Giving Theatre a RIP

While for the rest of the world R.I.P. stands for the morbid “Rest In Peace,” here at Rollins, it stands for fun, laughter, and a group known as the Rollins Improv Players: a troupe of 16 students who come together to perform improvised shows two to three times a month. These shows often focus on awkward topics, such as the first week as a college freshman, making transitions in life and school easier to discuss.

The troupe was founded seven years ago by RIP Faculty Advisor and Artistic Director Dr. David Charles and it has continued and grown over the years. “There would be an uproar if I did try to end the club; the students wouldn’t allow it,” Charles said.

Capping the number of players at 16 gives RIP a family feel and allows the players to trust each other in the many scenarios thrown their way. The 16 players rotate, with only eight performing at a time while the other eight manage lights, sound, and anything else that may be needed. The close-knit group works together on every aspect of the show to ensure it runs successfully.

Unlike the popular TV series Whose Line is it Anyway, where a buzzer goes off to relieve the players after three minutes, RIP most often performs long-form shows. For example, one of RIP’s signature forms, Variations on a Theme, does contain a number of short scenes, but revisits the established characters and storylines throughout.

The audience ends up watching multiple distinct plays develop, which all are all inspired by audience suggestions around a specific theme.

With this blend of different scenarios, the audience experiences a variety of emotions. In last Friday’s show, these ranged from hysterical laughter during an interpretation of a number from Fiddler on the Roof as performed by Colby Loetz ’11 and Lyndsey Goode ’12 to sympathy for a character, played by Amanda Leakey ’11, dealing with her divorced parents.

If you are interested in exploring the world of improvisation from the stage, look into taking Improv I. RIP Invitational and auditions for next year’s troupe will be in the spring and are open to students across campus, regardless of their course of study. In fact, surprisingly, about one-third of the current RIP members are not theatre majors. For now, keep an eye out for flyers and join “Rollins Improv Players… The Everyone Version” on Facebook to stay updated on what RIP is doing. The next show is another of RIP’s signature forms called “Cut-To” and will take place Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 11 p.m. in the Fred Stone Theatre.

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