‘Plan B’ Combines Improv and Scripted Theater

Photo by Laura French

A partly scripted, partly improvised show called “Plan B” was performed by a five-member troupe in Ramapo’s Adler Theater on Sunday. The troupe, which includes two Ramapo alumni, marked their first theater performance during the night’s two shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Johnny Nash, one of the “Plan B Players,” described the show as “half-scripted, half-improv.” The performance begins with Nash performing lines from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” but quickly shifts into improv when the Shakespeare performance falls apart and the troupe must commence with “Plan B.”

Throughout the two-hour show, the troupe performed several improv games, such as “Whose Line,” “Party Quirks” and “Questions Only.” Between the activities were scripted scenes which established back stories for some of the members, and also educated the audience about how improv should be performed. For example, the players explained that one should sparsely say the word “no” while performing improv and always try to say “yes, and” to continuously move a scene forward.

“I liked it a lot. I think the guys have a lot of good energy,” said Kelsea Dineen, an audience member and Ramapo alumna. “They do a good job with explaining the games if you don’t know, and of course, bringing people in from the audience is always fun.”

Members of the audience, which included several Ramapo alumni and others from outside the College, were able to participate in some scenes such as “Moving People,” during which the performers are not allowed to move on their own and must be moved around by audience volunteers. The audience was also able to participate by giving the performers suggestions for them to base their scenes around.

“They were giving out really cool suggestions,” said Brendan O’Brien, another member of the troupe. “We felt good and everyone seemed to like it.”

The show was first conceived over the summer, when four of the group’s members – Nash, O’Brien, Chris Kent and Andrew Beadle – came together to collaborate and rehearse.

“We all wanted a reason to do improv together because we only had improv class together,” O’Brien said. “They were fun to do it with and they were good at it and that’s kind of the basic bottom line of it.”

Kent, who graduated from Ramapo in 2013, credited the College’s Alpha Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society with sponsoring the event and contributing to many of the show’s components, such as lighting.

“It’s not the first time we did the show, but the first time we did it in a theater setting,” he said.  “These are elements we’ve never had before to work with.” 

Ashely Scales, another Ramapo alumna, is the fifth and most recent member of the troupe—her official membership was announced at the 9:30 p.m. show. “I’ve been friends with all of them for years; I’ve come and supported them throughout this whole process,” she said. “They’re really great and funny.”

Overall, the audience seemed to enjoy the show; there was lots of laughter and enthusiasm when offering suggestions and volunteering to become a part of a scene.

“I loved it,” said Frank Hughes, an alumnus. “I was in the theater program here and it’s always great to come back and see friends who went here and friends I’ve collected along the way come back and work their craft. There should be more improv at Ramapo.”