“Things look swell. Things look great. Gonna have the whole world on a plate.” No, Gypsy Rose Lee isn’t appearing just yet. But Paul VI Catholic High School is “starting here, starting now” to expand their drama department, beginning with two new programs: Theater Sports and International Thespian Society.
The union of games, theater, and competition seemed like a perfect match to junior Dan Mayo. “I wanted to bring our theater troupe to a competitive level, so I started a branch of Theater Sports at PVI.”
“Improvisation not only helps improve theater skills, it also challenges creativity and requires quick thinking on stage.” Mayo said.
According to Mayo, such theater games began in the mid-1500s with groups of roving comic performers. In the 1920s a recreation director created similar games as a way of introducing children to theater in inner city Chicago. Mayo believes that this idea was expounded upon to become the basis of formalized television competition in the hit game show, “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
The Theater Sport troupes members vary from week to week, but there is a core competition group of seven to eight performers, including, the club's unofficial vice president, junior Kirk Jeter.
“It’s a great way for the Players to release extra energy and hone our ability to deal with possible problem that can come up during a show, such as another actor forgetting a line,” said Jeter, as he describes a typical Theater Sport activity, “World’s Worst.”
“The audience will give the Player a variable such as ‘the world’s worst cook’ then, the actor must perform in that role.” Without missing a beat, Jeter, a gifted mimic, begins his dead-on impersonation of Mike Tyson announcing, “Today, we’ll be making a little dish I like to call ‘Ear-e-os’. . .”
Pausing only momentarily, Jeter continues, “Or another variable might be ‘world’s worst taxi-driver’. I like that one.” He said as he begins his impersonation of Stevie Wonder picking up a fare.
Recognizing those Players who have achieved a certain level of theatrical experience is the main goal of the International Thespian Society. I.T.S is an honor society for high school students who have participated in an exceptional amount of theater.
This writer, a sophomore, wanted Paul VI to participate in I.T.S, and with the support of drama director, Sue Hughson, the program is being initiated this year. Presently, over nine students are eligible for the honor of induction, which is determined based on a point system. Points are given for work either as an actor or tech support.
The arrival of I.T.S has generated excitement among the theater students by giving them a broader perspective on their theater careers. “I think it’s great that I.T.S has come to PVI. It gives actors an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than just the local high school theater community,” said Lauren Walter, a sophomore.
Everything seems to be coming up roses for the Paul VI theater department. In the opinion of drama director, Hughson: “Paul VI is on a fast track with its theater arts program. Joining the Cappies last year has spurred the interest and attention of the students of PVI who want to further their theatrical experiences to include membership in the International Thespian Society. Hopefully this will pave the way for a bright future for the artists here.”