Heart and Hilarity

Harlequin players put on an immersive improv performance, displaying their talent and wit on stage for the first time this year.

The theater department at Eaglecrest undoubtedly works hard – and none more so than the Harlequin Players, who are a group of the top performers whose hard work and stage presence landed them a spot in such a top group. As part of this class, the members participated in an improv show on Tuesday, September 28th. Although an improvised performance, the players still prepared for it.  

“The first thing that went into preparation was learning the difference between short and long-form improv,” senior Dario Correa said, who became a member as a junior, in 2020. “We spent a good amount of time learning and practicing both, and overtime we began learning more towards a short form-heavy show.” Once the type of improv was decided, the members were able to practice various improv scene types.

“After learning the 20 different games, we got to select our favorites and just play the same scene structure over and over again, but with different audience suggestions preparing us for the unexpected,” Katelyn Urbanski, another senior Harlequin Player, explained. 

Senior Katelyn Urbanski (left) performs an improvised conversation with Spencer Thorpe using audience suggestions written on cards before the show. (Simone Beauchamp)

“We didn’t know what we’d be playing in the show, so we practiced everything with everyone,” added Sabrina Patten. “So much of it was getting the feel for our scene partners so that we could work well together.” As actors worked out chemistry and improv skills on stage, behind the scenes the tech crew members worked to figure out set design, props, lighting and sound in order to create a smooth show. After the previous year, which consisted of very few theater performances due to Covid restrictions, getting to host an improv show was soon a welcome relief.

“My favorite part of the show was interacting with a live audience. It’s been so long since any of us have performed with an audience and they brought such an amazing energy. It’s hard to explain, but a wonderful or terrible audience can change the entire show,” said Patten. “Playing those games on your own is fine, but there’s something magical about playing them with an audience.” The improv show – a blast for both actors and audience members – was a new concept for the Harlequin Players. The inception of the idea? Credit goes to new theatre teacher Eric Eidson. 

“The very first day of class, Mr. Eidson shared his ideas with us for possible new productions that the Harlequin Players could put on. One of the options he mentioned was an improv show,” said Urbanski. 

“He brought us donuts, sat us down, and discussed alternative options for our fall production,” said Patten. “We were all pretty hesitant to let go of the idea of a fall play, but we are all pretty happy with what we got in the end.” Correa agrees, explaining that while the change was scary at first, the show became an idea the group fell in love with and committed to. And when Harlequin Players commit, they truly commit; they pour their hearts and souls into their work. “While we may seem light-hearted on stage, we’re all very serious about our craft,” Correa said. 

“Harlequin requires you to come with nothing but your best, and entails a lot of hard work in, and outside of school,” Patten said. She also notes the months spent rehearsing – inside and outside school hours. Though the work is hard and often time-consuming, it can also be considerable fun, especially because of how committed the players are to their craft.

Actors Josh Wallace, DJ Allen, Sabrina Patten, and William Hnatik take part in an improv scenario as their castmates look on in surprise. (Simone Beauchamp)

“Everyone in Harlequin loves comedy and we’re always joking around with each other,” said Urbanski. “So we knew improv was a skill we wanted to learn and perform for others.” It seems they succeeded: the improv show was met with plenty of applause and congratulations. Perhaps what made the show most enjoyable, however, was its relaxed setting.

“The unexpectedness of every scene was so exciting because you never knew what was going to happen,” said Urbanski. “But it also created a weird, comforting environment between actors and the audience because everyone understood how fun improv could be, and there were no standards or expectations that we had to fill.” While the lack of ability for preparation made her nervous, Urbanski overall noted her love for putting on such a unique show. 

“I enjoyed everything so much, and had a blast both performing and watching my peers,” said Correa. “In general, there’s really no better feeling than saying or doing something, and hearing everyone laugh.” Laughter was abundant, echoing around the theater like a laugh track of cheesy but lovable sitcoms – undoubtedly a good sign for the show.

“Being part of Harlequin is a highlight of my high school career because of all of the opportunities and connections it’s allowed me to receive. The best part about Harlequin is that everyone is in the class for the same reason: theatre is a passion,” Urbanski explained. Being a Harlequin Player means you have to be ready to take a risk and try something new, and be able to be our best selves in a safe, judgement-free zone.” The group, however, also allows its members to build their own version of family.


Harlequin Players (left to right) DJ Allen, Dario Correa, and Chelsea Assibey close out the show with a spirited rap battle. (Simone Beauchamp)

“From our relationships with each other to our relationship with us and Mr. Edison and Mrs. Miller, we all genuinely feel a part of a whole, which is so refreshing considering how divided everything was last year,” said Correa. For many Eaglecrest theatre members, last year was difficult because of the lack of performances and accompanying isolation. Though some sports were able to have a season, theatre, for the most part, remained restricted.

“Most of us had, for lack of better words, crises of faith last year when theatre was completely canceled, but Harlequin reminded us of why we do what we do,” said Patten. For her, being a Harlequin Player seemed unattainable, as she explained. But since she’s become one, she explained that the vast mutual support and encouragement between the members is what allows all of them to grow and explore their various talents alongside one another. For Urbanski and Correa, who both dreamed of ending up in Harlequin since their freshman year, the familial atmosphere of Harlequin is also what stands out to them most.

“Spending so much time together and working on projects together creates bonds and our own mini family, and it’s honestly my favorite part about Harlequin,” said Urbanski.