As a whole, homecoming weekend abounded with activities that could be enjoyed by all. Job well done, Super Oles!

pilkingt@stolaf.edu

Photo Credit: SIRI KELLER/MANITOU MESSENGER

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Homecoming weekend celebrates life on the Hill

Homecoming and Family Weekend at St. Olaf is a traditional celebration of our elders, whether returning alumni, the parents of current students. As the first major event of the year, the weekend is filled with a diverse array of events for current students too, some of which, like the Homecoming Dodgeball Tournament, Affirmation Day and the sale of Homecoming T-Shirts, have already passed. However, the majority of Homecoming happenings are still to come:

Friday, Oct. 4

Dance Department “First Glimpse”: At 4 p.m., get a preview of dances choreographed by St. Olaf students in Dittmann Center, Studio 1.

King of the Hill: Gather in the Pause Mane Stage at 7:30 p.m. for King of the Hill. Half talent show, half beauty pageant, this event features eight Ole men competing for the title of Mr. St. Olaf by displaying their fashion skills and personal talents. The winner is determined by a panel of judges made up of well-known St. Olaf administrators and this year it is rumored that a special guest will crown the victor.

Scared Scriptless Performance: After King of the Hill, St. Olaf’s own Scared Scriptless will take the stage with uproarious, improvised comedy with a “heroic” twist in honor of this year’s Homecoming theme, “Super Ole.” The troupe will perform at 9:30 p.m.

Ghosts of St. Olaf College: At 8 p.m., gather on the steps of the Speech-Theater Building, where Greg Kneser, vice president of student life, will lead a tour of St. Olaf’s haunted places and tell the stories of our school’s apparitions. A much-loved event, the tour will end behind Thorson Hall at 9 p.m. with a bonfire, hot chocolate and s’mores. In case of rain, the event will take place in the Black and Gold Ballrooms.

Saturday, Oct. 5

Homecoming Festival: Saturday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m., meander over to the Quad, where musician Nelly’s Echo, who appeared on the popular television show “The Voice,” will perform along with several campus bands. Bon Appetit will cater lunch and many student organizations will be tabling for parents and alumni.

Flaten Art Barn Open House: Head towards the wind turbine where the doors of the newly rebuilt and renovated Flaten Art Barn will be open from 3-5 p.m. A presentation at 3:30 p.m. will detail the building’s iconic architecture and the new “green” elements that have been added since the renovation.

St. Olaf Band Concert: The St. Olaf Band performs in the Skoglund Center Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and not ticketed.

Homecoming Dance: DJ Drip Drop presides at this Superhero-themed dance in the Pause Mane Stage from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Sunday, Oct. 6

Family Weekend Concert: The Manitou Singers, Norsemen Band, Philharmonia and Viking Chorus each take the stage in the Skoglund Center Auditorium at 3:30 p.m. This concert is also free and no tickets are necessary.

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