Showcase: Xavier improvisational comedy

By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~

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Aaron Krick (left) and Tyler Ferrari (right) perform in the 2013 winter Toolbox.

Xavier’s Department of Music and Theatre provides different opportunities for students in the
realms of performance, stage management, technical work and theatrical design. There are dramatic, musical and comedic shows produced by the department both for theatre and non-theatre major students.
In the wake of Xavier’s fall show “The Last Five Years” and its next main-stage show “Godspell,” there are plenty of different theater subgroups on campus for individuals to see, particularly in the world of Xavier improv.

Aside from the entirely student run theater group, Xavier Players, the improv groups at Xavier are the largest voices in student-organized theater on campus to date.

These groups include the improvisational troupe Don’t Tell Anna (DTA) and the improvisational group Toolbox.

As described by Toolbox co-president Eric Minion, Toolbox is currently a subgroup of Players and is moving in a more independent direction. Minion describes a very ambitious future for Toolbox, moving away from short-form comedy into a more dynamic, long form of improv, telling a more expansive story and pushing the art of improvisation to its limits.

Player’s president Kyle Daniels praises Toolbox for its innovativetake on interaction with the audience.

Daniels recalls a Toolbox performance last semester where the group took the audience prompt of “Unarrested Development” and turned it into a high stakes thriller of a husband and wife escaping the pursuit of two skilled FBI agents. This is just one example of the long-form storytelling Toolbox strives to create.

In this regard, Minion does not plan on moving away from short-form improv entirely. He hopes to collaborate with DTA in the future as he finds its work “fantastic.”

DTA is one of the university’s improv troupes, made up of eight student members. The major differences between the two groups are found mostly in style of humor as well as the different directions the groups take during a performance.

As far as improv goes at Xavier, “it is definitely moving in a more dynamic direction,” but there is a “ton of room for expansion,” Minion said.

He believes there is a lot of talent in the student body that is being overlooked or wasted due
to the fact that Toolbox and DTA are the only two available clubs on campus offering opportunities to perform this distinct style of theater.

While classes are offered, the options are slim. The only improv- centered classes currently
being offered are Theatre 160: “Improvisation” and Theatre 220: “Improvisation for the Actor.” These classes are offered through the Department of Music and Theatre as electives.
Minion highly recommends the book “Truth in Comedy” by Charna Halpern, Del Close and
Kim Johnson for those interested in learning about improv. Be on the lookout for DTA
shows in the near future and for Toolbox performances no later than December.