Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


Capital City Improv To Hold Auditions for New Members

Photo credit: Capital City Improv. From L to R (Carla Wilson and Lacey Shiffer with two audience members)

Usually, when someone makes a scene, it is a bad thing, but with Capital City Improv (CCI), making a scene is the goal. The troupe of theatrical jokesters is looking for new members. They will hold auditions on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 10 a.m. at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. CCI has a residency at the Hoogland, where they regularly run shows, attempting to make humor happen without a net.

CCI specializes in tickling funny bones with short-form improv and sketch comedy. Short-form improv mostly consists of games you might have seen on Whose Line Is It Anyway?. These games can lead to unforgettable moments of wit that keeps the audience and the performers on their tippy toes. Sketch comedy contains written material and is similar to what you might see on Saturday Night Live.

Carla Wilson has been a member of the troupe for five years. “The thing I love about improv is that it’s mental playtime. I think no matter where you are in life and what you do for a day job, it’s time to go and just explore that creative, leave your problems at the door side of yourself,” Wilson said.

Wilson works in many aspects of theater. She consistently acts in projects at The Muni and with the Springfield Theater Company. She also has a long history of improv work, including a stint working at the famed Second City in Chicago.  Wilson’s experience has made her the comedic den mother of CCI, carving out comedic quips with her razor-sharp wit.

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The task of lacking written material may daunt a person looking to audition, but there are exercises to gain experience in improv that also help in everyday life. “We do a really simple exercise about eating soup. You smell the soup, you stir the soup, but what you’re actually doing is getting everyone to still their breathing,” Wilson said. “This is a great anxiety exercise for short-term just to take a moment and stop.”

CCI started over six years ago, in January 2017. The group has endured member changes and even a pandemic. The experiences of the troupe are varied, with some members having little to no experience, some holding experience in theater, and others performing stand-up comedy. The one thread between the comedically capable creatives has been their ability to improvise as a team.

“You really have to work well with others in a team,” CCI member Lacey Shiffer said. “You have to listen because if you’re in a scene with people who aren’t listening to what you are saying, that can just derail the whole thing, and it just goes downhill.”

Shiffer’s journey to join the group felt logical because she was regularly being cast in theatrical, funny sidekick roles. She decided to join CCI after going to a workshop. The group still offers workshops on the third Thursday of each month for those wanting to dip their toes in improvisational waters. Shiffer credits her prior theater work for helping her come out of her shell. She believes that improv has also helped her life by giving her the ability to deal with changes.

“Doing improv is so different because you have to think on your toes. You have to work with people and put trust in people. That really helps, all of those skills, not just as a performer but in life,” Shiffer said. “Being able to go with the flow when things change in the work environment or even your life environment helps you be a better active listener.”

The next show for CCI will be at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on March 25 at 7 p.m. The upcoming March event is a family-friendly all-ages show. If you want to sign up for the workshop or audition, you can message Capital City Improv on their Facebook page.

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