Skip the Script’s Masters of Magic hosted “April Foolin’ Around,” or “All Play” with a Harold performance at 5 p.m. on April 15 in the Southern Miss Woods Theater.
Skip the Script, an improvisation group formed in 2013 under the direction of graduate student Drew Davidson, seeks to “entertain, enrich and expound” through the medium.
“Improv is not just about being ‘funny,’ although it can be,” Davidson said. “Improv is not the illegitimate stepchild of Theatre Proper, although some people think that it is. Improv can be used to sharpen the tools of the actor, but it is an art in and of itself.”
Davidson’s group was inspired by the Second City Training Center in Chicago, a renowned performance school that offers several programs focused on the study crafts, including improvisation, comedy writing, stand-up, clowning, and music improvisation, among others. Classes at the Chicago training center, as well as the other Second City centers throughout the nation, are taught by professionals, many of whom are Second City performers themselves. Notable alumni of the program include Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Stephen Colbert.
In order to join the Skip the Script performance troupe, students must audition. Once cast, they all decide their troupe name. The founding group was called “Skip the Script” and last year’s was the “Hip Hop Doctors.” This year’s troupe is referred to as the “Masters of Magic,” and Friday was their first time doing a long-form improv or “Harold.”
“In Chicago, students study for hours a day for weeks to master this difficult format,” said Davidson. “We only recently started playing with the Harold, and only put in four hours of practice total. This is a testament to the talent of Skip the Script’s Masters of Magic.”
Friday’s performance offered audience members free “fiddle faddle and lemonade” and consisted of two parts. The first was a 30-minute “All-Play,” during which audience members were invited onstage to play various short improv games, including a challenging forward, reverse scene.
Eliza Olson, a freshman international studies major who participated in some of the improv games, enjoyed her time onstage.
“I’ve never been to one of these [shows] before,” she said. “It was great. I loved the games in the beginning and the ending. I loved it all.”
Davidson said he loves when the audience gets involved during the show.
“I always look for opportunities to get the audience involved,” Davidson said. “I don’t like to think of improv as an exhibitionist event, but an event that engages the audience directly. Normally, improv troupes involve the audience by getting suggestions from scenes. I say why not just get them on the stage too? It seemed like the audience had fun playing, and I know I had fun watching them.”
Amoy Cooper, one of the members of the Masters of Magic troupe, added the show had been received very well. She plans to continue taking part in improv shows as long as she is in the program.
“I’m a really shy person, so when I joined the group I felt like I was doing everything wrong,” said Cooper, a freshman journalism and theater double major. “That’s not the case with improv, because with improv anything you say or do can be used in whatever scene you’re doing.”
The Masters of Magic will perform once again this semester in their “End of the Year” show in May.