Mules are actin’ up: Improv and Powder & Wig perform!

Powder and Wig and Colby Improv are two major performing arts clubs here on  campus, Powder and Wig is Colby’s “all inclusive, student-run theater group.” Productions are cast and directed by Colby students with various levels of theater experience, currently led by President Nora Hill ’18 and Vice President Kelsey Book ’18. Members spend varying amounts of time at rehearsals based on their role in the production, as well as their personal schedules. Charlotte Purcell ’19, the Social Chair of Powder and Wig, addressed the club’s flexible schedule, “During a show’s rehearsal period, you could be doing two hour rehearsals once/twice a week or five times a week.  It all depends on the intensity of the show and how long you have to put it together.  Tech week, the week leading up to the performance, is hectic, and that one week of the semester is the biggest time commitment.”

Kaylee Pomelow ’19, publicity chair and active member of the group, also addressed the club’s flexible schedule. “The weekly commitment varies depending on what type of involvement you’re looking for. Directing or stage managing a show involves running rehearsals four to five days a week, while tech positions rely on more independent work with a more strict commitment during tech week. Acting commitments depend on the size of your role; some actors only have to go to rehearsal once or twice a week, while others are called fou to five days a week. That being said, Powder and Wig is pretty flexible with other commitments and club activities, for example, if you have other commitments on specific days of the week, the stage manager will make sure that you are not scheduled for a rehearsal during those days,”  Pomelow explained.

Powder and Wig puts up several shows throughout the year, both on and off-campus. Previous shows have included The Chairs, Dead Man’s Cellphone, and Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet. Pomelow spoke about one of her favorite of the group’s productions: Stop Kiss. This show revolves around two women who develop romantic feelings for one another, and are assaulted in the street after their first kiss. “The show itself is so intricate and the process was creatively really amazing; the show was playful, but had some very seriously subject matter and we all worked to do it justice. It was a fairly small cast and we all bounced ideas off each other really well. I loved the character I was playing and became very close with the other cast members through the process.”

This weekend, the group put on the show Dracula Rides Again. Purcell directed the show, and reported, “I thought this weekend’s show went great! I’m so proud of my cast and crew. We did it, guys.”

Pomelow also expressed her pride in this weekend’s production. “I thought Dracula Rides Again was really fun to watch. The cast was incredibly committed energetically, which kept the production very engaging. It was also great to see so many underclassmen and first years involved in the show.”

With such a dynamic and diverse group of actors, rehearsals “tend to be filled with a lot of laughs.” Purcell explained. “While figuring out how to stage scenes, learn lines, and develop characters, hilarity ensues, even in serious shows.”

“The rehearsal process can really be a blast,” Pomelow confirmed. “Generally, rehearsals towards the beginning of a process involve character work and text exploration, then later rehearsals move towards setting blocking (where actors move on stage) and doing full runs of the show. We try to keep the rehearsal process really positive and open. The Powder and Wig Board also assigns a board member to each show so the cast has a person to contact in case a concern during the rehearsal process.” Pomelow added that, “Something that a lot of people don’t realize about Powder and Wig is that literally anyone with any level of experience can join at any point in the year. Auditions are held several times a year, but even if you miss those for some reason, we always have tech positions open.”

Powder and Wig invites you to stop by their office below Mary Low Coffeehouse or email them at powderandwig.board@gmail.com if you are interested in a future production.

Colby Improv is another popular performing arts club on campus. At the beginning of each semester, Colby Improv holds open tryouts for Colby students. Anywhere between three and 30 people try out for the group each semester, and the group ultimately consists of 10 or 11 members. They meet twice a week for two hours to practice potential show ideas, such as comedy games and long-form scenes. This year, the group is led by seniors Riley Meidell ’18 and Maddy Placik ’18.

A physics major and art minor from the suburbs of Chicago, Placik joined Improv the fall of her freshman year here at Colby. Although she did not have any improv experience other than shows at overnight camps, she “always just liked being funny and making people laugh,” she explained. “I’ve always wanted to do improv, so I said, ‘why not?’”

The group performs publicly three times per semester. Each show runs for about an hour. Short-form shows, where the group will play between five and six comedy games, are held in Bobby Silverman. Long-form shows, where the group carries out one or two scenes, are held in Bixler Auditorium. Placik explained that she prefers the short-form shows, but also finds the long-form shows very fulfilling. “Bobby Silverman is always so packed, and you can just feel the energy of everyone in there which is fun. The long-form shows I think are kind of more rewarding because they’re harder to do than than short form.”

Placik also commented that the energy during performances often fuels the actors’ adrenaline levels to the point where they do not necessarily remember the show once it has finished, “I feel like I try and forget about the shows after they happen. Not on purpose, but there’s so much going on and so much adrenaline that you just forget. It’s fun. It’s scary, for sure. It’s rewarding though.”

Placik also spoke about the camaraderie between group members. They usually eat dinner together after every rehearsal, taking an opportunity to get to know each other better outside of the practice setting. “My favorite memories have just been hanging out with everyone in Improv and getting to know everyone. It’s a cool group of people, and we’re all friends with different people, so it’s nice to get to know each other. Last year, five seniors graduated and they were all like my big brothers.”

The group’s next show, which will be long-form, will be held in Bixler Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 17.