Monday, December 10, 2012

On the Spot Creation

    This past Sunday night I, along with the friends, family, and faculty of Whitworth’s talented Improvisational students, braved the snow to attend the Cool Whip v. On the Spot Players Improvisation Show in Cowles Auditorium. Displayed in a sudden transfer from stage II to the main stage, five minutes before show time, the night immediately embodied the haphazard feeling of the performance. However, this feeling, in contrast to the usual order of planned performances, appeared to be desired. Once in a new seat, I observed the auditorium fill with a pretty large crowd, suggesting at both the popularity and talents of the performers. As the show finally began, the some-what jumbled group silenced and the players were introduced. In one corner stood the On the Spot Players sporting bright purple and nervous grins; on the other, the seasoned Cool Whip performers in a crazy slew of green and costumes. The battle commenced, its host explaining the orders of performance. The night would start with a rap contest and proceed with swapping acts between the two groups. Through tales of lying squirrels, the quest to fill ceiling holes, hungry pandas, interrogating ‘cereal’ killers, angry fishers, and whatever other odd combinations imagined, the audience and I survived uncontrollable bouts of laughter and surprise.
    Although all the acts were entertaining, my favorite was the On the Spot Players’ ‘Oreo Performance’. In this game, the chosen players had to act out an unplanned scene in a minute and then proceed to duplicate that scene three more times in shorter and shorter time frames (the last being a frenzied one second act). As elderly grocers fighting over Oreos, the actors did an amazing job quickly creating a performance that fit the goal of the game perfectly. In their unique phrasing and funny movements, whether planned or not, they tailored the skit perfectly to its guidelines, leaving the audience in stitches. Not only did these performers impress me, but all of them did. In just their bravery to jump into these chaotic situations, they beamed with self-confidence. Also, even more so, their abilities to quickly create characters and produce laughs amazed me. Working together in the sole aim to please the audience, the groups easily gained the favor and applause of the crowd. Especially W.A.C.y’s very own Gabby Perez and Airon Lynch, who impressively sported their skills as rappers, storytellers, and puppets.
Airon and Gabby as 'puppets'
   In watching this overflow of creativity and excitement, I found myself comparing the improvisational nature of the performance to the making of other forms of art. Sometimes as a result of unwanted mistakes or lack of materials, it’s the job of an artist to quickly problem solve and design on the spot. This lack of perfected assurance births originality and the unique life of each piece. Even in plays with scripts or the stocked studio environment, a sense of risk lies. There is never a certainty of the audience’s favor until the moment of revealing, the curtains fall, or the gallery’s open. Through this the artist, just as the improvisational player, must be charged with a trust in their abilities and ideas. It makes me ask: how do you incorporate the “unexpected” into your art processes?
    And who won the show? (Since despite its good nature and overall success, it was still a competition.) After the votes were tolled and drum roll played, the winner was… The On the Spot Players! -A well deserving bunch in my opinion.


  1. Great play by play! It sounded like a worth while test of wit. Although we didn't take home the gold, it sounds like we put up a great fight. Improv is such an interesting aspect of drama. It's so quick, the say brevity is the soul of wit. But I think when it comes to an improv, the longer the better.

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  3. A well written and observant review of the events that took place. While overlooking the blog, this post caught my eye. (As I was one of the actors involved.) While I'm not attuned to art reviews, I feel you did a fair job of embodying the night's events. The show went well, the audience that attended was well over capacity of the original seating. Improv took place both on and off the stage, as we made more room by switching the performance area. The skits played out (mostly) well. The costumes sported by Cool Whip seemed a tad "unprofessional" as they didn't fit in with any of the skits, the only purpose they served was as a: "look what they're wearing." Not every skit was explained thoroughly, and led to some confusion among players and audience members alike. This served as a good element as it led to surprise laughter as those watching realized what was happening.