Gabriel Corbin

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — For the first time since its inception, the Winthrop University student improv group is holding its first live shows in front of an audience.

Improv This! was founded by theatre students in 2005 and the group has provided a place on campus for students to get together to laugh at jokes and perform improv.

“This improv show is basically going to be a ragtag group of people playing some improv games. We’re going to take suggestions from the audience and sort of make the show live in front of their faces,” Dani Banks, the president of Improv This!, said. “It’s going to be brand new, totally unrehearsed and new stories being made in front of the audience.”

The live shows, Dec. 2-4 in the Johnson Hall Studio Theatre, feature a cast of current Improv This! members and some alumni performing games and inclusive audience activities.

“Improv is an art form for everybody, we’ve got a little bit of something for everyone,” Banks said. “It’s something that the audience puts into it, because we take suggestions and ask questions that are open-ended, so that the audience sees the show they want.”

Organizers say they hope the shows will draw more attention to the club and attract more students, who may not about the group.

“Improv This! is for everyone, but it’s something that not a lot of people know about because of our late hours,” said Genevieve Mastrangelo, a member of the group.

Improv This! typically meets every Thursday evening from 10:30 p.m. to midnight in Johnson Hall 103.

The idea for a live show originated with last year’s club executive board, but was pushed back because of problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This semester, the group has been rehearsing for weeks to be ready to get on stage and bring improv to a wider campus audience.

“We just started and we’re already putting a lot of work into it,” Mastrangelo said last month.

Club members say they hope the audience will appreciate how every improv show will be original and brand new.

“It’s so refreshing to escape from the real world,” said Lynzi Cooke, an Improv This! member and live show cast member. “Art is a reflection of how we feel and think and how we interpret the world. People visit these shows, even if it is an hour or two that they can spare to see people be silly on stage.”