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improv performing this Thursday

Connor Hess, left, and Paul Gary at a prior FHS Comedy Improv Team performance.- Photo submitted
Farragut High School’s Comedy Improv Team will perform beginning at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 29, in the red-wing auditorium at FHS.

FHS theater teacher Lea McMahan said the comedy improvisation performances are formatted just like the hit television show “Whose Line is it Anyway?” staring Drew Carey.

“We have a host who runs the show and they call up various members of the team and they give them the game that they are supposed to play. They get suggestions like locations and ideas for characters from the audience and then the improv team has to take it from there,” she added.

The FHS team is the only comedy improv team in the area.

“I don’t think there is an improv team in East Tennessee. There might be one in Memphis, but for a while we were the only one in the state, so it is kind of unusual,” McMahan said.

The team originally was created 16 years ago out of necessity.

“The theater department needed to earn some money really quickly to put on a show and so they did a couple of improv shows because they are cheap. There are no royalties to pay or anything like that, and it was such a big success that they started doing it a couple of times a semester,” McMahan said.

The current team consists of 10 members and auditions are held each semester to give as many opportunities to students as possible.

Senior team member Madelynne Buckelew said, for her, improv is a way to temporarily forget some of the stresses of her senior year.

I have three [advanced placement] classes and I work a job, so I don’t have a lot of free time, but the one thing I try to make time for is improv.

“Because when I am up on the stage at a show it is like nothing else exists and all that matters is that moment,” she added.

Madelynne is the most senior member of the team, with three years of experience. She said she prefers improvisation to traditional stage acting.

“I have done stage acting but it is completely different. I get more nervous for stage acting because there are more expectations to live up to … I have to know my lines and I have to be here for a certain part, but with improve it is completely free,” she said.

That is not to say improv is easy.

“It is terrifying,” Madelynne said.

“Thinking about it I get so nervous, but after I play my first game I am good to go and I know that everything is going to be okay,” she added.

Sophomore Paul Gary is now in his third semester on the team.

“Improv to me is glorious,” he said.

“With improv you don’t have a script so you don’t know what you are going to do, so you get up on stage and say something and hope the audience laughs,” he added.

Paul, who most recently was seen as Pony Boy in the FHS production of S.E. Hinton’s “The Outsiders” said if forced to choose between improvisation and stage acting, “I would c]have to choose option C. I couldn’t pick.

“Improv is about confidence and knowing that the audience has faith in you and your teammates know that you will steer them in the right direction,” he added.

In addition to the Oct. 28 performance the team will hold performances Thursday, Nov. 18 and Thursday, Dec. 9, both beginning at 7:30 in the red wing auditorium.

Cost of each show is $5 and tickets will be available at the door.


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