Improv group PCP embraces theater’s most difficult genre

Ted Hamilton

A town meeting was held in the basement of the Music and Speech Center Tuesday night. The evening’s concern: a lack of women in the area.

The evening also included a rapping prostitute, a poetry reading by Sean Connery and a kidnapper’s slide show of his trip to Russia in search of the pope – all courtesy of PCP.

Rather than a drug, the 30 or so audience members were entertained by Kent State’s improv troupe, the Portage County Players.

PCP presents its sixth performance today at 8 p.m. in Room B005 of the Music and Speech Center.

Improv is a style of theater based around spontaneous performance, sophomore theater major Ruben Ryan said.

Ryan is also the leader of PCP.

Practicing improv is different from other types of theater because it is largely about developing a different way of thinking and learning to develop a “group mind” – knowing where the other actors are going to go next.

Improv is one of the most difficult theater disciplines to master, professor and PCP adviser Charles Richie said.

“It is the equivalent of an acrobat working without a net because it’s an actor working without a script,” he said.

Since the group became official in Fall 2006 it has grown from six to 12 members and meets weekly to practice for two or three hours.

The group has improved greatly in the short time since it was created, Richie said.

“I thought the entire show was really funny,” said Jon Koch, sophomore sports administration major. “I’ve only seen improv on ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?'”

The TV show has done a lot of good and bad for improv, Ryan said. It has made improv more popular, but at the same time people don’t realize performances are two hours and cut down to a half hour for TV.

This makes some people think improv performers have to think fast, Ryan said.

“The worst thing you can do in improv is start thinking,” he said.

Performers who try to think of something funny before speaking usually mess up, he said.

“(Improv) requires spontaneity, creativity and working off of other actors,” Richie said.

Contact honors and international affairs reporter Ted Hamilton at [email protected].