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The Glen Bard

The Glen Bard

“That One(Improv) Group”: On the Comeback

Photo provided by Mr. Biede.

Conversation, cracking jokes, and reading social cues are a part of everyday activity. Everyone does it, mostly without direct acknowledgement or realization. But, what if we could do it in a formalized club, here at Glenbard West? TOG, short for “that one group,” specializes in this skill, which is known as improv, short for improvisation.

Led by senior captains Jackie Houghtaling, Francesca Nicastro, and Olivia Pauer; and sponsored by Micheal Biede; TOG has been in season for five weeks, as of March 8. They meet on Fridays, after school until around 5 p.m.

This practice schedule was ongoing for 20 years, since the club was created and launched at Glenbard West in the 1990s. However, COVID-19 put a harsh halt to the smooth system developed over time and TOG, like many other aspects of life during the pandemic, had to take a hiatus. Last year, the current captains all worked with Mr. Biede in relaunching what Ms. Nicastro describes as the “new and improved TOG.”

After a season of hard work, and despite the tricky circumstances that could accompany a reboot, the performances defeated the odds and proved to be a phenomenal success!

They had two shows: one welcome to the staff of Glenbard West, and one open to the general public, respectively. The first performance“filled the house, and it was awesome” said Ms.Nicastro.

They hope to shoot even further this year, and instead of just one general public performance, a hope to add another show is in the works for a “full-on weekends worth of stuff” exclaimed Mr.Biede. But, Biede describes how Improv groups can take on a unique twist that other acting branches don’t necessarily dip into.

High school Improv groups can compete against each other, which is a goal Biede and the captains have their eyes set on for TOG. “[Biede’s] secret plan is to begin competitions.”

To reach this goal, they aim to reach a level of consistency in performance through working thoroughly and extensively in their allocated practice times. Practice does make perfect, after all. Especially considering the shows mimic the practices to a very close tee, but the real deal is “just more organized” explained Olivia Pauer.

The major chunk that the performances and practices have similar games that they play. While I will not spoil too much, a game example would be called “Taxi Driver.” It is composed of a group of chairs in front of the audience, with one consistent performer sitting in the “driver’s seat.” The driver is the only one who stays throughout the entirety of the chaos, with random and different characters coming in and joining the scene by ‘calling’ the taxi, and then wrapping up their brief role and leaving the scene by arriving at their destination.

A few other games proceed as well, similar to the dynamic as this one, but the only other similarity the performances and practices share is the necessity of a warm-up. The actual show kicks off with what is known as a cold-open. This is a written skit, which is very different in comparison to the rest of the show, but more or less helps the audience get the right tone for what the show represents.

While dates are not completely finalized, I would recommend to keep ears and eyes open around Glenbard West for the news of the upcoming TOG shows! The members of the club are very excited for this second go-round, and idealize for an even larger crowd than last time. Ms. Houghtaling says how “it would be so much more fun to perform for even more people.” This unique take on acting and humor will keep you attentive and on your toes for the entirety of the experience.

Edit: TOG performs May 8 at 7pm, in the blackbox theater.

Photo provided by Mr. Biede.
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