Improv takes to the stage for debut competition


Second period improv students participate in a music-based exercise (photo by Marin Poleshek).

Marin Poleshek, Managing Editor

Improv comedy will host its first performance in HHS history this Thursday and Friday in the Bailey Theater.

The event is open to the public, although audience space is limited. Improv teacher Amy Marchino encourages all who are available to attend, however. 

“It’s a big deal that we’ve jumped from this beginner class to a show,” she said. “But I want to provide this opportunity for students.”

For both Marchino and her classes, this performance marks a major milestone for the improv program. HHS added the elective this past fall and has since introduced over 60 students to the comedic craft.

“It feels like I’m setting a precedent,” Marchino said. “I want it to be a great experience for my students and the audience.”

Both nights will open with casual exercises, in which all improv students participate. Then, a select team of eight from each class will battle an opposing group in competitive games.

To be considered for the competition team, students were required to place their names on a list earlier this month. Then, each class spent three days playing test games to determine who would be strongest in a performance setting. Marchino explains that evaluations included asking whether students were “loud enough” or “had enough energy” for the stage.

Improv instructor Amy Marchino poses with the competition trophy (photo by Marin Poleshek).

Among the competitive players is senior Sandy Holmes, a student in Marchino’s second period class. As a longtime performer, she was drawn to improv for its emphasis on freedom of expression.

“[Improv] is a break from other kinds of performing,” she said. “I get to be someone else and embody different things.”

For Holmes, the best part of class has been befriending people she otherwise would never have met. Because improv is open to all grades, it provides a unique opportunity for students to interact with people from all across the school.

“It creates a very good environment,” she reflected. “I’ve had to be the most vulnerable… we do things we’ve never done before.”

Next year, Holmes will attend Mississippi State University to study music education. She eventually hopes to teach K-12 choir and believes that improv will prove useful later in life, whether that be in a classroom or casual setting.

“Mrs. Marchino sold me [on improv],” she laughed. “It’s so much fun.”

Senior Ryan Clifton dashes through classmates during an improv exercise (photo by Marin Poleshek).

And ultimately, that is the goal of this week’s performances. Not only will talented students have the opportunity to perform in front of family and friends, but they will also empower others to try the class by demonstrating how fun improv can be.

“I hope it pulls on people who didn’t know they could do it,” Marchino said, adding that she is already preparing for an Improv II class next year.

Holmes agrees, encouraging improv to anyone seeking to get out of their comfort zone. Her best advice is, “just keep it simple, keep it flowing; the funny will spring out.”

The Improv Comedy Show will take place on Thursday and Friday at 7pm. Second and third periods will compete the first night, and fifth and seventh are scheduled for night two. Admission is free and seating is first come first serve.