Student Organization Spotlight: HU Improv

HU Improv serves as a judgement free zone for self expression for all levels of acting.

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Student Organization Spotlight: HU Improv

Luke Englin

Luke Englin

Luke Englin

Gloria Lee, Reporter

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The newly launched HU Improv group is an alternative way to practice the performing arts without the pressure of memorizing lines or impending stage fright. President and founder Gabriel Findley ‘23, explains his reasons behind starting an improv student organization, the group’s goals, and why anyone, even those with no performance experience, should join.

Findley had cultivated a passion for performance since high school.

“I did a lot of theater and … would always play improv games as either warmups or rehearsals,” Findley said.

Findley also cited the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and famous improvisational actors including Wayne Brady and Jim Carrey as significant inspirations.

The Mask [starring Jim Carrey] has always been a reason why I loved acting.”

After high school, Findley came to Hamline with ample acting experience and a desire to further it at a post-secondary level. However, due to being a first-year, Findley struggled finding enough options to participate in theater arts.

“I had to wait a long time to do a performance or audition for a play, [and] the other theater club [I had an interest in didn’t] start until January,” Findley said.

As a result, Findley took matters into his own hands and started his own improv group.

“With improv, you don’t have any lines, it’s off the top of your head, like freestyling,” Findley said.  “You’re not really judged [because] you can’t mess up.”

So far, HU Improv has had a couple of meetings that consisted of playing games such as Heads Up! and Cards Against Humanity. Findley hopes to develop a more organized meeting structure, starting with icebreakers, then warm-up games and finishing with ad-libbed scene practice. Besides meetings, he also aims to further the impact of improv through hosting bigger events.

“I was thinking of doing comedy night where anybody can come up and do improv [based on chosen] scenarios from a hat,” Findley said.

Furthermore, Findley emphasized that improv is not only a way to improve acting skills, but also an environment that allows people to express themselves freely.

“There’s been times where I’ve made stupid mistakes in improv but no one judges…It’s a fun activity to get you social and [make] friends on and off-campus…You learn how to be a fast thinker, and it opens up more opportunities.”

Ultimately, Findley believes those who are not theatrically inclined should still try improv. Findley recounted how during the first meeting, his RA participated in the game ‘Bus Stop’, in which participants sit next to each other as if they’re waiting for the bus and extemporize an awkward conversation.

“She did really [well]. [It shows] that even if you try it the first time, you don’t even know how good you are,” Findley said.

However, if there are still people hesitant with giving improv a go, Findley reassures all are welcome.

“Anyone can still come just to watch. We’re not forcing you [to do something you’re uncomfortable with],” Findley said.

HU Improv currently meets on Wednesday evenings, 6-7:30 p.m. in Drew Conference Room on the first floor. If you want to know more, contact huimprov@hamline.edu.

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