April 30, 2008

A History: Exit 16

As told by Trish Berrong. This will all make sense by the end of the week, just enjoy the history for now loyal reader.

Rich Brown, theater teacher, started Libery High School's Exit 16 (pronounced one-six, not sixteen) in the fall of '97 to join the now-defunct Kansas City High School Improv League (which, not at all coincidentally, was run by current coach Trish Berrong).

Rich was a big believer in improv as a tool for "traditional" theater--but also as an art form on its own. He wanted to offer performance options for students who weren't interested in scripted theater.
The first group featured Cassie Ash, Mike Blodgett, Garrett Brown, Al Bush, Dara Knealey, Brandon Morgan, Steve Parrish, Channing Johnson and Tommy Todd. They played students from Winnetonka, Oak Park, Center, Shawnee Mission North and Hickman Mills, ultimately winning the KC High School Improv League Championship in the spring of 1998. (They also won the League Spirit Award.)

Exit 16 also began performing for standing-room-only crowds at the high school. The group's entire budget comes from ticket sales; profits have always gone back to the troupe for more training.

In 1999, Exit 16 started making annual trips to Chicago. They've studied with ImprovOlympic's Charna Halpern, Miles Stroth and Christina Gausas; Annoyance Productions' Mick Napier, Joe Bill, Susan Messing and Mark Sutton; Improv Inferno's Dan Izzo; Second City/IO's TJJagodowski; and Tim Mason, a former KC resident and member of the Second City E.T.C. Stage.

Exit 16's annual reunion show, held in December when recent alums are home from college, expanded last year to two shows and, for the first time, featured a second half directed by alum Tommy Todd.

The logo was designed by BJ Snowpeck, and made its first appearance on T-shirts Rich presented to the group to wear in the Kansas City High School Improv League championship.

Below: A photo album of the performers and alum of Exit 16.

1 comment:

Trish Berrong said...

If you look closely at a few of those pics, you'll see Ashley (CCC) and Clay, Drew and Rene (Scriptease) when they were fresh-faced youngsters.