Meet Seattle U’s Knee-Slapping ‘D1’ Team

If you enjoy sanity, you obviously haven’t been to a D1 Improv show.

For those who don’t know, improvisation—improv for short—is “of-the-moment” action and play. The original improv group, which started about seven years ago, called themselves The Broadway Rejects. The group itself never hosted auditions for new members and stuck primarily with its initial founders, until Jenna Emerson started showing up to practices. After the other members of the group had graduated, Emerson carried on with the improv group.

Emerson decided to hold open auditions, and, with the help of graduate Robert Keene, the two began hosting auditions for the team. The pair received an extra push from professional improv performer and Seattle U graduate student Ben Lidgus, who joined the group in 2010.

Lidgus joined the Seattle professional improv group Jet City Improv when he was only 18 years old, and was able to use his experience to take the Seattle U team to the next level. He began coaching the team and aided the group in their practice and understanding of the popular comedic method.

Along with guidance from Lidgus, the team decided to change their name to D1 Improv in 2011, in accordance with the school’s switch to Division I sports.

D1 member and senior Arica Jeffery, who joined the team in 2011, reflected on Lidgus’ coaching. She said that her “favorite thing Lidgus ever said was the first day of practice: ‘We’re about to take being silly more seriously than you’ve ever taken it before.’”

Jeffery said that the group is usually joined by a group of 120 audience members at their performances. The team, which has grown from three to 13 students in the last few years, aims to demonstrate the importance of the spirit of improv.

“We work really hard to make sure we put on great shows for our awesome audience that is always coming out. We always want to make sure we are practicing at our best so we can perform at our best,” said James Cashman, one of the two rehearsal captains for the team.

D1 Improv previously performed in Wyckoff Auditorium, but was allowed the opportunity to use Pigott Auditorium last year. The group’s end-of-the-year performance this last spring quarter packed the auditorium, which shows how much the group has grown since its establishment and speaks to the popularity of the art form.

D1 Improv looks forward to another year of laughs and performances; the team’s first performance is tonight, Oct. 23, at 7 in Pigott Auditorium.


STUART MCMURRAN

Senior McMurran, one of the team’s rehearsal captains, has been with the group since his freshman year. He wanted to be a part of a competitive and team-oriented activity, despite never taking part in improv.
McMurran explains that improv helps him keep in touch with his imagination and allows him the ability to let out his emotions in a healthy way.


JAMES CASHMAN

Junior Cashman is McMurran’s co-rehearsal captain and has also been a member of the improv group since his freshman year. He was part of an improv team at his high school and decided to continue with it when he
came to college.
He really enjoys his place on a team and his relationships with the other members.
“This is the first time ever, or at least for me, that I’ve been in an environment where everyone is clicking with each other so fast,” he said.


JAKE ALEXANDER

Sophomore Alexander joined the team this year and comes from a theater background. Alexander feels that the team is hilarious and great people to be around; he also feels D1 is laid back, low-stress
and always fresh.
“Our goal is to have fun together on stage and to make people laugh,” said Alexander.


ERIK THORNE

Sophomore Erik Thorne is starting his second year with D1. He performed in high school with a group called Sanguine Humours.
Thorne’s performance strength is playing “the nut” or “the homeless man” on stage because he is committed to the quirky and eccentric demands of such a role.


ARICA JEFFERY

Jeffery has been with D1 since her sophomore year. After enjoying improv in high school, she sought to continue the activity in her
college years.
“It’s really weird,” Jeffery said. “You can have fairies conquering mars in the name of Sauron. That’s happened on stage and to give that a satisfying ending when it’s become so weird is kind of difficult, but that’s what I’m good at.”


BOB BINFORD

Senior Binford joined the team this past year after Cashman, his roommate, got involved. Binford had no experience, but has easily rolled with the punches and understood the importance of being aware of all the other
players on stage.
“It’s like listening to a choir,” said Binford. “You shouldn’t be able to pick out just one voice. It’s all about the team and pushing it forward—you succeed together.”

Veronica Mazzolini

Veronica Mazzolini is a senior English Lit major and French Minor. She has been working at The Spectator for two years. Veronica enjoys reading, and is afraid of gnomes.


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