It's okay to be "Scared Scriptless"
as long as you make them SNICKER

By: Katrina R.
St. Stephen High School
St. Stephen, New Brunswick

A retirement home, x-ray glasses, and a hypnotist... what do they have in common? Nothing. But with a little creativity and fast thinking, an unwritten script quickly comes together; this is improvisation.

Drew Carey's "Who's Line Is It Anyway?"

Thanks to the media's recent popularization of improv with tv shows like Drew Carey's "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" on ABC, it's now an extra-curricular activity at SSHS. Under the direction of Neil Grant (a former Mount Allison SUSHI improvist himself), a group of about 20 students form the school's improv team known as S.N.I.C.K.E.R. (St. Stephen Neanderthal Improv Club Kan't Even Right).

The team first started last year with mostly grade 11 and 12 participants. This year however, all four grade levels are actively involved. They have met daily during their noon hours for the past few months.

They've held workshops every Monday-Thursday at which they rehearsed different games and skits, constructively breaking them down. They then performed these skits for the student body every Friday.

Two of the more popular skits include "SuperHeroes", where five improvists are spontaneously given super hero identities while trying to solve an outrageous world crisis, and "Sentences in Pockets", a great crowd pleaser that involves outlandish sentences in the improvist's pocket which they read and incorporate into their scene.

Other skits include: Foreign Film Dub, Specialist Interview, Three-headed Opera Singer, Hands, Freeze, and more. All are a hilarious success.

The open improv performances aren't solely for the school's benefit. They helped prepare the seven members of the St. Stephen High team (Andrew Goulding, Keith Chaffey, Terry Richardson, Drew Hayman, Lynn Mosher, Brandi Gullison, and Katrina Reid) for the first-ever New Brunswick improv competition. "Scared Scriptless" was held in Moncton from February 18-20, offering the St. Stephen team a chance to compete against eight other teams from across N.B.

The competition itself included the eight teams battling each other for rankings during two Preliminary Rounds, the Semi-Finals, and then followed by a televised broadcast of the finals at Late Night At The Empress. The teams will be judged according to set improv criteria. They must improvise four of the five possible categories as chosen by the referees with suggestions from their audience.

The five categories include: Life (the more serious of the five categories emphasizing acting); Theme ( ie. 'vacations' which must be demonstrated clearly throughout the scene); Style (ie. improvising a scene in the form of a Harlequin Romance novel); Character (definite portrayal of a specific character trait), and Story (a scene with a complete story improvised from beginning to end). All are performed in proper sequence during an allotted time slot.

The winner of the Scared Scriptless Competition will be eligible to compete in the Nationals to be held in Ottawa later this April. Break a leg SSHS and make them laugh, or rather, SNICKER.