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Second City Touring Company gives master class for Irmo High School theatre students

Columbia – Twenty-five Honors and International Baccalaureate Theatre students at Irmo High School International School for the Arts had the opportunity to take a master class with performers visiting from the Second City Touring Company in Chicago. The performers led students in a variety of improvisation exercises and taught them how to keep their acting genuine and believable by working together.

“It’s great to have professionals like Second City come and work with our students because it’s the most famous improvisation sketch comedy company in the world and most students will never get an opportunity to work with people at this level,” IHS Theatre Teacher Lyle Browne said.

Students participated in games and team activities to advance their improvisation skills. “Zip, Zap, Zop” is played in a circle where students pass an imaginary zip, zap, or zop to other students in order. Students work together to keep the rhythm going and anticipate the next move, like in improvisation. Another game, “Freeze” starts with two actors improvising a scene. Once another student says freeze, they replace one of the actors and begin a different scenario. The group also did non-verbal activities including making objects from their bodies and acting out places, like a library and a pirate ship, without speaking.

In addition to the improvisation training, students gained invaluable advice from professional performers. Students like twelfth grader Victoria Leatherman were grateful for this learning opportunity. “They made it easy to do really. They stated what you needed to do in improv so it was easy for me to do and it was a lot of fun,” explained Leatherman, “It helped outside of the classroom because they gave a lot of advice.”

Second City performer Scott Nelson enjoys mentoring students and said, “I love doing stuff like this because it’s getting students involved, getting them out of their comfort zone and finding new things about themselves, and exploring their own minds and creativity.”

The Second City Touring Company is the most famous improvisation company in the world. Saturday Night Live was started with a troupe from Second City almost 45 years ago and continues to take actors from Second City to be in their cast today. Famous Second City actors include Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, John and Jim Belushi, Bill Murray, Chris Farley, and many more. The visit was in partnership with Midlands Technical College Theatre and their continued support of the theatre program at Irmo High School.

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