Festival of Fools to host first improv show of the semester

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

OBU’s incredibly popular improv troupe is back for another semester of shows.

Festival of Fools will host its first performance of the Spring 2019 semester 7:30 p.m. March 2 in Craig-Dorland Theatre. Tickets are $2 per person.

Like each improv performance on campus, this performance will have a theme.

“We always have a different theme for each show,” senior secondary English education major and PR coordinator for Festival of Fools Ashley Hontz said. “For this show it is ‘goats in pajamas.’ We will all be wearing pajamas and we encourage everyone else to as well.”

All the members of Festival of Fools have a say in choosing the theme.

“Usually, we do it democratically,” sophomore theatre major Garrett Wheeler said. “We will come up with a list of possible theme ideas and then we’ll put it into a vote. Whichever theme gets the most votes is what we will do for our next show. Other than that, themes also depend on the holidays.”

The ‘goats in pajamas’ theme choice was influenced by a prior show theme.

“My fellow fool Ashley Hontz mentioned that this was the theme for a show during her freshman year,” Wheeler said. “We already came up with the pajama idea, so she wanted to bring the goats in pajamas theme back. We all liked the idea, so now our pajamas have goats in them!”

The theme influences several aspects of each improv performance.

“We will fashion what we wear and what our space looks like depending on the theme,” Wheeler said. “There are some instances where we will play certain games because of the theme. For example, for our Halloween shows, we played the fan favorite Death Pendulum, because the game involves characters dying in random ways, which is a very Halloween thing to portray.”

Improv is an abbreviation of improvisation, and these games make up the only preplanned basis of an improv performance.

“What makes us different is that we don’t have a script or sheet music to guide our performances,” Hontz said. “What guides us is the structure of the games that we play and the suggestions given to us from the audience. Everything else is completely made up from the top of our head.”

Audience members should expect to be asked questions throughout the show.

“We will ask the audience for something, whether it be an occupation, a location, an item, a word, etc., and then we will create a scene with what we’ve been given,” Wheeler said.

The audiences interaction and the immediate nature of the shows is part of what makes it challenging for performers.

“Honestly, creating scenarios on the spot is a challenge itself,” Wheeler said. “It’s a lot harder than one might think. It involves a lot of quick thinking, as well as teamwork from your scene partners.”

The difficult nature of such quick thinking means that not everything tried in an improv show is a success.

“Because of all the trust required and the fact that we don’t know what’s happening until we do it, not all of our scenes work out,” Wheeler said. “In fact, there have been some scenes and games that I’ve played where it devolves into a train wreck. However, if it works, it works very well, and it makes for some of the funniest scenes and games I’ve ever seen.”

All the teamwork helps the members of Festival of Fools bond.

“I get to be around some really great friends, and we all get to laugh and act ridiculous together,” Wheeler said.

The challenges of improv strengthen the performers’ ability to think on their feet.

“I think it stretches me as an actor,” Wheeler said. “Getting to play these weird characters helps me when it comes to playing other characters in plays, and because improv involves a lot of quick thinking, it gives me an opportunity to be prepared to try something new in shows, as well as cover in a natural way in case things go wrong.”

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