The Highlander

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Unruly Theatre Project offers hilarious entertainment

Local improv troupe provides immersive audience experience

The cast of the Unruly Theatre Project (UTP) celebrates after a successful second show of the year.

The cast of the Unruly Theatre Project (UTP) celebrates after a successful second show of the year.

Anya Chen

Anya Chen

The cast of the Unruly Theatre Project (UTP) celebrates after a successful second show of the year.


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Audience members of all ages, including fellow Highlanders who came to support their friends, gather into the McLean Project for the Arts gallery-turned-show space on a breezy Thursday evening. Several chairs are set up in a friendly, casual setting, and the seats are quickly filled by audience members who are waiting for the second show of the year to start with anticipation. The cast bursts onstage and instantly brightens the room with their enthusiasm and excitement that is quickly reflected on the audience’s faces.

The Unruly Theatre Project, an improv-focused theatre troupe composed of dedicated high schoolers, showcases unscripted comedic theatre that is catered to the audience. They highlight the importance of audience immersion and participation and interact with their audience as much as possible through games or questions ranging from “what are some places where you’d want to take a scenic tour” to “what would you not want to find in your Kung Pao chicken?” Within a few minutes, somehow the audience answer of “Paris” for the first question turned into an American tourist, played by junior Ariana Colder, who finds out her husband of two years is a convict, as well as a blind grandmother, played by sophomore Ren Wallace, who in a desperate attempt to search for her lost goat, ends up tunneling through a mountain.

“I love how improv is free and not restrained by boundaries,” said sophomore Rebecca Blacksten, who co-hosted the show with Colder. “Improv is a really great way for me to express my creativity.”

Accents, self deprecating jokes, references to pop culture and current events, sarcastic one-liners and puns are key components of their comedic routine that filled the atmosphere with laughter. There was not a single dry moment for the audience that evening, which is an especially difficult task to accomplish when the show has two acts and involves so much quick thinking.

“I had lots of fun,” said sophomore Sachi Dieker, an audience member who proposed a question as a prompt for a scene involving cast members who played a panel of advisors that mocked the personalities of reality TV judges. “They really interacted with me and were very responsive to my question, and I really enjoyed it.”

Since the show is entirely improvised, the content of each show is different. This encourages audience members to come back for more without having to watch the same thing over and over again.

“Recently, we had a scene about a 1950s soda shop where the actors ended up throwing each other into a garbage can at the end,” director Melissa Richardson said.

“It’s a good time, honestly,” Colder added. “You get to watch a bunch of kids embarrass themselves in really clever ways, and you can even be a part of the show if you want to. I just think that’s really cool.”

If you’re looking for a fun event to go to to unwind after a day of stress at school, look no further than the Unruly Theatre Project. The cast’s vivacious energy and animated attitudes will surely refresh you and provide you with more than just a good laugh. Their next show is on Jan 19 at Herndon Art Space. Be sure to follow the Unruly Theatre Project on Instagram @theunrulytheatreproject for more updates.

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Unruly Theatre Project offers hilarious entertainment