Aron-2009, Garrett-2010, Chris-2010, Ian-2008, Andrew B.-2004, James-2006, Tim-2009, Stephen-2000, Andrew K-2007, Mac-2006, Danny-2007, Tommy-2000, Brian-2004, Steven-2011, Allie-2009, Claire-2009, Kay-2011, Amy-2009, Laura-2010, Kristie-2009, Matt-2008, Clay-2005 (Plus Elizabeth-2010)
This was the 10th year of Exit 16 alumni shows (because it's the 11th year of Exit 16). It didn't start in a particularly formal way—Rich (the drama teacher who started it all) just asked kids who were home for Christmas to hop up on stage and play a few games. As the number of alumni grew, the show became a bigger deal. Numbers still vary from year to year—last year there were about 30 kids, this time a little more than 20.
We started doing two shows to hold the crowds, but the first show (which we almost ditched this year—risking the wrath of kids for whom it's become tradition—for a chance to move to a bigger venue) has become a trial run. (Next year, we should probably charge less.) I learn something every year; this year, it was "don't kid yourself about maintaining any sense of control—roll with whatever happens."
So the plan was a first half of games big enough to hold a bunch of players, and a second half of longform. When the first half ran long, I just moved the remaining games to the second half, and it timed out perfectly. I hosted the first round to see how things went, which meant no sound and lights; the kids handled the second show so I could tech.
And it was a blast. Fun scenework, great teamwork, tons of physical and intellectual play, and solid performances by the old and new kids. (Kids. Right. The oldest ones are 27 now.) The early show was a great warm-up, and the second show worked perfectly from start to finish. It would be so easy for this show to be just a chance to screw around onstage with old friends, but every year the content gets stronger. The smallish group was nice, because they all got to play more. And watching them support and heighten each others' work was...well, it was what improv is all about.
The Tantrum guys did a private show down the road tonight, and I'll admit the oldest child in me haaaaaaaated being left out—and it was as much (or more) about the chance to road-trip with the group as it was about doing the show (which apparently went great—thanks for the update, Nikki).
But I got over that in the parking lot of the high school. The first "kid" I saw was Stephen Parish, one of the charter Exit 16 members. He heard about the show on Facebook, drove in from Manhattan wearing the second t-shirt the group ever made, and played as smart and funny and quirky as he ever did. Seeing and catching up with the older alums (which we can now do in a bar) is one of the best parts of the alumni show.
Another is watching the newbies raise their game. There are two times during the year when the first-year members have growth spurts. The second is during auditions, where they go from being the n00bs to the experienced players.
But the first is during the alumni show, when they stop being the new kids—they're just Exit 16 members. Which, as it turns out, is a pretty cool thing.