Thursday, Sept. 24, Festival of Fools, Oklahoma Baptist University’s improv group, performed their first show in Potter Auditorium at Raley Chapel. The show was a “retro revamp,” with all of the troupe members dressed in 80’s clothing for the show.
Festival of Fools is made up of Kaeley Mastin, Bayleigh Platter, Garrett Wheeler, Ethan Wood, Anna Smolen, Larashleigh Wallace, Gabriel Barnes, Justin Glover, Anna Caughlin, Zack Coak and Jacob Brown. Thursday’s show was hosted by the troupe’s co-captains.
“Festival of Fools is the name of the improv troupe on campus. We were founded in 2016 and have been performing ever since,” Brown said. “Many members have come and gone over the years, and the troup keeps evolving with the times! This year we have some special surprises lined up that our Co-Captains, Ethan Wood and Kaeley Mastin, are really excited to show off.”
The group performs both short form and long form improv, eagerly entertaining the crowd in attendance for the troupe’s first performance for an audience this year.
“The Festival of Fools is a teaching improv troupe,” Mastin said. “We are always working at improving our improv skills so that we can better spread laughter and joy! In weekly practices, we strive to be the best improvers we can be.”
There was a large crowd in attendance in Potter Auditorium on Thursday night. Mastin was excited to share the stage with the group and bring some laughs to the OBU community.
“We want the show to be a place where students can come with their friends and have a good time,” she said. “Everything is so crazy right now in the world, and we want to spread some joy on campus.”
It was evident that those at the show enjoyed their time at the show, with the crowd laughing loudly at the scenes and characters. The troupe initially planned on hosting the show outside a week prior but was able to schedule this performance with help from administration, making it an SGA sanctioned event.
“As far as planning, we have faced some challenges so far with finding spaces and days that will work with everything going on,” Mastin said. “However, we have been blessed with help from awesome OBU employees like Melissa Stroud and were so jazzed to perform this week!”
Thursday’s show featured some group games that had the crowd laughing. Mastin and Wood took scene suggestions from the audience, who seemed very excited to be a part of it all, constantly shouting out hilarious suggestions when prompted.
Every group on campus has faced some additional struggles in the wake of the coronavirus, but Festival of Fools is taking precautions to keep each other safe.
“This semester has had some extra challenges, as we have had to look to other venues for performances and take security precautions in order to make sure everyone is as safe as they can be,” Brown said. “We all wear our masks during our rehearsals, which has made us focus a lot more on our projection and enunciation, since the masks get in the way. This has forced some of us, myself included, to focus more distinctly on certain aspects of performing than we may have done before, which has made us grow as actors.”
Festival of Fools have rehearsals that are open to OBU students who are interested in learning more about improv, or even those who just want to watch.
“I love that we have people of all majors and interests. As a troupe, we always want to make people feel welcome, whatever that may look like,” Mastin said.
The group is a close-knit group of performers who are creating a welcoming environment for those who want to try something new.
My favorite thing about the troupe is the way that we are able to work together to create really fun worlds and scenarios, some of which we remember for a long time,” Brown said. “The way we bounce off of each other makes us stretch ourselves and our creative muscles than we would if we took all the responsibility as individuals. We’re able to make much better stuff together!”
The first show of the year was an overwhelming success.
“The show Thursday was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had,” Wood said. “This year is my first as Co-Captain of the troupe, and that’s a pretty nerve-inducing title for me. I was so worried if I was teaching well and properly preparing the troupe, especially since we’d lost half a semester of meetings due to the pandemic.”
The group fed off the positive energy of the crowd, enjoying their time on the Potter stage.
“During and after the show, however, I was so genuinely delighted with how everyone performed,” Wood said. “The energy of the crowd, combined with performing on Potter’s stage and first-show jitters, I think really boosted everyone up. I’m very proud of the troupe, and I’m super stoked for the next show.”