It’s WITty

The Westlake Improv Troupe gives students opportunities to grow their live performance skills while expressing their creativity
The Westlake Improv Troupe poses for a group photo with guest teachers following their show at the Black Box theatre Friday, Jan. 12. They practiced improv after school throughout the week in preparation for their show.

Lights dim and the audience settles down as two students walk on stage to introduce the upcoming show. The Westlake Improv Troupe, commonly known as WIT, was greeted with a full audience as they hosted their third annual performance in the Black Box Theatre 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12.

The WIT program is run by Meredith Yanchak and has been operating for many years. Now, although it has faced many challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is back in full swing and has been able to continue with many pre-Covid traditions. 

The show’s theme was America vs. Britain, and each member of the troupe was assigned a side to support. The team leaders of the show were students senior Ernesto Galvan on America’s side and senior Dia Rushing on Britain’s side. All of the troupe members dressed up for their side’s theme and came up with a special name for themselves. The two hour show included several improv games, audience participation and even several teachers as guest actors including Eric Martin, Scott Horton, Antoine Maury, Jean Davis, Kenzie Sanchez, and principal Steve Ramsey. 

Sophomore Neko Beverding successfully auditioned to join WIT summer 2023 and was on America’s team in the troupe’s last show. She shares her experiences after joining the group and gives an insider’s insight to their last show. 

“You have to go through an audition [to join] but it was just impromptu,” Beverding said “It was so stressful, honestly. I was panicked and I [really thought] ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get in’ but I got it!”

Now that she’s joined the program, Beverding has put a lot of work into improving her improv and acting skills. Although WIT has been a time commitment, Beverding has loved performing at the WIT shows and growing closer to the other troupe members.

“We have practice every Monday and Friday, and then the whole week before [a] show,” Beverding said. “[My favorite part of WIT] are the shows. They’re fun once we get in front of an audience. We run through a bunch of improv games. Normally we get to play in two and hopefully people will laugh if [we’re] funny!” 

Beverding’s favorite part of their most recent show was “Game Maker.” The audience chose a letter, then each player had to come up with an improv game that started with that letter. After each person had an idea, they presented them, and the audience voted on the best one which the actors then played.

”I really liked the game maker because my game got chosen,” Beverding said. “My game was about a person who keeps interrupting the other players of the game so the [improv] situation [was] always changing.”

Sophomore Aurora Michalakos is a member of the drama department and was in the audience at the WIT show to watch and support her acting friends, including Beverding. Her favorite game was one of the very first games in the show.

“I liked the Speed Dating one at the beginning where two people sat down [and] one person knew a prompt and [the other] person didn’t. They had to act out a scene [with the prompt,]” Michalakos said.

There were also many show highlights that Beverding enjoyed watching other members perform while not on the stage herself. These highlights included moments in Michalakos’ favorite game, Speed Dating.

“I really liked the beginning game where one of my fellow troop members did a Pinocchio skit and [jokingly] insulted someone. [It] was funny. They said ‘your handsome’ [to another actor] but they were Pinocchio so [they acted out] their nose growing,” said Beverding.

As the show was WIT’s guest teacher performance, Beverding got the chance to act alongside teachers from around campus.

“We had teachers in part of the game and those were funny to watch because it was the teachers’ first time doing improv,” said Beverding. “The principal was there, Mr. Ramsey!”

Michalakos also commented on loving guest teachers being an aspect of the show.

“I liked the teachers! They were a lot better than I thought they would be. They made some really funny jokes,” said Michalakos. “They made me laugh a lot.”

The Westlake Improve Troop is a vibrant program associated closely with the drama department that lets its students express their creativity and grow their quick-thinking performing skills. Its shows reach far and wide within the community and help bring laughter to students, parents, and teachers alike. 

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