Last Friday night, approximately 50 Swarthmore students flocked to Kitao Gallery to see Vertigo-go perform an improv comedy show. The room was overflowing with audience members. The show, which began at 8:00pm, was standing room only.
Vertigo-go is Swarthmore’s only improv group, and has been active on campus since 1989. Its current members are John Wojciehowski ’19, Simon Bloch ’17, Raven Bennett ’17, David Levy ’18, Arijit Nerurkar ’19, Derek Graves ’18, Michaela Shuchman ’16, Gibson Cook ’16, Cosmo Alto ’16, and Suness Jones ’16. Vertigo-go has performed in a variety of buildings on the campus, but also at Haverford College, the Arts Festival at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and The People’s Improv Theatre in New York City.
During the show, Vertigo-go members played improv games and each member got a chance to perform. They opened with a game called Ding, in which, when a group member shouts “Ding,” the person talking must change the word they just said to a different, rhyming word. They also played a game called Triple Fantasy, where three characters would act out the same scene multiple times, each time from a different character’s perspective. The last game they played was called Harold. In Harold, an audience member yells out a random word (in this case, the word was “Jello”). Then the actors talk about Jello and finish by doing a series of skits inspired by the topic.
The actors in Vertigo-go were pleased with the show and excited to have performed in Kitao Gallery. David Levy ’18 expressed positive feelings toward the show and noted how different spaces are conducive to different types of performances.
“Sometimes there is a different dynamic depending on the environment. It was a good show, and I’m super proud of my group. There were so many great moments,” Levy said.
Simon Bloch ’17 has been a member of Vertigo-go since his freshman year. He believes that the group has changed a lot and become more focused and self reflexive. Bloch was particularly pleased with the audience and the space.
“Improv is very connected and dependent on the audience. They were really fun, very patient and silly,” Bloch said.
Raven Bennett ’17 has also been in Vertigo-go since her freshman year. For Bennett, the highlights of the show were the improv games and the audience.
“I think the show went pretty well,” Bennett said. “The audience was really responsive. It was packed. There were a lot of people there.”
Bennett, Bloch, and Levy all stated that they would definitely like to perform in Kitao again, and many of the audience members were glad that Kitao hosted the event. Max Markel ‘19 went to the show to see his friends perform and was appreciative of the group dynamic.
“I’m always struck by the ping pong creativity,” Markel said of the show.
Kyung Min ’18 learned about the show through a Facebook event page. It was his first time seeing Vertigo-go perform.
“I’m not a huge fan of improv. I guess I never expected that much, but this was pretty good. I would definitely go see them again,” Min said. “I admire them for having the courage to go up there and make themselves vulnerable like that.”
Min was enthusiastic about the prospect of Kitao hosting more Friday night events.
“It’s a very intimate space,” Min said. “I love Kitao. It’s really good to have since we usually have so few events on Friday.”
Both audience members and performers acknowledged the unique atmosphere that Kitao provides for performance events.
Bloch reflected on Kitao,“It had the focus of Sci and the intimacy of Olde Club.”
Vertigo-go will perform their next show in the Science Center again on Saturday, February 13.