Thursday, December 27, 2007

State of the Scene, part 2: A high school improv group turns 10.

Part 2 in a completely subjective year-end review of KC improv. And if writing about the 10th anniversary of Liberty High School’s Exit 16 doesn’t have signs of bias all over it, I don’t know what does.

Here’s why it’s important.

Exit 16 performs once a month to no less than 150 people. Do they show up because their friends are on stage? Absolutely. Is any else to compete against on Tuesday nights in Liberty, MO? Outside of school activities, not really. Does the $3-at-lunch/$5-at-the-show ticket price help? Without a doubt. 

My point is not that student troupes draw crowds—that’s a given. High school and college troupes play to sell-out crowds all over the country. (I am very, very tired of hearing "My troupe in Insert-small-rural-college-town-here had 400 people in the audience every week." Awesome. It was that or drinking grain alcohol in your dorm room.) It matters because for the KC improv community to thrive, we have to figure out what to do with these players and audience members.

The players love improv. At our annual alumni show, a half-dozen grads said some version of, “I miss this. I’d love to get into it again.” There are improv troupes at schools all over the city, turning out players of various talent and skill levels. How do we get them into the community early? Where do we send them when they’re ready for the next step? How do we make high school teams the farm system for our troupes and shows?

Their audiences like it, too. And you’d think they might be likely to seek out the professional version of what they see at school. (You’d think.) How do we attract them to our shows? How do we create loyalty to local troupes? And why wait ‘til they graduate—how do we reach them and interest them in what’s going on?

Hell, yes, this sounds opportunistic: High schools are probably the single richest resource for troupes in Kansas City. But that doesn’t matter unless we talk to them—and have something to offer.

1 comment:

New rule: I'm not approving anonymous comments. If you want to sit at the grownup table, you have to sign your name.

Now c'mon. Pick a fight.