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The Second City hosts workshops at Blinn’s Brenham, Bryan campuses

Chicago-based troupe teaches improvisational techniques to Blinn students, faculty

March 10, 2017

A chance meeting with a former student in a New York City coffee shop turned into a rare opportunity to bring the world-renowned improvisational comedy troupe, The Second City, to Blinn College.

Thanks to the effort and dedication of Technical Theatre Director Kevin Patrick, more than 200 Blinn students and faculty – including 30 visiting high school students – participated in nine different workshops hosted by members of the Chicago-based touring company on the College’s Brenham and Bryan campuses. Participants were taught various techniques to develop improvisational skills that can be used on the stage or in the classroom.

“This was a unique opportunity, and I am appreciative that I received the support from Blinn to make it happen,” Patrick said. “The students and faculty were excited before, during, and after the workshops, and the troupe was very impressed with the level of participation and engagement.”

Premiering in 1959, The Second City is an improvisational comedy enterprise based in Chicago, with additional programs running out of Toronto and Los Angeles. In addition to live and televised performances, the group tours the country, hosting demonstrations and workshops at various venues.

Spotting an available date in the troupe’s tour schedule in Texas, Patrick used his connections with Adam Archer, a former student and current member of The Second City, to bring the group to Blinn’s campuses. Workshops hosted at Blinn included performances in front of a private audience, professional development for faculty, and trainings for the general public.

“It was very exciting that the troupe was able to visit Blinn since most students do not have the opportunity to travel and take one of their classes,” Blinn theatre student Cherilyn Kubicek said. “We learned various group exercises with the purpose of making everyone comfortable with each other. One of the most important aspects of theater is being comfortable and relaxed while on stage.”

Members of The Second City used a variety of methods to convey their exercises, including verbal performances and physical interaction between classmates.

“Many of the exercises have shown us how we can respond in a way that promotes positive conversation and creates an environment where ideas can be exchanged freely,” said Caryn Hawkins, Assistant Director of Academic Advising and Counseling. “I can now take what I have learned and apply it to my daily group discussions and presentations.”

Blinn also hosted a theater class from Langham Creek High School in Houston – taught by a Blinn Theatre Program alumnus – to participate in The Second City workshops.

“Not only were we able to provide an excellent experience for current students and faculty, this was a great recruitment opportunity to allow prospective students to tour the Blinn campus,” Patrick said. “Overall, The Second City’s visits to Blinn worked out beautifully.”