Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson’s student-run newspaper
Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Branson School News, Sports, Life and Opinion

The Blazer

Actors shine at annual Theatresports event

On Jan. 12, Branson’s acting students competed in the annual Theatresports competition. Invented by Keith Johnstone, Theatresports is an improvisation competition in which teams compete in different improv games, for which they are judged and awarded points. Audience participation is key since they are asked to propose locations and scenarios for the teams. 

This year’s performance was incredibly funny, and a huge success for the actors participating. Head of School Chris Mazzola, one of the three judges, was so impressed that she suggested bringing Theatresports to school assemblies. 

Todd Bickel, director of operations and one of the judges, enjoyed seeing the students shine on stage.

“I love live performances and especially comedy,” Bickel said. “Improv is great to see live, and I just enjoy how talented our students are at this art form.” 

Theatresports is super fun for those watching, but it’s also a blast for the students participating. Acting Performance student Will Beere ‘24 spoke to the valuable connections he made with fellow theater students during Theatresports. 

“You get to do stuff with people that are in other acting classes, and being able to do acting with them is one of the best forms of connection you can make with someone. You don’t need to know someone’s name or have met them in the past; you just go up on stage and have a scene with them,” he said. 

Hazel Levinson ‘27, who is in the Beginning Acting class, also shared how much she loved the community aspect of Theatresports.

“My favorite part is getting to be in a group of people who all love the same thing, acting, and getting to test each other, push each other further, and to be in a place where everyone participating loves it,” she said. 

Caitlin Capitolo ‘24, a former acting student, was one of this year’s judges. Although she judged the technical aspects of each improv, “making sure that they grounded themselves in the improv and didn’t forget little things,” she also enjoyed seeing how actors responded and adapted to changes in scenes. 

“It’s so fun to see people’s creativity come out,” Capitolo said. 

Beere differentiates Theatresports, and improv, from other types of acting, describing it as a “team sport” in which actors have to be especially attentive to the people they’re on stage with in addition to their own performances.

“You don’t have a set character; you mold it as you go, and that’s something that’s really important because it’s not just about you and your character — you also need to make sure that you’re taking care of other people on stage,” he said.

Maura Vaughn, director of Branson’s theater program, spoke to the importance of Theatresports in not only helping students grow as actors, but also allowing them to discover more about themselves as people. 

“Students learn a huge amount about themselves in both preparing for the Theatre Sports competition and during the Theatre Sports competition,” she said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to really identify how you both serve yourself and don’t serve yourself when you’re under pressure.” 

Levinson noted that improv carries over to other types of acting because it forces actors to get out of their comfort zone and deal with the unanticipated challenges acting can bring.

“Improv in general is really good for actors because you never know when you’re on stage if someone’s going to miss a cue, or if a prop will fail, if you’re going to forget a line, and you have to be able to think on your feet and keep it running and help your scene partners.” 

She added, “I think that’s important not just in acting but also in life, because things are going to go wrong all the time.”

In addition to dealing with life’s unpredictability, Vaughn believes that the skills one develops in improv are crucial to communication and teamwork in the real world. 

“Improvisation is the skill of listening deeply, identifying what the offer is, and building on what others have brought to the table,” she said. “There’s really nowhere in life that you don’t do that, where you don’t listen carefully, you don’t identify the commonalities, and you don’t then take those commonalities and build towards something that’s larger than this moment, and larger than just the people who are participating.” 

As the director of theater, Vaughn has been able to see and appreciate how her students have grown as actors throughout their time in the program. She sees Theatre Sports as a great way for students to reflect on how far they’ve come. 

Vaughn said, “For me, the most fun is watching all of the work that they’ve done in the classroom come to fruition and have them see how adept they have become at this art form.”

Kaia Hayes ‘24 attended Theatresports and highlighted how integral events like it are to the Branson community. In her final year at Branson, Hayes said she is making sure to go to every event she can. She encourages students to go see Theatresports next year. 

“Go to cheer on your fellow classmates and friends,” Hayes said. Events like Theatre Sports are one of the best ways to be fully immersed in Branson’s incredible community. “It’s a beloved Branson event.”

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About the Contributor
Sadie Winter
Sadie Winter, Writer