SO, this month my youth theatre, Activ8, decided to perform an improvised show. We were split into groups of three or four, given a game to play, and then left to the mercy of the audience.
It was nerve-wracking, which was evident from the amount we chattered during our practice before the show.
However, we quickly shut up when one of our group leaders declared that we made her want to injure us.
We were not alone in the endeavour; a few members of a group called Snatch Comedy (who improvise shows for a living, incredibly) lent a hand.
If I’m honest, we spent our free hour before the show in the little kitchen in our studio, eating food still left over from Christmas, playing card games, and being so loud that we could probably be heard from the stage upstairs.
When we were finally ushered upstairs, we were given two rules: don’t swear, and don’t stir trouble by bringing up controversial topics. Improv’ has this weird tendency to unearth the darkest corners of your mind and urge you to say something quite, er, regrettable.
Each of us had two games to play. I was tasked with interviewing The Oracle, which was an all-knowing being comprised of three of my friends.
They had to answer, as coherently as possible, my questions. I was blown away by the vast knowledge The Oracle possessed.
“Why do dogs smell worse after being out in the rain?” I asked.
“Dogs. Smell. Worse. In. The. Wet. Rain. Because. They. Get. Damp,” The Oracle replied, seemingly bewildered by my lack of general knowledge.
My second game involved four of us sitting at the front of the stage and playing therapists.
It was our job to give advice to the troubled audience, though the quality of the advice differed greatly from person to person; there was good advice, bad advice, horrendous advice, and then advice on a subject completely unrelated to the problem the audience member had mentioned (this entailed quite the thrilling story about a duck).
Some amazing situations arose.
One group stemmed the flow of some rapid lava, with nothing but a hairdryer, a pencil sharpener, and a rubber duck. Another washed an imaginary car, while constantly switching emotions. (“Don’t you just love washing the car??; I can’t BELIEVE you got crumbs all over the seats again!”).
By the time the show had ended, both we and the audience were one, big, giggling mess.
Getting up on stage equipped only with a vague idea of what was going to happen left me with a unique sense of achievement that a scripted play couldn’t give.
Honestly? The unscripted parts of life do the same thing.
Ellie Menton is 16 and attends Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Cork.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved