By Tricia Duke ‘19
Members of the Knox College Improv Club recently showed off their skills in improvised acting while raising money for charity.
The club's "improv-a-thon" consisted of 24 separate, hour-long themed segments. Throughout the night and day, the improvisers participated in creative challenges as a fundraiser.
This year, these efforts raised $250 for Chab Dai, an organization based in Cambodia that combats sex trafficking and sexual violence around the world. This is the second major fundraising partnership between Knox students and Chab Dai this academic year.
Junior Jaki Herrmann, Improv Club vice president, said the club was inspired to donate to Chab Dai by the recent efforts of another student, sophomore Soko Cheng. Cheng, a mutual friend of many club members, dedicated an independent study project to raising more than $900 for Chab Dai.
To further partner with the organization, Knox Improvisers volunteered for creative fundraising challenges.
"The lemons were probably the most fun," said first-year Matt Cagle, referring to the challenge in which an improviser would eat a lemon for a $3 donation. "However, I think people had fun with the water squirter, too." For $2, any audience member could squirt the improvisers with water anytime someone asked a question.
Herrmann said that 24-Hour Improv represents in one event what she sees as Improv Club's biggest strength: its diversity of thought. The Knox Improv Club is an open, non-audition group with between 20 and 30 members who attend regularly. Herrmann, an anthropology and sociology major, reported that 11 academic majors are represented on the club's executive board.
"Because we've gotten so big and have so many different backgrounds, our improvisers are really good with improvising with pretty much anyone," said Herrmann.
The segments of the improv-a-thon event revealed the influence of various majors. Sophomore Katherine Asteriadou, a theatre major, led "ShakesProv," an hour dedicated to games related to Shakespeare. In "JazzProv," led by jazz percussionist and sophomore Liam Wholihan, improvisers relied on rhythm and physicality to perform wordless scenes while Wholihan and guitarist Amir Maharjan '19 played improvised jazz.
Psychology and music double-major Alex Kellogg '19 said that they particularly enjoyed "PsychProv," in part because some of the games lent themselves toward more dramatic scenes, and Kellogg also has an interest in theatre.
"My favorite part was a game called ‘How do you feel about that?' in which two improvisers performed a scene and had to reveal their feelings whenever an audience member asked, ‘How do you feel about that?'" said Kellogg.
Kellogg went on to say that improv has provided skills for many other academic and professional areas.
"Doing improv has improved my ability to give presentations, hold conversations, and focus. All of these are tremendously important for anyone hoping to be a successful student and person," Kellogg said.
First-year Erin Jin agreed that the interaction with the varying people in improv made the club special.
"I've met some amazing people while doing Improv," Jin said. "The fact that we were able to have fun on stage AND raise money for a good cause was amazing."