(Photos by Kelly Ocock)
Every month on either a Friday or Saturday night, Hope College students, faculty and Holland community members gather in the DeWitt theatre to await VanderProv, Hope’s student-run improvisational group. Nothing beats a free comedic study break. This past Saturday, the doors to DeWitt opened at 7 p.m. and the improv team hit the stage half an hour later.
A handful of various improv games were performed throughout the night. One incorporated dialogue from cards that audience members had created. Another less well-known game involved four team members, who gave advice to the crowd by rotating one word at a time. The final game of the night, called “Armando,” started with a word from the audience, which was “chocolate.” Different VanderProv members took turns describing their memories with chocolate and skits were then built off of those memories. After finishing the last scene to peals of laughter and applause, the team thanked everyone for attending and the crowd dispersed.
Although there is no way to truly prepare for the spontaneous characters and scenarios the improv group acts out every month, there is still plenty of time devoted to the final performances, as the team meets twice a week to practice.
“We spend our time at rehearsals playing games, working on building good scenes and coming up with new ways to play games,” Katie McCarthy (’17), president of the VanderProv team, said. “Outside of rehearsal we try to get together after shows to celebrate, and we end up at Steak and Shake a lot.”
The VanderProv team is comprised of eleven students from every grade, many of which were new this school year. Every fall semester there are auditions for new positions on the team. With the limited number of students on the team, everyone becomes a tight knit community in no time.
“I get to do [VanderProv] with some of the funniest and smartest people I will ever meet. It really is a privilege to be a part of,” McCarthy said.
Something as creative and uplifting as improvisation is sure to provide comfort despite classes and heavy homework loads throughout the year. With genuine laughter towards their other team members’ jokes, there is respect and love for everyone’s talent in the group. Not only is it an opportunity to become part of a cohesive team, but members can watch each other grow in the art over the course of the year.
“One of my favorite things about improv is the moment right after I hear the audience’s suggestion for a scene. My mind races with all of the different possibilities of scenes and stories we can tell based on the one word they give us,” McCarthy said. “I also love knowing that the same thing is happening in my partner’s mind, which doubles the possibilities of where the scene will go.”
While at first glance, improvisation may seem like an individual talent, but it actually requires a group effort to create witty dialogue and capture the crowd’s attention.
Keep your eyes peeled next month for VanderProv posters advertising the next show and come have a little study break and a lot of laughter.