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CWRU IMPROVment returns to the stage, IMPROVed and better than ever

Every seat was occupied in the Maltz Black Box. The anticipation in the room was palpable as it approached 9 p.m., and the blinding stage lights in the otherwise dark black box only added to the excitement. Finally, Case Western Reserve University IMPROVment President Lisa O’Brien and Vice President Jasmyn Zeigerson raced into the room to greet their eager audience and kick off the Welcome Back Show. This was their first performance of many to come this semester, held every Saturday in the Maltz Performing Arts Center.

Since this was the first show of the year, the duo explained how improvisation works, what to expect and then introduced the rest of the troupe. Each time a new name was called, a cast member ran out on stage, greeted by loud cheers and applause.

A cheesy smile remained on my face for the entire show, starting with the first game, a silly musical about an object of the audience’s choice. A troupe member ran around the black box asking for suggestions, which had the crowd yelling out various objects, desperate for theirs to be chosen. We finally settled on “baguette,” and the cast immediately started improvising. Their musical performance was a perfect, whimsical start to the show, and “Remy’s gotta go!”—troupe member Ethan Teel’s line in the song—was stuck in my head for the duration of the night.

Perhaps it was excitement over the first performance of the year, or maybe it was just the troupe’s excellent performance, but something about the show was electric that night. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I couldn’t help myself from laughing at their antics. For example, troupe members Malachi Levy and Lauren Iagnemma “fenced to the death” over an onion that ended their marriage. My favorite part of the night was watching fourth-year Alain Kouchica construct a story about why he came late to work for his “employer” Ian Jacobs, aided by his “co-worker friends” Teel and Zeigerson. Together, they crafted a plot where Kouchica had to ride an elephant in the middle of Florida, hitting an invisible wall and being saved by Stanley Tucci, all on his way to work. Only Kouchica had to guess all the parts of his story from Teel and Zeigerson’s charades, making the narrative construction all the more hilarious to the audience.

Beyond all of IMPROVment’s silliness, and how much they make me laugh, I have so much admiration for the troupe. Practices are three times a week, and each member’s dedication clearly shows with their creativity and ability to think on the fly. I was struggling to even think of ideas to shout out, so I cannot imagine having to act out all of the suggestions, all the while remaining humorous. Even so, everyone seemed to be having so much fun on stage, as if they were truly in their element and having the best time making jokes with their friends.

If you want to support your peers in the performing arts, or if you just want a much-needed belly laugh after a rough week, stop by the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Saturday for another IMPROVment show! The troupe will be there every week, and every performance is better—and more IMPROVed—than the last.

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About the Contributor
Shejuti Wahed, Social Media Content Creator & Video Editor
Shejuti Wahed (she/her) is a third-year student studying neuroscience and psychology and minoring in bioethics. She loves making videos and writing for The Observer, but you’ll also find her organizing her ultra-specific Spotify playlists, making breakfast food for dinner and giving out hugs to everyone in sight.

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