The Community Living Center filled with people who enjoyed a performance by the improv troupe In Between The Lines on Jan. 29. On Feb. 11 and 12, students will be able to see this unique and spontaneous theatre experience beyond UR, at the Geva Theatre Center.

In an improv family tree, if you will, the Geva Comedy Improv troupe is IBTL’s cousin, composed of five UR alumni and students like senior and current IBTL member Nels Youngborg and Take Five Scholar Swithun No. The troupe also includes Class of 2003 Paul Nellis, Class of 2003 Chris “Mookie” Harrington and Class of 2004 Adam Litz. The group’s talent further explands from the Rochester area to verseas.

Improv comedy is performed totally unrehearsed, where literally everything is made up on the spot, often with energetic participation from the audience. ABC’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” is a good example.

Geva Comedy Improv troupe recruited members at a UR talent show two years ago and offered these students the opportunity to study with a leading acting group from Atlanta, Ga. – Dad’s Garage. They underwent a year of skills and performance training, with no compensation.

“It was about passion,” Harrington said.

I went to my first Geva Improv troupe show last year when the 2005 Class Council sponsored a trip. Already a fan of IBTL, I was happy to see that there were people in the troupe from UR.

Members of the troupe perform monthly and also offer improv workshops. The next workshop is on Feb. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Todd Union and costs $15. You can also learn more about improv from the IBTL practices – free on Mondays at 10 p.m. in the Drama House.

Improv can be more memorable than film or regular theatre. Each show is based on audience involvement that cannot be duplicated.

Spectators participate by yelling suggestions to the actors that they must use to build their scenes. There are also times when audience members may decide to volunteer to help the performers on stage.

“Our greatest pleasure is having someone who saw last month’s show come up to us and repeat what happened in a scene,” Litz said.

Even if you don’t get that involved, it is fun watching the chaos of improv unfold.

Geva Theatre is located downtown and is a regional theatre with the highest attendance outside of New York City.

Watch as two teams compete on Feb. 11 and see who wins “Best Improviser of the Year” on Feb. 12. The shows begin at 10:30 p.m. and tickets are $7.

Bernstein can be reached at bbernstein@campustimes.org.



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