The California Lutheran University Improv Troupe welcomed back some familiar faces on April 9 during the annual Alumni Night Improv Show.
Alongside the nine current troupe members were former members and Cal Lutheran alumni Ryan Capriccio, Bryana Gable, Jeremy Hanna, Stephen Wardle and Rafael Padilla.
“I always like [being back]. I love Cal Lu and I love seeing my classmates and Josh Summers and all them, so it’s nice,” Padilla said.
The show opened with the current members performing a game called Freeze Tag and getting heckled by what sounded like members of the audience but turned out to be the alumni. They made their way to the stage and joined the game, finishing the cold open.
Wardle was excited to be back and performing. He said he loves improv because “improv’s just always been a place where you can kind of just do.”
Improv is a type of performing art that requires little advance preparation. Everything the performers say and do onstage is made up in the moment. This includes any and all storylines and one-liners told during the show.
“There are certain moments where you get the same energy as doing a really well-rehearsed play. There are certain scenes where everything lines up, and when that happens you just feel so good and it’s without all the work of doing a play,” Wardle said. “Those are the moments that you always strive for, where everything syncs together.”
Improv coach Lisa Fredrickson gave the expanded group members individual numbers before the show. The numbers were called out to select a series of prompts, games and scenes to perform throughout the night.
“It was probably the best part, when everything comes together and it feels like you’ve done something that’s well-rehearsed and you’re telling the story, but you just made it up on the spot,” Wardle said.
Having the alumni show is beneficial for the current members and former members alike. The current members get to see how improv is carried out beyond Cal Lutheran and after graduation, while the alumni get to enjoy being back at their alma mater.
“I think an important thing too… is to check on people and sort of to reassure the seniors who are about to graduate that it’s not so terrifying making that transition,” Wardle said.
Padilla joked that the transition is actually quite terrifying, but after he also agreed with Wardle on the importance of making that transition.
“Coming upon my senior year, it’s time for me to leave, so I understand the point of the alumni show as well as moving on to bigger and better things,” said Summers, current member of the Cal Lutheran Improv Troupe.
Wardle said it’s a strange feeling being back on campus after graduating two years earlier. He remembered a time when Ullman Commons was the site of the Student Union building.
“There’s stuff that’s just different. It’s the same but different. It’s kind of a surreal dream where you’re in a space that’s familiar but it’s slightly different,” Wardle said.
Overall, both current and former troupe members agreed that Cal Lutheran will always be the place they can call home, a place that even after graduation they can still return to.
“It’s always fun coming back to my alma mater, no matter what,” Padilla said.
“It’s good to be back. It still feels very comfortable. It feels like home,” Wardle said.
The Cal Lutheran Improv Troupe performs every other Thursday night at 11 p.m. in the Preus-Brandt Forum. The next show is April 23.
Published April 15th, 2015