AISU improv team dedicates performance to former studentFeb 08, 2018 01:08PM ● By Julie Slama
AISU’s improv team, nicknamed “Dragon’s Breath,” took a break from competition to hold a benefit performance recently for a recent AISU alumnus’ family after he was hit and killed walking home. (Megan Sticht/AISU)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
American International School of Utah (AISU) Spanish teacher and improv team coach Megan Sticht said recent graduate Robert Harsh transformed the high school.
“Robert was very kind and soft spoken,” she said. “He didn’t realize how awesome he was. When kids who were suffering depression or contemplating suicide encountered Robert, his kindness pulled them out. He wanted to make sure no one felt alone.”
The 19-year-old recent graduate was killed the day before Thanksgiving when a Cadillac Escalade hit him in a crosswalk, just around the corner from his home.
“It affected a lot of people really hard. We were already planning to give a performance to raise money, but our students decided to dedicate our December show to Robert to defray funeral costs. We raised $100. It shows our small high school performance can give something and his parents came to the show. They’re so kind and gracious,” Sticht said.
AISU’s improv team, nicknamed “Dragon’s Breath,” are in the midst of fundraising for both the school’s performing arts department to purchase three iPod touches and a receipt printer so they could support an online ticket sales platform as well as hopes to travel to Chicago in spring 2019 to take part in intensive classes at the Second City comedy club.
In addition to their school performance for their classmate, Dragon’s Breath competed at Skyline’s Improv Cage Match in December, where a couple teams compete in 20-minute sets against one another.
“We can choose the format whether it’s long or short form, games, dramatic improv. We performed some short form with comedic games and the audience voted us best so now we move onto semifinals Feb. 16,” she said.
Their routine included games with rhyme or rap, an advice panel, a pantomime about being late for work, a performance based on text message and more.
“With improv, we make it up as we go along, but we play games that give it structure. Short-form improv is what is traditionally shown at an improv show. Each person in line contributes to a specific topic and it’s just a blast. The topics change, so even when you play the same game, the subject isn’t the same, so it keeps it fresh,” she said.
In January, they had the opportunity to perform at the Wasatch Improv Festival, which welcomes about 60 troupes from across the country. With so many high school groups wanting to take part, Sticht said that they created a festival show just for the high school teams.
“We will perform and get immediate feedback from professionals,” Sticht said before the competition. “It’s a good way for our team to watch professionals and learn from them as well.”