Improvising their way to the top
Next week, the IMPers, a group of talented Martha's Vineyard Regional High School students who worked their way up through the improv ranks by participating in grade school and middle school programs and attending summer improv camp, will be headed for the prestigious Chicago Improv Festival. After years of working together, and submitting an audition video, the six-member IMPer team has made it to the country's most elite improvisation event. And how do they plan to get to Chicago? By improvising, of course.
This Saturday the IMPers, along with a few of the original members of the WIMP troupe (the adult improv group originally formed in 1994), will host a fundraising performance at the Grange Hall, following an improv-themed auction and dessert reception.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Guests will have the opportunity to bid on some unique auction items, including services provided by the IMPers such as babysitting, housecleaning, and having a family portrait taken by photographer Ray Ewing. They will also auction off a formal tea party hosted by the teens dressed in formal wear. Some of the most entertaining items being auctioned are opportunities to provide suggestions that form the basis for skits, and the lines of dialogue for a game called "Add-a-line," and the chance to become the subject for "A Day in The Life." Bids will also be collected for "Promo-Coaster," in which IMPers create a commercial for the winner.
Following the reception, the performance will include both long-form and short-form games. Sophomore Vivian Ewing explains: "The main difference is that short form has much more of a structure or a gimmick. Long form is like a completely improvised one-act play." The kids will be joined by three of the founding members of WIMP.
Donna Swift, the director and founder of Troubled Shores, the non-profit theater organization that includes an educational program, as well as the IMPers and four other performance troupes, was one of the original WIMP members. She started teaching improvisation to kids, forming the foundation for the organization Troubled Shores.
Some of Ms. Swift's former students are members of the Newly Resurrected WIMP, as the graduates refer to themselves, and they often appear alongside the IMPers during their summer performances.
Ms. Swift emphasizes the concept of "the group mind." Ms. Ewing describes it as, "the connection that we all build together."
Says sophomore Sarah Swift, "You can jump out on stage and do something that you wouldn't normally do, and they'll have your back."