“Yes, and…” is a famous guideline improvisation performers stand by. It not only means that you accept the reality that your fellow performer has created, but it also stresses the importance of including the ideas of everyone involved in a scene. Without these two elements, the performance can’t be successful. Geneseo improv group Currently Known As strives to take this rule to heart, as they are inclusive to all potential members who want to join. Currently Known As is one of two active improvisation groups on campus, and they formed in 2011. The group has accepted all performers—beginner and advanced alike—who merit membership.
The rehearsal process is centered on exercises and improv games that will allow everyone involved to learn and to grow as artists. The group meets every Wednesday and Sunday between 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium. New members, too, are always welcome to join. The group puts on about three shows a semester.
Most recently, they held “Spoopy Murder Mystery,” a murder mystery themed performance on Friday Nov. 4. This festive performance—which came just after Halloween—allowed the audience a considerable amount of interaction. Audience members picked the theme of the story and in this case it was “Under the Sea.” The audience also determined which character would die and who would be the murderer.
That being said, the entire show was improvised, which kept both the performers and the audience on their toes. In each scene, the performers created and established their own characters, ranging from chemistry major junior Rachel Molino’s mermaid ghost to communication major junior Zooey Sorice’s puffer fish.
The plot was intriguing, but also lent itself to many laughs. This was due to the performers’ skills at thinking on their feet and the willingness of everyone in the room to accept the silliness of the characters and storyline.
History major junior Jenna Lawson expressed her joy at the club’s success and growing attendance at their performances. After her freshman year, the club lost many graduating seniors and the remaining members were forced to build the group back up, according to Lawson.
Now, however, the regular meeting times see about 15-20 people and the shows—which are audition only—have a wide range of performers, depending on the theme.
In addition, the group won the annual Rochester Gilda’s Cup last year, which is an annual improv competition that honors the comedic legacy of actress Gilda Radner. The proceeds from the event benefit Gilda’s Club Rochester, a non-profit organization that offers support to people living with cancer.
To the members of Currently Known As, inclusiveness equals success. “Anybody is capable of doing improv and doing it well,” Lawson said. “I think that there are so many different levels within our troupe, and I like that we’ve created this space for all kinds of performers.”