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Improv group gains footing

Students grapple with thinking on their feet

By Kyle Langhurst
On November 2, 2015

An improvisational acting group under direction of Liberal Arts student Chris Hanian is searching for more members in hopes of becoming an approved campus club.

Hanian said it all began when the group’s co-creator, Tyler Bierbaum, Liberal Arts, proposed the idea of starting an improv troupe at Kirkwood. After discussing the idea even further, Hanian said he put out a call list for anyone interested in joining such a club. 

“The process for creating this list was hoping people would find the group interesting and they would sign up. We plan on having it open to anyone who wants to join in the future,” said Hanian. 

To be approved as a Student Life club, the group needs to have at least 12 members. Rick Anderson, associate professor and director of theatre, is the troupe’s advisor. 

Anderson said he has seen improv groups come and go in the past but is hoping some promotion through Student Life will help this group succeed in the future. 

“It would be great to see the group get a performance opening for a speaker, participate in a talent show or perform during Welcome Week,” said Anderson. 

Describing improv as “impromptu scenes and games for entertainment purposes of an audience and friends,” Hanian said, “Improv really comes from just having a good time, talking to people in the group and trying to make each other laugh.”

Anderson said this performance outlet gives actors the ability to “just try something...sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” He added that improv “frees you up” and stops actors from overthinking.

Anderson explained that in a typical improv performance, the acting group “draws characters and a situation and then they go.” Like hitting a play button, the group works together to create a scene by thinking on their feet. To warm up, Anderson said groups use games like telling a story in three lines or duet improv with just two players. 

Hanian also said he is looking forward to other opportunities in the group’s future. “We might have a chance to work with Mount Mercy and its Improv group...I feel like there is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who joins,” Hanian said. 

The group meets Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. in the Theatre Annex on Kirkwood’s main campus, though Hanian said Wednesdays have a greater turnout. Anderson added that anybody is welcome to attend the meetings.

Hanian said the group will also be posting information on bulletin boards around campus. Interested students can contact Hanian at for more information. 

Hanian said, “Students can expect to have a fun time practicing and performing improv in a fun environment that we are hoping to create.”


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