Hope College’s improv group, Vanderprov, is holding auditions next week, as they look for new members for this year’s shows of fun and laughter.
Katy Smith (‘23) is this year’s president of Vanderprov and has been on the improv team since she auditioned her freshman year.
The team has seven members (with junior, Emily Davidson, currently studying abroad), and they are planning on accepting three more members at auditions. Vanderprov includes members of all years and majors. For example, the manager of the team, Joel Scheneman, is in the mechanical engineering program. Even though many would assume that mostly theatre majors or other performance-centered students would partake in improv, Smith explains that improv is all about “what kinds of people are going to be open to anything.” In other words, “anybody can do improv” and everyone brings something different to the team. Vanderprov rehearsals run later in the evening so that students involved in other on-campus activities can still participate.
Smith reflected on the team aspect of Vanderprov, saying that if she messes up she knows she has a good team behind her, and “they’ll catch me when I fall, and I’ll catch them when they fall.” Together, they can make ideas better, and individually they can grow in confidence knowing that someone has their back.
Smith’s favorite game that the team plays during warm-up is called “Hey, Fred Schneider.” Audiences won’t get to see this game, as it is only used for warm-ups, but it goes something like this: the team creates a rhythm, tapping and clapping their hands and saying “hey, Fred Schneider, what are you doing?” and they all look at someone and that person has to make up something to answer the question and then they pass it on to the next person. According to Smith, the entire team hates the game but she loves it and said she “wants to play that game for an hour straight and just see where we get.”
Smith has been involved in improv since high school and over the many years she has found that “improv is in the nuances… when you’re getting those really specific details, that’s when you find real comedy.” She reflects that some improv groups go to “crazy town”— doing skits in space or other fantasy locations— and while that can be “a fun scene” that audiences might giggle at, “a more fun scene is just a little bit different from real life.” Audiences tend to find more humor in skits that they can relate to, even though it is “harder to be funnier” for the improv team when it’s more specific and real.
Smith encourages students to audition for Vanderprov saying that there are people on the team currently that “didn’t think they were funny, but they are so funny and there’s a reason they are on the team.” She says, “People think improv is about comedy, it’s not… it’s more about being in tune with yourself and letting go and being open to whatever happens,” so for people who “do have that braveness in their soul, you just have to break down those barriers.”
Vanderprov also had its first show this past weekend. Sarah Stevenson (‘23) attended and found the show “really entertaining,” noting that, “It was obvious that the whole team gave it their all and put a lot of thought into the games.” Her favorite game that they played was the Shark Tank presentation skit. Stevenson says that she has gone to a few Vanderprov performances while at Hope and “they never seem to disappoint.”
Auditions are Tuesday, September 27th and Wednesday, September 28th from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Callbacks are Thursday, September 29th from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. They will be held in Schaap 1008. Everyone is invited to come to check them out!