December 23, 2016
A robot on a blind date with a hamster. A moose apocalypse. A politician who can finally lick his elbow. At the Atholton improv show, “You Gotta See This, You Gotta Hear This” is more than just the name of a game. Last Wednesday, AHI Tuna, Atholton’s improv group, had its first performance of the year, under the leadership of senior Andrew Wohlstetter.
“At the very beginning I was actually very terrified. I had never run something that big before and I didn’t expect the audience to be that big. There were a lot of laughs. The parents loved watching their kids.”
The actors played numerous games throughout the show, including Superhero Funeral, in which actors chronicle their characters’ memories with a superhero and then act it out when the superhero comes back to life.
“I liked when my friend was shrek,” said senior Adira Colton. “That was a good time. She was lying down on the floor. People told stories about her and then they had to act them out. Lord Farquaad had some feelings, so did Fiona, and Donkey.”
One actor asked why Lord Farquaad would keep coming back, given his rivalry with Shrek. “I have to keep coming back,” Lord Farquaad replied. “There’s so many sequels.”
Other games included clueless politician, a miming exercise where actors playing a candidate have to try to guess their qualifications for office and positions on certain issues based on a mime performance from a fellow actor. Qualifications that came from the audience ranged from “being able to like your elbow” to “not cooking by the book.”
“Really, suggestions are the only thing we want from audiences when we perform,” said Wohlstetter. The crowd was indeed more than eager to participate. “We got a lot of alumni from past years and they really supported me.”
One Atholton alum in the audience was Joseph Hiep, former leader of AHI Tuna. Hiep joined the group for the exercise “You Gotta Hear This, You Gotta See This,” wherein someone tells a story, and it gets passed along telephone style through a combination of mime and oral description. The original story began with a robot on a blind date with a hamster trying to bury a dead body. Somehow, it morphed into a robot fainting multiple times at his ingenious fossil discovery. Sadly, the hamster was lost in translation.
“I really liked how they had fun with what they were doing,” said Hiep.
The audience enjoyed themselves as well throwing out suggestions and volunteering to take part in some audience participation activities. Parent Sandy Spiegel complimented the “spontaneity” of the group.
At one point in the show, an actor brought in a ukulele and freestyled a narrative that other improvers had to act out. Another game involved telling the same story in a minute, then half a minute, then 15 seconds, then 5 seconds. Still another game, everyday olympics entailed a some contestants attempting to accomplish an everyday task, in this case, connecting to the wifi, but with an added obstacle. One contestant’s device lacked gravitational pull, while the other didn’t have a device to begin with.
The Improv Club has been rehearsing since the beginning of this school year on Thursdays in Ms. Stackhouse’s room, where they develop their styles and techniques.
According to Wohlstetter, each actor brings a different style to the group. According to Wohlstetter, scenes with Vice-President Thomas Finegar “have a very definitive character. He’s always very excited for whatever is going on.”
Finegar added, “There was this one game, I forget what game it was, but I ended up as a goat. I bit and kicked Andrew literally every other second.” Wohlstetter replied “Obviously that didn’t feel good, but people were laughing, and other people’s laughter is what gives me strength.”