Student prepares improv team for Fringe Festival performance

Student Spotlight
Andrew Ahlquist, fourth-year game design and development

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Andrew Ahlquist (green shirt) and his improv team, The Improvessionals, will take the stage at the Little Theatre Saturday night as part of the RIT Improv set at the Fringe Festival.

Andrew Ahlquist, a fourth-year game design and development student, will be performing with his team, The Improvessionals, as part of the RIT Improv set at the Fringe Festival from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. As the leader of the improv team, he comes up with new set ideas for upcoming shows and runs weekly practices. The Hatfield, Pa., native is also treasurer for the RIT Improv club and student manager at The Commons.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: I was really indecisive coming out of high school. I was thinking about going to Full Sail University because they came to my school and offered a two-year intensive program for game design. However, my mom convinced me to come to RIT because they are one of the top schools for game design and she wanted me to have the full college experience. So I threw my eggs all in one basket and applied for early decision and got accepted.

Q: Why did you decide to major in game design and development?
A: When I was a kid, I played a lot of video games so I thought it would be a good fit for me.

Q: What is The Improvessionals?
A: BrainWreck Improv and The Improvessionals are the two oldest improv groups in the club. My team is focused on blending improv technique with experimentation. Right now the group is more freeform and we just try to pick an idea and make something out of it. We recently made up a set called detective where a host invites a bunch of people to come to a place and then the host dies and the detective tries to solve the murder. We also created a choose your own adventure set where we pull members from the audience, explain two routes and ask them what one we should take.

Q: How did you become a member of the team?
A: During winter quarter of my freshman year, one of my friends on my floor asked if I wanted to go to an improv workshop. I went to the workshop and did a scene about drugs at the end with one of the members of the club. After the workshop, the team was holding auditions so I stuck around and auditioned and got on the team.

Q: What is your favorite part about improv?
A: The reason why I love doing improv so much is because it’s freeing. You just get up there and have fun with people you enjoy. I didn’t have a social life until I joined the club. Since then I have met some of the greatest friends I’ll ever have.

Q: How did you end up getting a performance spot at the Fringe Festival?
A: Last year RIT Improv, which is composed of three teams, had a three-hour set as a whole and my team was a part of it. It was a fun experience so we decided to do it again this year.

Q: What set will you perform?
A: We are going to do the choose-your-own-adventure style. Each team gets a half hour to perform their set and at the end we pick a couple people from each team and do a jam together.

Q: What does the opportunity mean to your team?
A: It’s cool to get the opportunity to perform outside of RIT. We mainly do shows for RIT students so it’s exciting to have a different audience and get our name out there. I have been with RIT Improv for four years so it would be cool to get some recognition outside of the school. Last year we had an older crowd that stayed for the entire three-hour set.

Q: Do you have any advice for students interested in improv?
A: Go to workshops and get involved. A lot of people are scared of improv because they think it’s intimidating and hard which is what I try to alleviate when I teach workshops. Once you understand what improv is it’s so easy and fun.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I plan to move out to Los Angeles and look around for some improv theaters. I really want to get into making TV shows and movies so improv definitely helps with that.

Traci Turner compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at with suggestions.