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Feb. 14, 2013

S.T.A.G.E. spawns new improv group

By Kelsey Smith

Members of S.T.A.G.E., a student organization within the Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance, have started an improv group. The group is working toward participating in the upcoming Vaudeville Extravaganza in March.

Improv is short for improvisational theater. In it, most or all of what is performed is created in the moment with little or no planning. The dialogue, actions and story are created collaboratively among the players as the improvisation unfolds. Improv can be both comedic and serious, and has been applied to film performances as well as stage.
Cleveland State’s improv group — known as “S.T.A.G.E. Coach” — started soon after the semester began, though many in the department have been interested in starting an improv group for some time.

“I had been wanting to start this group for a while, and with the help of Tim Maca we finally got it started this semester,” Dan Rand, a student majoring in Theater, said.

Rand and Maca are spearheading the group, which currently consists of 16 Theater students, but is open to anyone interested in learning the techniques of improvisation.

“The group was formed to teach anyone who is interested in the basics of improv and gradually mold them into advanced improvisers,” Rand explained.

Since the group is still in its early days, they aren’t quite ready to perform just yet. They practice every Tuesday at noon in the Black Box space on the fifth floor of the Middough Building. Anyone is welcome to watch the troupe practice.

The Department of Theatre and Dance will be holding their first Vaudeville-style performance this spring.

Vaudeville is a genre of theater that features a variety of entertainment. It was at the height of popularity in the United States from the early 1800s until the early 1930s.

Each performance is made up of a series of unrelated acts, types of which include dance, comedians, magicians and one-act plays, among others. Vaudeville has been called “the heart of American show business” because it developed as a combination of all other types of performance.

Cleveland State’s Vaudeville Extravaganza will be showcasing student performers, and follows the model “anything goes.” The audience is permitted to heckle if they find an act to be less than desirable. The improv group, just one of the acts expected to participate in the show, will be performing a few short improv games.

The Vaudeville show is the brainchild of S.T.A.G.E. members and adviser Aaron Benson. The department is looking to premiere it at the end of March.

Photo courtesy of Kristen Kleemann-Whitney