Comedy improv group preps for weekend gigs

G-Troupe members Brian McAughan, Lauren Roe, Caroline Munsell and Kasey Johnson rehearse a “budget cut” game preparing for their first weekend of shows this semester. Cole Tompkins | Multimedia Editor

By Carson Lewis | Page One Editor

Imagine being in front of an auditorium filled with people: standing-room only. There is no script, and no director, but the performance is about to start. All eyes are directed toward the stage, and no one in the room, not even the actors, fully understand what will be presented in the next hour.

A terrifying nightmare come true for some, the students in Guerrilla Troupe, an Improvisation comedy group, see the situation as electrifying.

In fact, the group will be in that exact environment this weekend: at 10 p.m. Friday, and at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday in Mabee Theater in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $3.

The group described the upcoming weekend shows as an opportunity for people to see Baylor theater talent and support their organization. G-Troupe, as it’s called shorthand, is composed of 16 members who share a love of improvisational theatre, a form of acting where most of the performance is spontaneous and unscripted. Entire characters and scenes arise from a single thought in an actor’s mind, or an audience member’s suggestion.

Houston senior Brian McAughan said this kind of theater is difficult.

“It kind of looks like a bunch of people goofing off onstage making jokes. But when you look more into it, we take it very seriously,” McAughan said. “We’ll do a scene, we’ll pause, say ‘What’s going through your mind, what’s your character doing?’ There are rules and practices you can hammer in.”

The group works weekly to improve the art of improvisation, practicing 10:30 p.m. to midnight every Tuesday and Thursday in the art lobby of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. Members work through “games” that test the limits of their improvisation skills and quick-thinking skills to prepare for the performance in front of a live audience. An example of one of the games, called “budget cut,” is an initial scene by several actors, which is then repeated numerous times, each repetition beginning with a “cut,” in which an actor is removed until a single performer must perform the actions of the initial scene without any other actors.

Many of those in the group describe the “electric” feeling of a G-Troupe show, and state that they were fans of G-Troupe before joining.

“My freshman year, the first [G-Troupe] show was oversold. We were in this theater, there were people packed into it, people cramming into their seats, people standing in the back, and the energy was so magical,” McAughan said. “I thought it was so funny, and I looked up to the [actors] in it so much. I idolized them. I was like ‘I want to be a part of that. Really badly.’”

McAughan auditioned but was initially rejected. He said the majority of those currently in G-Troupe were rejected by the group before eventually joining at a later audition.

Arlington senior Adam Karlson described the difficulty in joining the group.

“It’s very tough to get in the first time,” Karlson said. “The only reason I got in my first try was because I saw a lot of my friends do it. I asked ‘What can I do to improve?” and they told me what they should have done… I had the knowledge of their knowledge.”

The group describes itself as tight-knit and extremely close. For the group, understanding other members is key to putting on a successful performance. Flagstaff, Ariz., junior Lauren Roe said it’s important to observe her group members when acting.

“If you’re not listening, it can get hijacked plot-wise, and then you’re taking away from everyone else,” Roe said. “You have a dead scene.”

The group also has events planned for Oct. 18 and 19, as well as Nov. 15 and 16.

“It’s a lot about the energy in the room. The more people go, the more energy there is, the better the show,” McAughan said.