By Anne Eickstadt


On Thursday, Nov. 3, the BNHS Improv Anonymous started with an introduction of: “Hi, everyone. My name is Jettie…Natalie…Oscar…,” followed by a little bit about themselves: “It’s my third year, and it hasn’t helped a bit.” “I’m here because my mom made me come.” “The improv team makes fun of me for wearing Crocs.” “I’m so passive-aggressive that I waited for everyone to sit down before introducing myself…” as if the improvisers were all a part of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Belvidere North Highimprov-anonymousimprov-anonymous-2improv-anonymous-3 School’s improv team has been in existence for 10 years.

“It’s almost entirely student run,” Wendy Taylor, staff supervisor for the group, said. “I oversee the shows and final rehearsals, but they run all the rehearsals themselves. Sometimes, I bring in a professional improv artist to help. This year, we have 16 students in the troupe. We usually range between 12 and 17 members. It’s unusual for us to have freshmen on the team, and this year, we have three. We have open auditions at the beginning of the year to fill empty spots. Once you are on the team, you stay on the team. Improv is really big right now; it’s really exploded.”

Members of Improv Anonymous this year are: Jettie Keefer,Natalie Abramat,Jazmin Guzman, Burke Cochran, Cal Taylor, Oscar Padilla, Natalie Perez, Morgan Ceniseros, Gabe Hudson, Deja Sandkamp,
Seth Lambright, Brian Edwards, Eli Hudson, Alex Weichold, Javi Martinez, and Lily Czechowicz.

“Some high schools have competitive improv teams. We don’t. Not because I don’t think they are good enough, but because I have limited time and resources. I’m a math teacher, and I got the theater job as well when Belvidere North opened 10 years ago,” Taylor said. “One of our former members, Nick McDowell, went on to Columbia University. He majored in comedy writing and performance.”

The improv teachers at Columbia include directors from The Second City who can help students network with professionals in the area. McDowell has performed with The Second City in Chicago as well as with other improvisational troupes.

“We call what we do ‘playing’ not ‘rehearsing.’ We just have a ball playing games,” Taylor said. “We think the audience would like to have fun with us. This was a good first show. Almost 100 people showed up. Former improv members come to the shows. Even parents whose improv kids have graduated come to our shows.”

These high schoolers put their imagination and creative abilities to the test in front of an audience. In ‘Story, Story,’ the audience chose a children’s book title [Everybody Poops]. The cast took turns telling lines from the story they improvised based on the title. Some of the other scenes of the night included: ‘Last Dance Hero,’ ‘Love Letters,’ ‘Shoulda Said,’ and ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop.’

Improv Anonymous at Belvidere North High School will perform three more shows this school year. The shows will be on Dec. 15, Feb. 9, and April 20. Tickets are $4, and performances will be held in the cafeteria.

Belvidere North is located at 9393 Beloit Road in Belvidere.

For more information about events at Belvidere North High School, go to:

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