By Anastazja Kolodziej
First, they swarmed around a girl sitting in a chair. Then they moved around her in a circle, hissing, moaning and screaming.
“It’s only going to be a couple of days until you eat a bad food…” one said to the girl.
“I came from Hell and I thought you were the prettiest girl at Maryland…” another said.
No, this was not a coven of witches preying on an unsuspecting victim, nor was it a scene from a horror movie — it was one of many games played at Erasable Inc.’s Halloween show Oct. 26.
The game, usually called Game-O-Matic, was re-titled Death-O-Matic to match the spooky nature of the show. It requires group members to make up games based on titles suggested by the audience. After each of the participating members creates a game, the audience chooses which one they want the group to play.
In this case, the title of the game was “Wheel of Fortune.” The chosen rules called for an audience member to sit in a chair onstage, while Erasable Inc. members surrounded her and proceeded to foresee her future.
Erasable Inc. spent their evening acting out scenes and playing games like Death-O-Matic at their annual Halloween show at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union. The group performs every Friday on the steps of McKeldin Library, but the Halloween show was their first large-scale performance of the year. It was also the debut show of the new Erasable Inc. actors.
This year the group welcomed three new members.
“This fall is a lot of teaching things to our new members. So, our babes will learn different short-form games, different long form games, philosophies of Inc. that are maybe unique rather than just any old improv group,” Stephanie Moy, a member of Erasable Inc. said.
Erasable Inc. is the University of Maryland’s only “all-improvisational theater group,” according to the group Facebook page.
While many of the scenes acted by the group are comedic, they are not required to be.
“We’re not here just to play for laughs,” the physiology/neurobiology and psychology double major said. “A lot of the things we do get a laugh, but we’re mostly here for being genuine to our characters.”
Moy, a sophomore, joined Erasable Inc last year. She was looking for a casual club to join but instead found a tight-knit community.
“It’s a time commitment but it’s so worth it because the group of people that I’ve met has really become my family,” Moy said. “The way that we hang out outside of rehearsal, it helps us in our rehearsal and in our performance. A lot of what we do is having that groupmind and that trust to catch each other when we fall.”
Comedy requires serious dedication. Erasable Inc. holds rehearsals three times a week, in addition to the weekly Friday shows, said Moy. The group also holds a holiday show each semester, an end-of-semester show in the fall that features long form rather than short games, a joint show with other comedy groups on campus, and a 24-hour show to conclude the year, senior member Brian Lawrence said.
In addition, Inc. has traveled to Chicago every spring break for improv training since approximately 2005, Lawrence said.
“It’s a lot of fun. We go to different theaters… I think they both do classes during the day and it’s a bar at night,” Lawrence, a junior physics and secondary education major, said.
Lawrence auditioned for the group three years ago because he thought it would be an interesting way to exhibit his personality.
“When I do stuff, it’s kind of funny. Like, I’m a goofy guy, I have a unique way about me. The way I talk, the way I move, and the way I think of things, I feel very different,” he said.
Lawrence’s favorite thing about improv is its lack of restrictions. He called it “boundless art.”
“You can really do whatever you want onstage,” he said. “The only person who can limit you is yourself.”
Featured Photo Credit: Erasable Inc. hosts a Halloween show. (Anastasia Kolodziej/Bloc Reporter).
Anastazja Kolodziej is a sophomore journalism and classics major and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.