By Amanda Leonard || Staff Writer
The College Reporter recently sat down with president of The Rumspringas Jess Rile to gain insight into the group’s creative process and hear about Rile’s three-and-a-half years of experience performing in F&M’s only improvisational comedy group.
Rile was first introduced to the ‘springas through a high school friend that came to F&M the year before and was already part of the group. She had been involved in theater in high school and wanted to continue performing in college. After auditioning, she successfully became a member during the second semester of her freshman year.
All Rumspringa rehearsals start with a check-in to see how the group members have been feeling. As improv relies heavily on trust and connection between people, it’s important to establish these things from the very beginning of the rehearsal, says Rile.
Next, the group moves on to warm-ups: improvisational games that intend to get everyone psyched up and ready to perform. Then, they move on to practicing the actual improvisation that you’ll see at a Rumspringas show. The group will typically do 30 minutes of long-form improv, or Harold, a more structured version of improv that involves a collage of scenes inspired by a single suggestion from the audience. In addition, they consistently work to improve their craft by doing exercises related to areas that they want to work on, whether it be physicality, character work, etc., and referring to books written about improvisation.
One key factor that defines The Rumspringas is the intimate nature of their performances. The group has historically performed in the Other Room Theater on North Pine Street, a black-box theater with an “edgy and experimental feel,” a vibe well-suited for improv. The performances cultivated in this space have thus served as casual social events for students, where it’s perfectly acceptable to sit cross-legged on the floor and laugh at any time it feels organic.
The Rumspringas are also a close-knit group of people whose on-stage chemistry makes its way into everyday life. They try to spend as much time as possible with each other outside of rehearsals as a full group, but they end up naturally hanging out in smaller groups as well because of how close their friendships have become.
As a senior, Rile said that her being in The Rumspringas has been “the number one best part of [her] college experience,” and that her fellow performers have become her closest friends. She also noted that being involved with improv has not only made her a better performer, but it’s improved her conversational and public speaking skills, helped her to be able to think on her feet, and served as a personal source of escape and relaxation.
“Every time i go to a rehearsal, even if i don’t feel like going, I just feel a hundred times better. the best stress reliever,” Rile said.
When asked about the key to understanding The Rumspringas’ culture and dynamic, Rile explained that each Rumpspringas member is very different from another, with eclectic personalities and several different interests and activities outside of improv. Yet, they are bound by this one common love and connect tremendously well despite these variations.
“The key thing to understand on why we are so unique, is that we are very different people. It’s kind of shocking that that we work so well together,” Rile said.
First-Year Amanda Leonard is a Staff Writer. Her email is email@example.com.