Allison Webster opened a long-form improv show by requesting that the audience shout out the name of someone important to them. After hearing the responses of “Amber” and “Ashley,” she combined the two as her own character name and began forming the plot that her fellow actors would have to build off of for the next hour. Webster is a member of the Situational Normal All Fucked Up (or SNAFU to keep it family friendly) improv troupe, the University of Texas’ only long-form improv performers. Their latest performance (brought to you by the letter two) that took place on Friday, Sept. 23 dealt with an expanded plot centered around the troubled rearing of a butterfly farm.
Story by Ethan Elkins
Photos by Miranda Chiechi
SNAFU started in the fall of 2013 by UT students who wanted a long-form improv — an improvised play with drawn-out scenes — troupe on campus. Before SNAFU, there was only the short-form troupe, Gigglepants. English senior Aranza Garza auditioned for SNAFU by accident after thinking the tryout was for Gigglepants. Fond of her mistake, Garza now oversees the organization's logistics and planning. “I like long-form because there is more opportunity for creative expression,” Garza says.
Historically, the troupe has had between ten and thirteen members, but there are currently only nine. A key component in the success of an improv troupe is understanding the humor of the small team. “Much of the performance has to do with being connected to your team members,” Garza says.
None of the show’s content is scripted prior to the performance. The only planned aspect is a question to ask the audience to get a prompt. SNAFU is currently using the armondo technique, which starts with a story-telling monologue from an audience member’s suggestion. After the monologue, actors improvise scenes and characters based on the monologue.
The entire performance is built off of listening. Garza compares it to having a normal conversation with someone, observing and listening for places to respond and interject. She explains her brain is constantly moving with ideas while still being fully aware of the scene. “It is important to make sure what you are going to say will to move the scene forward, not hold it back,” Garza says.
The SNAFU improv troupe is not completely exclusive. Tryouts for new members are going to be held next month in the format of a two day process on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and Wednesday, Oct. 19. The times and locations are still to be determined. While only one day is required, Garza recommends going to both to be remembered by the troupe. After auditions, there will be a preliminary cut and call-back, and then the troupe will be finalized with the people who have potential to be a good improvisor. “You should accept what is on the stage and add to it in a positive way,” Garza says.
The next SNAFU improv performance will be on Friday, Oct. 7 at 8 PM. The organization performs every two weeks in CMA 2.306, although the location is subject to change.