Throughout the semester, Subject to Change (STC), the university’s improvisational comedy troupe, has been hosting 11pm shows in the Stern Quad on the first Wednesday of every month. Due to the cold temperatures, this final December quad show was held in Jepson 118 in order to accommodate the crowd, though this did remove the usual “roundabout” staging. I was surprised at the turnout, considering the stress of finals week and the cold temperatures, though it seemed like many in attendance were there for a study break. Generally, the audience for their shows is comprised of students from many different clubs and friend groups, as was the case for this show.

Of course, with any improv comedy, audience participation is a large part of the performance. We made a few suggestions for emotions and situations to be used throughout the show, and they did take one of our suggestions: “itchy”. STC’s performances usually include various games with a few of the group’s members. One such game included two comedians in a scene, though the performance area was split up into “emotional zones” of “jealous”, “agitated”, “itchy”, and “elated”. As the scene progressed, some of the lines stated throughout the scene elicited an uproar of laughter from the audience, which at this point in the show had almost filled the room. While most of the jokes throughout the show elicited some giggles from the audience, much of the physical comedy drew laughs from the crowd, as many of the groups’ members are known for their physical comedy.

One game consisted of a talk-show style panel on the topic of shoelaces, though the panelists’ arms were actually those of another comedians, as the panelists tucked their arms behind their backs. Of course, this created a great opportunity for more physical comedy, with one set of arms even managing to put Chapstick on her panelist. However, as the scene began to drag on, some of the comedians who were not immediately involved in the scene entered the audience in order to pose questions of the panelists. Their creative questions effectively reignited the scene, allowing the panelists to finish out the game strong.

Generally, STC organizes their audience participation into suggestion cards before the show begins. As each scene develops naturally under the creativity of each of the comedians, the audience’s response guides where the comedians go next. Some comedians will even break the fourth wall and appeal directly to the audience if they feel their joke unjustly flopped, or to relay their shock in the audience’s twisted sense of humor. Even though this was the last show of the semester in a different setting than usual, audience support and participation, through both direct suggestions and laughter, brought the energy that finals week at UR was missing.

As an avid Harry Potter fan, I was excited to see the second installment of the new series of films set up as a precursor to the novels. The first Fantastic Beasts film provided a new and interesting plot line, with many of the same quirks from the original novels and their film adaptations. However, I was a bit disappointed in this film, as far as plot progression, character development, and a lack of fantastic beasts. More importantly, I believe the audience at Bowtie Cinemas felt the same way.

It is important to note that no one in the audience of this Saturday 7pm showing of the film was under the age of 16. Frankly, some of the parents there with their teenage children seemed more excited for the film than the young adults they were with. We sat near an older couple, and a few other college-aged couples as well. The audience was largely adult, with the exception of a few groups of teenagers (sometimes with their parents tagging along). This age range seems representative of those who have read the original Harry Potter novels, as we discussed with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As the audience was skewed more toward a young adult and middle-aged crowd, the film seemed to reflect this demographic as well.

As I mentioned before, I was disappointed in the lack of plot and character development in this film as compared to the original series and the first film in this series. I did note that the plot in this film made heavy references to modern supremacist movements and relationship dynamics that apply to teenage generations and older. Without giving much away, the plot followed a similar line as movements we may see on the news, which led me to believe that this series was directed more at young adults, including the now grown children to which J.K. Rowling initially tailored her novels (including myself). Much of the character dynamics were violent, though often this violence wasn’t fully explained or justified through the plot, hence my disappointment. Additionally, only one new fantastic beast was introduced, which again seemed disappointing, considering the title of the series.

Though the film included a few cute or funny moments, the audience did not respond much. Despite a few chuckles or gasps here or there, the audience remained largely silent and still. Perhaps this was due to the age of the audience, or the shared disappointment in the film. Either way, this film presents an interesting look on the demographic to which this series is aimed, and that demographic’s response.

This semester, The University of Richmond Department of Theatre and Dance performed Antigone, a play within the Oedipus cycle which we touched on in class. Having recently read Oedipus Rex, I already had a better understanding of the nuances of the plot and character dynamics. This helped tremendously, as I could tell many of the other audience members were confused by the motivations of the characters.

Because the show had a very short run in a theater as small as the Cousins Studio Theatre, all of the tickets for the weekend were sold out. Fortunately, I have a few friends who were in the production, and I was allowed to join the audience of Theatre Appreciation students for the cast’s Tuesday night dress rehearsal. Though the performance was superb for a dress rehearsal early in tech week, the audience was a bit lacking.

Frankly, many students take classes similar to Theatre Appreciation in order to fulfill the Visual and Performing Arts general education credit, and they don’t necessarily genuinely appreciate theatre. Most of the students in the audience appeared bored as they wrote down a note or two every so often. As one of the few audience members genuinely interested in the production outside of class, I was disheartened to see so many yawns, including one man who appeared to fall asleep at one point.

Admittedly, ancient Greek plays translated into formal language don’t provide the most lively performances. However, as the play progressed and the actors portrayed their characters’ struggles more and more vehemently, I noticed some audience members begin to lean in and listen more intently. The man who fell asleep finally woke up during Tiresias’ warning to Creon, which was satisfying, considering the friend who had secured me a seat at the early performance played Tiresias. As the play grew more and more dramatic, plot lines were clarified, and motivations revealed, the audience grew more and more interested. At the end of the performance, the students in the audience seemed impressed with the production’s dramatics and the actors’ talent.