While many students spent their Saturdays at the football game, some others chose to practice their improv skills.
The University of Miami’s improv comedy team, UProv, recruited new members during Labor Day weekend and had the semester’s first rehearsal on Saturday.
In improv comedy, performances are made up on the spot rather than scripted or fully rehearsed. Actors learn techniques that train them to think of ideas spontaneously.
“UProv’s first rehearsal was focused on integrating the new members and learning the basics for successful improv comedy. The fundamentals include teamwork, trust and opening up to team members,” said Tim Whelan, the team’s coach.“We’re so excited to see fresh faces and new people with so many creative ideas,” he said.
The first few rehearsals will focus on establishing this open atmosphere. Later rehearsals will train team members on essential improv skills such as reacting on instinct, character development and storytelling.
“Since our first performance is so soon, we’re hoping to prepare a few games that include the audience just so people see how fun improv can be,” Whelan said.
UProv’s first performance will be held on Sept. 20 during Poetry Slam. The location has not yet been decided.
Auditions took place on the third floor of the Student Activities Center. Whelan led the auditions with help from all seven current team members.
There were nine students who showed up to the auditions, a larger group than Whelan expected. The verdict on who would be invited to join was a team decision.
“Somehow we have to narrow all these people down to one, two or three people,” said Trent Seale, a UProv member.
The newest members of the team are Leo Thorp, Ryan Rebagay and Tim Kohn.
Improv comedy is not just about being funny. Whelan used various drama exercises that were designed to keep participants involved.
“We want to see how well you work as a team,” he said. “When you’re on stage, you can’t discuss what you’re thinking. You have to trust your team members.”
No experience was necessary to audition. Students like junior Leo Thorp saw the auditions as an opportunity for a musical composition major to gain a skill.
“I am here to explore the outer reaches of my comfort zone,” he said. “This could apply to other areas like jazz because you have to improvise a lot.”
After about an hour of auditions, the laughter in the room subsided as students left to attend a barbecue, leaving the current team members to deliberate.
UProv, the selected name for the improv team, was founded last spring. Whelan wanted to establish a student organization after he noticed that there was an interest to perform improv comedy.
“We got a lot of really positive feedback right away,” he said.
There were nine original cast members, and the team started performing after two weeks of practice.
Last semester, the team performed at two on-campus events. Whelan hopes to organize at least five performances this semester.
Since he is graduating this year, Whelan said he is very excited to have a full year to work with the team.
“My main priority is to make sure there is a legacy left behind when I graduate,” he said.
IF YOU GO
What: UProv’s first performance at Poetry Slam
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 20
For more information, visit facebook.com/UProv or email Tim Whelan at firstname.lastname@example.org.