With a performance featuring “funny sketches, physical comedy, stand-up, humorous poetry, and flights of fancy,” says Ohio Wesleyan University senior Gus Wood, anything can happen. And, at this OWU event, it did.
A human exercise bike? Check. Running in slow motion? Check. A classroom in the Twilight Zone? Of course! All of these elements were featured in a student-created sketch show presented by OWU Department of Theatre & Dance students Jan. 24 at Chappelear Drama Center.
The student-actors worked with acclaimed performance artist Robert Post to develop and create short sketch scenes. Post spent more than a week in residence at Ohio Wesleyan, during which time he also performed solo as part of the University’s annual Performing Arts Series.
“When I first met Robert Post, I knew he would be funny, but when I saw the show, he was funny on a whole other level,” says first-year student Reggie Hemphill. “I learned the essences and real basics of improv comedy.”
Post attended The Ohio State University and serves as visiting artist there. He has created more than 30 works, earning him awards and fellowships from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council. He has taken his one-man performances to 46 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Russia, the Mediterranean, Japan, and Turkey.
His Ohio Wesleyan residency was facilitated by OWU professor Elane Denny-Todd, who this semester is teaching a “Movement for Actors” class.
“The fact that he is internationally acclaimed is very exciting for our students,” Denny-Todd says. “Post has such a generous spirit. The detail has opened the eyes of the students, and they now have a better understanding of how long it can take to perfect a small scene.”
Post says his role in the creative process is to help students “unfold and discover things and help lead them there. [The scene] becomes obvious to them when it needs to be. I help them chisel it.”
During rehearsal, students carved out their scenes, and Post helped them pay attention to every move they made. He also helped groups find ways to express themselves more effectively.
“Each group makes something different of their own, and it has to play out in some sort of way,” says sophomore Emma Merritt.
While introducing scenes at the final performance, Post told the audience: “It’s always interesting, creating. You start with an idea, and it keeps going. It’s about creating original stuff. …You never know where it will go.”
Reflecting the playful nature of the final show (and Post’s creative personality), the concluding performance started at 6:53 p.m., just because it was … quirky.