Performing with restrictions has Improv team thinking on their feet


Calvin Improv

Besides the addition of masks and social distancing, improv performances remain similar to those of last year, pictured here.

The improv team has hosted frequent practices and a few shows this semester, working around the frustrations that pandemic restrictions pose.

Alex Brannen, one of Improv’s co-captains, told Chimes that practices started in late September, as soon as Calvin was ready to start allowing events. The nine-person team practices twice a week with masks on and socially distanced. Other than that, it’s “pretty much business as usual,” said Brannen. 

COVID has negatively affected some aspects of how the team works though. Since Cokes and Clubs was virtual this year, Brannen feels the team recruited fewer students than previous years.

However, the most noticeable impact that COVID has had on the team is the energy of the shows. Jackson Doezema, a member of Calvim Improv, told Chimes, “I feel the biggest difference is definitely the crowd and the energy.” 

For their first show of the year, there was a limit of 44 people in the Recital Hall at the same time and the team did two shows so that more people could come. The second show was held in the chapel and had a larger limit of 120 people. Doezma feels that the energy in the crowd was better in the second show.

Since everyone had to maintain six feet of social distancing at the first show, it was difficult for people to get into the spirit of things. Brannen added that some people he spoke to felt that “it was kinda weird to shout out suggestions and laugh really hard at jokes because you’re sitting by yourself.” 

At the second show, however, housemates and roommates were allowed to sit together which facilitated a more energetic mood.

In addition to these setbacks, a few games had to be cut because they were “the opposite of social distancing,” as Brannen stated. “The physicality in scenes” is affected as well as difficulty in projecting because team members have to wear masks during entire performances.

Still, people are flocking to improv performances. Doezema told Chimes that tickets sold out at both performances this semester. Josh DeVries, a co-caption, also told Chimes that he had to turn his parents away from coming to one of his shows because the tickets were sold out already and COVID capacities wouldn’t allow more people.

Overall, the improv team is optimistic about how things have been going for them during the pandemic. All three improv members interviewed felt that the relationships of the group have not been affected and the group is as tight as ever. And although they are unsure of when, Calvin Improv hopes to have one more show before the end of in-person classes this semester.