Exiting the Stage Right

Seniors Emily Dougherty and Caleb Hansford with their award.

Seniors Emily Dougherty and Caleb Hansford with their award.

Over the weekend of Dec. 3, Theatre Club seniors Caleb Hansford and Emily Dougherty won 3rd in the state for improv at Thespians, an annual gathering of theater clubs from local school districts.

Thespians is one of the most important events of the year for Theatre Club–many different types of events and competitions are organized here, including tech challenges for crew people, acting challenges or improv challenges.

As Caleb and Emily were ready to perform, the judges simply gave them two words (as the prompt) and Caleb and Emily had to create characters. Their first two prompts were “dirt” and “game night.” They morphed it into a sketch about therapy and ended up getting a perfect 20/20 score on their first improv competition. Because they scored so highly, they got to move on to a second competition. They earned their spot in the next round, where their new prompts were “trolley” and “slumber party.” They turned it into a sketch in which Caleb was a storyteller and Emily was a little kid listening to his story.

 I asked Emily and Caleb some questions about their experience. The following responses were a combination of what both Caleb and Emily thought about their experience.

Were you surprised after finding out you moved on after the first competition?

Yes, because we weren’t aware of our 20/20 score at the time, and there were a lot of other teams. Funny enough, the team who ended up winning it all went right after us, so we were aware of the strength of competition.

What kind of things did the judges score you on?

How well we flesh out our characters, our communication with each other, and whether there was any purpose to the scene. The judges also really like when there is movement, “stakes”, and gestures throughout. Another important aspect of the competition is making your act realistic, or at least doing your best to convince the audience your performance was realistic.

What were you thinking before the competition?

Our main goal was to communicate with each other nonverbally and make sure that our ideas would blend well together. After watching other performers and seeing their mistakes, we knew exactly how we wanted to go about it.

What else was going on at the Thespians Conference?

We had three seniors inducted into the Tech (Hannah Whittaker), Excellence (Audrey Kim), and Performance (Taylor Furness) Hall of Fames. Junior Millie Derbyshire won the title of State Thespian Officer and is representing our troupe at the conference next year. We also saw multiple shows put on by our peers from other schools. The overall favorite was “Rent” – there wasn’t a dry eye in that audience.

Emily and Caleb’s next step is to include more improv sessions in their Theatre Club meetings and helping potential performers hone in on their improvisational skills. They encourage other students to join the Theatre club and maybe even give improv a shot! Meetings are usually held every other Wednesday after school in the auditorium.