Warwick Improv Club puts creativity to test with annual performance

  • The 15 students in Warwick Community School’s Improv Club gave a demonstration under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The 15 students in Warwick Community School’s Improv Club gave a demonstration under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The 15 students in Warwick Community School’s Improv Club gave a demonstration under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The 15 students in Warwick Community School’s Improv Club gave a demonstration under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

  • The 15 students in Warwick Community School’s Improv Club gave a demonstration under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co., at Warwick Town Hall on Tuesday. Staff Photo/ZACK DeLUCA

Staff Writer
Published: 2/20/2020 6:16:26 PM

WARWICK — Warwick Community School students let their imaginations run wild on Tuesday, pretending to be animals and creating spontaneous stories during an Improv Club performance at Town Hall.

The 15 students in the school’s Improv Club gave a 30-minute demonstration, sponsored by the Warwick Arts Council, under the direction of Jonathan Mirin, co-founder of Piti Theatre Co. in Shelburne Falls. It was the third year the club has appeared following the Senior Meal. The club is a combination of new third-graders and older students who have participated in Improv Club since its beginnings in 2017.

“I’m not usually one for acting, but it’s a smaller group so it’s fun,” said fifth-grader Cordelia Rhodes.

Cordelia said she has been a member of the club since it started, along with fellow fifth-graders Wyatt Whitman and Audrey Elwood. All three young actors said the Improv Club has helped expand their imagination and boost their confidence, with Audrey adding that the quick thinking has even improved her problem-solving skills.

“I used to get butterflies all the time, but now they’re gone,” Wyatt said.

“That shyness fades away,” Cordelia agreed.

Warwick Community School was in session on Tuesday to make up for snow days, and the entire school walked to Town Hall to sit in the audience and share a laugh. Mirin guided the students through warm-up routines before diving into various exercises.

“We’ll start by having them start to walk around and just be themselves,” Mirin said. “They’re pretty good at that.”

As students moved around the stage, he slowly began to introduce new “rules.” Mirin told students they could only take sharp turns to switch direction, or move faster and faster before suddenly moving in slow motion. He had them pretend to be deer, with students moving on all fours or creating antlers with their hands. Calling to the audience for suggestions, students turned into meditating flamingos and stood on one leg before quickly transforming into fluttering hummingbirds.

For one routine, students created a story on the spot by adding pieces of the improvised tale, sentence by sentence. Mirin pointed to students at random and they slowly created the story of a turtle who ate too many hamburgers. The turtle, according to the students, eventually got a job at a fast food restaurant and wound up eating the entire building.

Students also showed off their quick thinking and creativity by “creating a moment” with a simple prop — a brown scarf. Mirin passed the scarf around to students who, one by one, pretended it was something unique and came up with different short stories. One student turned into Rapunzel and used the scarf to “let down her hair,” while another disappeared after putting on the “invisibility cloak.”

Mirin then had students split into groups, each with its own prop. The groups created a quick story using the prop and a few key rules. They had to use the word “pickle.” One group found themselves in a pretend work-place dilemma.

“I have to give a presentation on pickles,” Wyatt said, taking the stage. “The thing is, I hate pickles.”

Using a dinner plate, a second group had students “go out to eat” and order pickles, but they were “rotten” when they arrived at the table. To fix the problem, the waiter quickly ran to a store, with another student acting as the deli worker who sold them “the freshest pickles” their money could buy.

Mirin said the routines performed on Tuesday are just a few of the templates the club experiments with when they get together for rehearsal after school each week, thanks to funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s STARS program and the Warwick Cultural Council. The group will continue to meet through mid-March.

“I like to work with this mix of ages,” Mirin said. “Kids love to make stuff up.”

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.




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