Spotlight Productions hosts River City Improv, promotes stress-free environment

GVL / Andrew Nyhof

GVL / Andrew Nyhof

Jenny Adkins

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While tramp stamp coupons, handling a crocodile in a box and debating against resurrecting salty moths may seem peculiar to some, it fits perfectly into another day of randomness for Grand Rapid’s River City Improv group. The group brought their live improv show to Grand Valley State University on Thursday, Sept. 27 through the efforts of Spotlight Productions, GVSU’s student-run programming organization.

The show featured four members of River City Improv’s team and encouraged audience participation in creating various scenes and games. Students filled the room with scene suggestions and were even invited on stage to help actors portray an uncomfortable first date horseback riding during one game.

The event was primarily orchestrated by Spotlight Productions’ Membership and Comedy Chair Isabella Kroczaleski. In deciding what event to hold, Kroczaleski said that getting students involved with the performer and interacting with the event is key.

“An improv group is really engaging with their audience, and that’s one thing we really look for: to please the student body and get them more involved in the events that we do,” Kroczaleski said.

In selecting an improv group to visit GVSU, Kroczaleski said locality played a big role. Kroczaleski said that finding an improv group based out of Grand Rapids was exciting because it gave students a chance to interact with and showcase local artists. In setting up the show with River City Improv, Kroczaleski said her excitement to have them visit was mirrored.

“Just communicating with (River City Improv) made me excited,” Kroczaleski said. “(I felt) their excitement and (knew) that I was excited for them to come as well. Just to have the artist be excited to come and reciprocate the same excitement you’re feeling is a good feeling. It makes you excited to share it with the rest of the student body.”

Another trait shared by both the performers and Kroczaleski was the value in creating a fun, relaxing environment. After introducing themselves to the crowd, the performers noted that their goal for the show was to rid the space of negative energy and have a good time – a scene Kroczaleski said she always wants to have set.

“It’s one of my personal, main goals (to create) a stress-free environment,” Kroczaleski said. “As a freshman, I wasn’t in Spotlight, and I looked forward to the events to get away from homework. So, we try to create a relaxed environment—something different from sitting in your room and doing homework.”

As is the case with nearly every Spotlight performance that Kroczaleski has been part of, she said her favorite moments as an organizer are seeing the guests leave. Those are the moments full of resonating laughter and chatter that Kroczaleski said are trademark symbols of a successful show.

“(The students) are more outgoing and they’re happier than when they entered,” Kroczaleski said. “When they entered, it’s almost like they’re hesitant, but by the end, they’re leaving, they’re thanking you and they’re sharing these moments with the student body, which I think is really exciting.”

As the organization’s comedy chair, Kroczaleski said that events like River City Improv’s visit should always be filled with laughter. If Spotlight can provide students with a break in the day to laugh, Kroczaleski said she sees the event as a success.

“What we’re really here to do for them is give them this moment where they can let go of their stress and relax,” Kroczaleski said. “Especially comedy; everybody likes to laugh.”