Improv group to perform on campus

When one thinks of improvising, the rehearsed intricacy of a Shakespeare play probably doesn’t come to mind, but the Improvised Shakespeare Company [ISC] aims to change how audiences view the famous playwright.

As a part of its “Festival Series,” the college of musical arts will host the ISC in Kobacker Hall April 5, where viewers will see an entirely improvised play using the style and language of William Shakespeare, all based off a one-word suggestion from the audience at the beginning of the performance.

“That’s the only time we go to the audience for help,” said Brendan Dowling, a member of the group. “After that, everything else is made up.”

The Improvised Shakespeare Company had its beginnings in Los Angeles when improviser Blaine Swen began creating Shakespearean scenes within the context of comedic improvisation. Swen, who is now the director of the company, has since relocated to the ImprovOlympic, a prominent theatre in Chicago specializing in improvisational comedy.

“From there it’s just kind of taken off,” Dowling said.

Susan Hoekstra, director of public events at the college of musical arts, said while the festival series has historically been a showcase for music, they have occasionally ventured into other areas of performance as well.

“When the CMA took [the festival series] over, we decided that every now and then we would put something different on the program,” Hoekstra said.

Hoekstra said the college of musical arts isn’t sure whether they will have acts like the ISC in the future, but they’re excited for how this event will turn out.

“I do think we’re gonna get some different people who might not have come to the series before,” Hoekstra said. “A real good reason to do it is to bring in new audiences.”

Sophomore Adam Lewton, member of University improvisational comedy team Bad Genetics, said the way the ISC performs provides an interesting way to look at improv in general.

“They took professional improv in a different direction,” Lewton said. “That’s just kind of a cool idea in general.”

He would love to see more improv groups come to campus.

“I think it would be really helpful for those of us who are into improv to see professional teams on campus,” Lewton said.

The Improvised Shakespeare Company is performing April 5 at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall. Student tickets are $5.