The hard work of Burlingame Improvisation and Theater Enthusiasts (BITE) culminated in two performances on Thursday, April 20th and Friday, April 21st. This year, the club metamorphosed into a full-fledged competitive team, complete with a coach and an eager attitude. As these two performances were the first of many to come, they mark a special milestone in the evolution of the club-turned-team.
Sophomore member Suzanna Longworth reflected on how Improv club was scattered and disorganized in the previous year, yet through weekly meetings held this year, the performers have developed both dedication and skill. The specific focuses of each meeting range from making one’s character portrayal realistic to space-object work, a term used to describe the use of gestures to suggest the presence of imaginary objects.
“It can’t just be mindless humor,” Viva Freedman, co-president of BITE, said. She pointed to the repeated practice of creating characters, a relationship, an objective, and a “where” (CROW) as a process to improve acting abilities. Freedman used the example of an actor pretending to have the tentacles of an octopus, flying through space. She stated that, while a galactic cephalopod is entertaining for a second, it needs a plot to drive it home and truly impress onlookers.
Certainly the troupe implemented CROW and other acting techniques in their Thursday show; during the performance, the actors played a number of improvisation games. BITE performed one of Freedman’s favorite games, known as “Here Comes Charlie.” In this skit, actors discuss the traits of a character not present in the scene, until eventually the character is given an opportunity to walk on, and then has to emulate the aforesaid traits.
The show on Friday was comprised of some other improvisation games, as well as good, old-fashioned skits inspired by words from the audience. Both nights, BITE was accompanied by keyboardist David Norfleet.
The latter half of the Friday show was devoted to skits involving pregnancy (a word submitted by an audience-member.) Included was a conversation between sextuplets in the womb, a soon-to-be father’s stint with a baby bump harness to simulate his wife’s pregnancy, and a prenatal yoga class.
To Longworth, the increase of the actors’ comfort on stage was clearly palpable. She attributed it to the growing sense of community within BITE, and above all, a shared love for goofiness.
“You want to have the foundation of the scene before you add in the ridiculous. Well,” Freedman said, “It’s still going to be ridiculous anyway.”