Whose line is it anyway?

by  Ellen Rossow

rossowel@mnstate.edu

Theater senior Laura Berger has a solution for a case of the Mondays — Blackfriars Improv.

It’s an extension of Blackfriars, the preemminent theater organization on campus. While Blackfriars as a whole offers opportunities, events and trips for those interested in theater, Blackfriars Improv provides an outlet for those interested in expanding a variety of skills.

“You can take away many things from improv,” Berger said.  “Some of the most important ones … are trust and listening skills. Doing improv helps one think on their feet, helps their mind work faster. These are important skills to have for many situations all of us will face, like interviews and public speaking.”

Berger is one of the teachers at Monday night improv and has watched the club change over the years.

“It’s been around in many shapes and forms for many years,” she said. “It first started out as just theater students getting together late at night to goof around. Over the years, it has become more of a weekly workshop to teach the rules and elements of improv to beginners and for regulars to continually work and better their improv skills. It’s still a lot of goofing around, just more structure.”

According to Berger, “goofing around” is to be expected in improv. Having fun is one of the main reasons people like to attend.

“I originally started going because it was fun,” she said. “It helped me as a performer, and it’s a great way to let loose and release some steam.”

For film senior Michael Robinson, how much fun he has and the judgement-free atmosphere are the main reasons he attends Monday nights.

“I do improv because it allows me to be as creatively free as I possibly can with no fear of judgement,” he said. “There are no mistakes in improv.”

Robinson is one of many non-theater participants. Being inclusive to all majors is something Berger loves about the group.

“When I first started coming to improv, it was mainly only theater majors who went,” she said. “Since then though, we’ve gotten more students from outside the theater department, like film majors, art majors, communications, etc. This year has been great because we’ve been getting a lot of non-theater freshmen on Monday nights. I hope this continues and Blackfriars Improv becomes a place for all majors to come and learn and have fun.”

Theater junior Annie Peck encourages anyone with even a small interest in the group to check it out.

“It’s open to everyone, and everyone is welcome even if they’ve had no prior experience,” she said. “Even if you don’t want to participate, it’s fun to watch. Sometimes, it’s even more fun to watch.”

Monday nights generally consist of playing improv games focusing on short-form improv, teaching people to listen and respond to others, and building stories and characters.

Blackfriars Improv meets every Monday at 10:05 p.m. in the Green Room, CA 117. To keep up with any schedule or location changes, Berger suggests interested individuals join the Blackfriars Improv Facebook group.

“MSUM students should know that Blackfriars Improv is a fun, friendly and safe environment,” Berger said. “This is a great way to meet people, and it gives you something fun to look forward to on Mondays.”

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