Improv group brings laughter to SRU

Rock'em Sock'em improv group performs shows for students and faculty throughout the semester

Published by Hope Hoehler, Date: May 1, 2019
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The SRU improv group, Rock'em Sock'em poses with the Steel City improv group after opening for their show April 25.

The Rock‘em Sock‘em improv group, advised by Dr. Melissa Ford, opened for the Steel City Improv group at Thursday night’s improv show.  

Rock‘em Sock‘em has been around SRU’s campus starting in the fall semester of 2018 and are in the process to become an SGA recognized organization by the fall semester of 2019.  

Improv has not only found its way to campus, but it holds close to advisor Dr. Ford.  

Ford has a long history of improv and has been doing it for 15 years as an undergraduate, graduate student and even semi-professionally when she lived in St. Louis, Missouri. Ford said that her interest in improv stemmed from the famous show “Whose Line is it Anyway”. Ford would always watch the reruns and soon began to think that she could do what was being done on the show. Ford said that with training and lots of practice, she did.  

“Improv became such an important part of my life,” Ford said.  

When Ford arrived at SRU she said she was saddened and surprised that there was no improv group on campus. With Ford’s improv history she decided to put out a call in the fall semester of 2018 to any students that were interested in forming an improv group.  

Ford said that her call received great responses, and enthusiastic and talented students began showing up to practices. Originally, practices were held weekly or biweekly, but as the group grew, practices were being held twice a week both at common hour and in the evening to give students an opportunity to attend the practices.  

The Rock‘em Sock‘em group has 10 solid members, with Sam Grove acting as president.  

Ford said that the improv group is concentrating on short form improv, which are two- to three-minute games that have weird restrictions or rules to increase the probability that something silly will happen. One of the short form improv games is the dating game, where there are weird bachelors you have to date, and the person must come in and guess who these people are. 

“[Thursday night], the bachelors were John Wilkes Booth, Iron Man and the planet Pluto,” Ford said.  

Ford’s favorite game that the Rock‘em Sock’em group performs is the alphabet game. According to Ford, this game requires a scene with another person but every sentence the student says must begin with the next letter of the alphabet.  

“Short form games rely on these little gimmicks,” Ford said. “We will play about 10 or some games that explore the possibilities of character and the absurdities of plot.” 

Ford said that the group is working towards long-form improv, which is throwing students on stage to perform a scene. She said this type of improv allows for more freedom and a larger opportunity for plot and character development.  

“We have a great foundation,” Ford said. “I love seeing those moments where the students really get it as they perform it on stage.” 

Ford encourages all students to come out to practices starting the fall semester of fall 2019 because it’s a good opportunity to laugh and relieve stress. Ford said that there are only one or two students who have had improv experience in the Rock‘em Sock‘em group.  

“You don’t have to perform,” Ford said. “You could just come to practices and laugh, or you can perform and get really involved. The important thing is to have fun. I encourage students to come out to the shows, I promise they won’t be pulled up on stage.” 

Attendance at the first show was about 30 people, but Ford hopes to collaborate with other organizations in the future to increase attendance. The Rock‘em Sock‘em group will have their last performance of the semester May 3 in the ATS.  

“People are scared of being judged or doing the wrong thing,” Ford said. “The first thing that I teach people in improv, is that there is no wrong way. There are some guidelines you can follow and things you can do to make yourself better. Everything you do and every choice you make is a valid choice we will accept.” 

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