Funny, Unscripted

 

 

Die Laughing provides opportunity to share improv theatre throughout Tulsa

Tulsa Community College has a new gig in town. It is unscripted, unexpected and unbelievably funny to watch. So funny, in fact, that you really have to see it to believe it.

If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” then you know how improv theatre works. People enter a scene with a few basic ideas about what is happening, and then they let the funny fly.

Die Laughing is a new improv troupe at TCC comprised of students and community members who want to educate others, especially school-aged children, about live theatre. Mark Frank, Professor and Coordinator of the Theatre Program, started the troupe to get people excited about the art of theatre and the TCC Theatre Program.

“It is really a good tool to build our program and build our audience,” he said. “Plus, it’s really good for the Tulsa community. There are a lot of comedians in Tulsa, and this is another venue for people to explore their brave side.”

Tulsa Community College has a new gig in town. It is unscripted, unexpected and unbelievably funny to watch. So funny, in fact, that you really have to see it to believe it.

If you’ve ever watched “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” then you know how improv theatre works. People enter a scene with a few basic ideas about what is happening, and then they let the funny fly.

Die Laughing is a new improv troupe at TCC comprised of students and community members who want to educate others, especially school-aged children, about live theatre. Mark Frank, Professor and Coordinator of the Theatre Program, started the troupe to get people excited about the art of theatre and the TCC Theatre Program.

“It is really a good tool to build our program and build our audience,” he said. “Plus, it’s really good for the Tulsa community. There are a lot of comedians in Tulsa, and this is another venue for people to explore their brave side.”

Sloopy McCoy, TCC student and aspiring actor and filmmaker, is one of the players of Die Laughing. She said she likes the idea of exposing audiences to theatre. She is particularly looking forward to performing for elementary, middle and high school students because she went to a high school that didn’t have a drama program.

“There weren’t a lot of resources,” she said. “I appreciate and respect somebody (Mark Frank) who wants to contribute to the love of theatre and love of performing for children and high school students.”

She remembers begging a teacher once to let her and her friends perform a small play. They performed “Drop Dead Juliet” in which McCoy played the lead role. Since high school, she has performed in community theatre in and around the Tulsa area and has been involved in other improv groups.

McCoy said she likes improv because it helps her, as an actor, keep cool under pressure when onstage.

TCC freshman David Watson auditioned for Die Laughing after he learned about the opportunity in his Acting 1 class. He said doing improv gives him skills he can use to “loosen up” when he is on stage performing a scripted piece.

“I’m not rigid when I’m doing improv,” he said. “I’m more open to whatever is going on in the scene.”

Being open is sort of a requirement for improv theatre. Frank said he sets up basic scenes, or games, for the players, but their lines and reactions are spontaneous.

“It’s really on the fly,” Frank said. “It’s kind of a frightening thing. We tell them not to preplan, just say whatever is on the top of your head.”

Watson and McCoy both said their favorite improv game that they play during Die Laughing rehearsals is Hitchhiker. It’s a game in which one person, the driver, leaves the room. While he or she is gone, four to six players are selected to be in the game. The audience randomly assigns characters to the players.

The group of players then leaves the room, and the driver comes in and tells everyone the type of “vehicle” he or she is driving. The vehicle is actually four chairs with two in the front and two in the back, representative of front and back seats.

Picture this: The driver today is McCoy, and she is driving a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa. One by one, characters enter her car and drop clues as to who or what they are. It is McCoy’s job to identify the characters. She successfully guesses each one, including Watson, who is portraying George W. Bush.

“You just have to say the first thing that comes out of your mouth,” Watson said of the experience. “Just play the conflict instead of trying to play funny. That’s where the humor is.”

Experience from playing improv games, such as Hitchhiker, will come in handy as the group starts performing for audiences at schools this spring. Frank said the group may also perform at business events as well as at TCC.

He said the thing he wants people to take away from the performances is that TCC offers a rich, multi-faceted Theatre Program with opportunities to participate in a variety of areas.

“You can walk into the program, work backstage, work in the shop,” he said. “Come have free pizza with the Student Theatre Association on Wednesday nights and learn about how to get involved. There are so many different things that theatre offers to enrich the college experience for any student.”

Auditions for Die Laughing are held each semester. Info: 918-595-7732.

TCC