Series of improv plays captivates audience


CW/ Jacob Arthur

Megan Friend, Contributing Writer

Thirteen plays. Two lab coats. A pineapple. There’s only one event on campus that includes all three: Theatre Roulette. The College of Engineering does Amateur Radical Theatre (CDA) presented its original show last Sunday.

The concept behind Theatre Roulette includes 13 two-minute, student-written plays on a spinning wheel, and the actors won’t stop until they’ve performed each play.

However, the plays don’t always go according to plan. If a play is landed on more than once, it must be performed over again, but with a twist. Modifiers are added to the original play, giving the performance a life of its own.  

“The real experiment in Theatre Roulette isn’t how many shows will get picked,” said Phil DeOliveira, assistant director of Theatre Roulette and head of CDA’s writing committee. “Rather, it’s what happens when you mix scripted and unscripted shows together.”

Part of what makes Theatre Roulette an original concept is that it isn’t strictly a comedy show. Not only did the 13 plays span across genres, there was also an aspect of science and statistics blended into the show. The announcers wore lab coats and ran charts on screens to tell the audience how many plays had been performed, how many were left and how long the actors may be stuck on stage.

Whether it was every cast member piling on stage, each actor having to act as if they were secretly a bear or an actor being replaced by a pineapple, the escalating challenges and improvisation of the cast was what got the biggest laughs from the audience.

“Theatre Roulette was absolutely electrifying,” said Madeleine Spivey, a sophomore majoring in American studies and political science. “I was laughing the entire time and it made me want to immediately join an improv group.”

The cast performing Theatre Roulette shared the crowd’s excitement, even if they didn’t know exactly what they’d be doing throughout the show or how long it would be before they left.

“It’s been amazing,” said Ryan Moreno, a cast member and sophomore majoring in Aerospace Engineering “It’s like a second family, and I would encourage anybody – you don’t even need to be in engineering to join CDA – if you just want to have a good time.”

A crowd favorite of the night was when the wheel finally landed on the last play. Audience and actors looked at each other in joyful disbelief, and the entire theatre erupted in cheers.

“This is a really great experience I think for everyone involved,” said Chase Richardson, head director of Theatre Roulette and CDA treasurer. “It’s full of surprises, and everyone is on the edge of their seat by the end of it.”

In addition to Theatre Roulette, CDA puts on a variety of scripted and improv shows throughout the year.