Typically, Mama Bird gathers her children together for a round of Bibbety Bibbety Bop before getting down to real business. In other words, junior Heather Southern leads the rest of her improv troupe through warm ups at the start of every meeting.
This is Currently Known As, the improvisational theater group started by Southern and senior Dan Hart last semester. Both Southern - or as her troupe knows her, Mama Bird - and Hart - Papa Bear - have been improv players since high school. The group they started as something to do became what Southern refers to as "our monster."
This monster looks like a lot of fun. Players meet and go through concentration and word association warm-ups to relax and then engage in games such as Emotional Boundaries, where a room is divided into areas labeled with emotions such as "happy" and "sad." Players move through each area and adopt the corresponding emotion while maintaining a previously chosen character.
"You've got to be able to be mentally on your toes [and] physically on your toes," said Southern. "The biggest thing is, you've got to listen to your scene partners and have a sort of chemistry with them."
This seems to be the most important component of improv - building a sense of community that brings everyone involved to a higher plane of skill. Southern says it is a great way to make close friends.
The rules of improv are simple: make your partner look good, say yes to whatever is thrown your way and make the scene everything it can be. And the potential seems endless. "If your scene requires you to be a woman giving birth, then you are that woman giving birth," said Southern.
Currently Known As is more than just a way to have fun and meet people. "Improv is like a continuous learning cycle," Southern said. And through this cycle, members learn a lot about themselves - a process that she said can be therapeutic.
"If you're on the fence," said Southern, "come check us out. You've got nothing to lose; just something to gain."
The troupe does not audition but welcomes anyone from seasoned veterans to those who have never heard of improv until this article. If you are interested, Currently Known As meets in the Brodie Commons on Sundays from 8 - 10 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 - 11 p.m.
If you are more of a viewer than a doer, keep an eye out for the group's first campus show, which Southern said should be coming in November.