After a hectic but successful semester, Union’s Blank Slate Improv group is putting on a special Christmas show Saturday to say thank you to their supporters. But for leaders Elizabel Sartin, junior theater major, and Garyn McIntyre, sophomore theater and French double major, putting on a show is about more than just getting laughs.
“It’s been a cool way to meet people,” Sartin said. “It’s disarming, and it brings people together in a way that is really unique.”
McIntyre agreed. “Everyone kind of knows the improv team by now,” he said.
McIntyre also said he hopes the show will be a stress-reliever before finals week. “You have to laugh and relax if you’re going to retain any information,” he said.
Saturday’s show will feature all-new improv games, Sartin said. McIntyre said it will be thirty minutes to an hour longer than previous shows and will showcase the group of nine’s talents more fully.
While nothing that happens during the shows is rehearsed or prepared, McIntyre and Sartin have the team practice games to see which pairings work best together, since the members have different talents ranging from voices and impressions to physical comedy, McIntyre said.
“We are just teaching structure, normally,” he said.
Sartin said the team members have to build trust and know that their partners won’t “leave them out to dry,” but will help them move forward if they ad-lib themselves into a tight or awkward spot.
The team rarely knows which games they will be playing until the night of the show, Sartin said. “But since we’re getting prompts from a live audience and nobody is planted out there giving us prompts, the scenarios will always be different. And that’s what makes improv so interesting,” she said.
McIntyre said it can be stressful not knowing in advance how a show will go. “Every time, there’s a 50/50 chance that this is either going to flop or it’s going to be really, really good,” he said.
For Sartin, the hardest part of improv is her leadership role. “Trying to teach your peers something can be really daunting,” she said.
But both Sartin and McIntyre agreed that the rewards—the enthusiasm and support of their fellow students and increased confidence in other types of theater performance—are worth it.
“Even if no one ever told me I did even an okay job at improv, I would still do it just for me,” Sartin said.
Sartin encouraged students to come to the show to decompress and celebrate a semester of work. “It’s just a fun way to say thank you and Merry Christmas and goodbye for a little bit,” she said.
She and McIntyre said they look forward to next semester’s shows, which will feature guest hosts like Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Jared Dauenhauer and President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver.
The show will be 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in the W. D. Powell Theater. Tickets are $3, or $2 for people who wear ugly Christmas sweaters, Sartin said.
To keep up with Blank Slate Improv, visit facebook.com/blankslateimprov or follow them on Twitter at @UUBlankSlate.