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The City Journals

Be creative, goofy this holiday season with Cottonwood High improvisation team

Nov 20, 2017 08:00AM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood High School Theatre Society Improv Team will present family-friendly, fun, live entertainment this holiday season. (Adam Wilkins/Cottonwood High)

Be prepared to laugh and be involved with live theater; the Cottonwood High Theatre Society Improv Team will offer a fun, family-friendly show this holiday season.

The 90-minute show will be at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 15 in the Black Box Theatre at the high school, 5715 South 1300 East, Murray. Tickets are $4 at the door.

“It’s live raw theater in its purest form,” theater director Adam Wilkins said. “Students are given scenarios on the spot from the audience and they act out these funny, hilarious scenes. They use their imaginations and create these amazing, goofy scenes on the fly. Audience members may give them a setting, such as a dentist’s office, or a thing, like a Muppet, and these kids put it all together. With the holiday season upon us, it could be a topic of ‘holiday shopping with Grandma,’ but it won’t be anything you’ve ever seen before.”

Wilkins said that with training and running through improvisation games, the students are prepared to entertain the audience — and even make them a judge.

“The no. 1 rule is for them to say ‘yes, and… . We always have them agree and never say no to an audience. It gives it more creativity and fun. In a technology-driven society, it’s a rare gift to have live entertainment and one that is interactive. It’s a good way for these students to connect with their audience,” he said.

Cottonwood’s improvisation team is in its 10th year. Wilkins started the team when he was hired at the school, which he says is a “great acting tool.” He also started an improv team at Utah State University’s eastern campus in Price, Utah after performing on his high school improv team. 

“It’s a cool way for students to get involved in a student-run organization. It also gives our students an opportunity to be funny, which can be hard. Sometimes, our society and everyone can take things so seriously; it’s a challenge. It’s especially hard for those who need to have a script, so this gives them an opportunity to break out of their shell. It’s kind of like jazz — you freelance, just create and don’t know what to expect. It’s freedom and creativity and just fun from the heart,” he said.

In addition to creativity, students also learn teamwork and acceptance of others’ ideas. Wilkins also said that students learn how to listen and how to take risks, audition and perform humor without a script.

The 18-member auditioned team puts on about six shows annually, usually every other month. Scheduled shows in 2018 include Feb. 8 and May 21. Wilkins said they are not all theater students.

“The more we can bring in from other parts of the school, the better our community is,” he said. “The arts are valuable and essential for any and all our students.”