It’s a little old place to get together with Improv–as the troupe returns to the stage Feb. 12


Courtesy of Mr. Sheh

WHODUNIT?: Isabelle Knowles and Sam Markson lay victims as Nate Roston and Isabella Marius stand above during the Improv game Murder Mystery, during which players must guess the details of a murder through gibberish and funny movements. Sophie Perlstein, Madeleine Yearout, and Rowan Kozinets watch from behind awaiting their next game.

Isabelle Knowles

Enigmatic. Elusive. Efficacious.

Corner them? You can’t. Confuse them?

Well, maybe—but they’ll claim it’s intentional.

And you wouldn’t be able to prove them wrong—because they make up the Desert Mountain High School Improv Team. Try and start a conversation–only for them to employ their quick wit and steal away before you even know what hit you.

So, what really goes on behind those basement Black Box doors? Are they even rehearsing? It’s not like there’s a script or anything, you think, we just pay money to watch them make things up on the spot.

Well, wonder no more. An inside source has the unfiltered scoop on the team’s take. 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Jack Yampolsky and Madeleine Yearout practice a two-person scene in preparation for their Feb. 12 “Love Shack” performance. While “We have to understand the rules of the game–and the chemistry of our teammates–to really deliver a great show!” said Improv captain Isabelle Knowles. (Courtesy of Mr. Sheh)

“Practicing games and concepts everyday together for so long is a great bonding experience,” says this year’s captain, Isabelle Knowles. “Improv requires a lot of vulnerability, and I think rehearsals give us a space to utterly be ourselves, and support each other for it.

“I think that especially shows when it’s time to perform, that’s when our bond is the strongest.” 

Locked away in the theatre room together for 90 minutes a day two to three weeks at a time, their efforts sharpen to a pinnacle on show day. This Friday, February 12th marks the date of their second show this year, Love Shack.

Tradition runs deep in the theatre community, and it’s something that Improv members very much anticipate.

“I really like all the references and inside jokes we make while practicing improv, but my favorite tradition is probably the connection exercise that we do before shows. I would never do that before something like a musical or a play but for improv, it really helps connect with my troupe,” said team member Sam Markson (11). The team’s most intimate tradition is a mantra repeated in pairs to one another before the curtain rises, we are connected and I trust you.

On the more casual side, team members like junior Jack Yampolsky also enjoy pre-show adventures.

…and for the Subway, there’s something about driving with the team to do something so simple on such a crazy day is very fun to me,” said Yampolsky.. It’s the calm before the storm, if you will.” Finally, some of their deepest secrets revealed. Eating fresh and performing rituals.

The idea of performing in front of a live audience is scary to most, but performing dialogue completely unrehearsed?

Nightmare material. The Improv team learns to thrive in this environment, though.

I believe that an Improv troupe must really bond well because you need to be on the same brain-wave for ultimate success,” said Nate Roston 11.

Casting aside fears, there’s nothing like making people happy and giving a great performance, Yampolsky said.

“My first show was really special. I had seen my sister do Improv at DM and I had always wanted to do it myself so when I got on the team last year I was psyched,” he said. “And the energy of the audience in the first show was unmatched, it was overall incredible.”

Even during COVID-19 when audiences are much harder to come by, the experience is still “unforgettable,” another teammate remarks.

SUCCESS!: Isabella Marius, Nate Reston, Sophie Perlstein, Sam Markson, Madeleine Yearout, Isabelle Knowles, and Rowan Kozinets thank their audience after their December show. The performance was the first time the troupe performed as a team. (Courtesy of Mr. Sheh)

“I can’t begin to describe the thrill of being on stage and doing something I’m so passionate about,” Roston said. “I am so grateful that we have been able to do shows this year. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Improv.”

That’s why audiences will find that there’s really no such thing as a bad Improv show.

“Improv is an opportunity to see something go incredibly well or incredibly not well, and if the latter happens, well you can laugh at us, but I hope that you would still laugh with us in times when we don’t mess up,” Yampolsky said.

“But for real, Improv shows have a sense of intimacy that you can’t get with a normal show,” he said, “because of the fact that we’re all working together to entertain [both us and the audience].

“It’s a type of performance that is unique in a very good way.”

Watch the team in action through an interactive livestream from the comfort of your own home this Friday at 7 PM, or stop by Subway and snag an autograph! Either way, they appreciate the attention and look forward to entertaining again.