T-Sports faces off against WSU’s Nuthouse despite rowdy crowd

Heckling at show raises concern
by Christina Russell
WHITMAN COLLEGE PIONEER

Last Friday students flocked to Maxey Auditorium, where Whitman’s Theatre Sports troupe faced Washington State’s Nuthouse in a game of improvisation. The evening started like any other T-Sports performance, save for the midnight show time and Washington’s presence on the stage. “No alcohol allowed” signs laced the entrance, but as Whitties piled into the building, an escalation in noise served to expose the state of the audience.

As the show unfolded, talking did not cease and progressed to heckling while Nuthouse was up.

“I remember turning my head more than once to see who could possibly say most of the stuff that was said,” said first-year Nadim Damluji. “I thought I was in a venue with my peers, but I felt alone.”

When Theatre Sports asked for audience participation in a game involving thinking of something you really wouldn’t want to do, Whitties yelled, “Attend Wazzu! Live in Pullman! Be a Coug!” One Nuthouse performer responded, “At least I go to school and won’t end up working at McDonald’s.”

In a statement released by members of Theatre Sports, the team reflected on the evening’s events and said the following: “Friday’s show left a sort of bad taste in our mouths. We did a similar midnight show a couple years back with WSU. The atmosphere for that show was relatively rowdy for the obvious reason that it was a midnight show on a Friday, but we didn’t see nearly the same sort of unpleasant atmosphere we did for this last show.”

WSU anticipated this behavior. In fact, Nuthouse director John Hanus was part of the original group that performed on campus two years ago and knew what to expect. “I sent the five people I did because they are the more aggressive improv players on my team. If Whitman was rowdy I knew they could handle it and would be able to steamroll through all of them.” WSU had approached Whitman to do this performance, in an attempt to “strengthen relations and connect eastern Washington,” said Hanus.

Nuthouse players were ready for the criticism but felt that their performance was impacted. “I don’t mind being a kind of sacrificial lamb once in a while, I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” said Nuthouse member Jared Chastain. Chastain acknowledged what was at the core of a lot of criticism that WSU received that night: “Players that were the most vulgar were definitely from Pullman. I know those players very well; they aren’t like that at home. I could tell they were nervous.”

While the WSU audience sat “very attentive” according to Chastain, Whitman was “more like a video game, really interactive. That startled the players.” One player, Chris Hayes, said that he “noticed there were a lot of people in the audience ‘shooshing’ the hecklers,” exposing the dichotomous nature of audience members. “We were told Whitman gets competitive,” said Hayes.

Theatre Sports has considered never hosting an event of this nature again because of last Friday night.

“We’re not sure what made this show different, but in the future when we do competitive shows with teams from other schools, they won’t take place on a weekend night and they will definitely be much earlier. This kind of show at a late hour clearly doesn’t foster the best audience-performer relationship. There was a certain level of vulgarity that should remain intolerable.”

Theatre Sports has been apologetic for what happened. “We sincerely apologize to anyone who had an unpleasant experience, and we hope to use the semester’s last show to make it up to you.”

T-Sports will tentatively be holding a long-form show in Kimball on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. The show will be entitled “Theatre Sports gets clean.”

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “T-Sports faces off against WSU’s Nuthouse despite rowdy crowd

  1. okay, so, I was reading this and I thought to myself, I am a little apalled at what happened in this show. I wasn’t there, but reading this I am a little saddened. As a founding member of Nuthouse, I want to tell all the participants in the theater sports game at whatever school you are in, to not give up on the midnight shows. But remember the rules, don’t hit below the belt. If you didn’t know the rules DON’T HIT BELOW THE BELT. When the kids get hit the parents get mad, (if you know what I’m saying.) If you think of it like this – competition is good when its clean, when you fight dirty, everyone gets hurt and bad publicity is … well, not good and it can kill what at one time was a fun experience. I don’t want to be the mom but just to clear this up. What ever happened, it was because the team unfortunately was not prepared for it, and for some reason, the control got away from the actors. Each team, should do a midnight show at least once a semester, maybe every other month on a 2 show night, to get used to the heckling, so it’s not a surprise. Heckling is part of being in improv theater, if you think it isn’t – you’re just not paying attention. Drunk people are like 5 year olds – they have no interior monologue-its true, just look around the bar next time you’re out. I don’t care what city or college you are at. So, if you’re on stage, you are in control, not the other way around. Okay grasshopper, get back to the gym and get back on the stage!! Gym will clear your mind, stage will loosen your tongue for more entertaining activities. Feel free to comment to me at http://www.myspace.com/barbtidlytastic . Please be aware that I mean no disrespect to your Whitman student body at all, WSU shows are with drunk audiences all the time. Been there, done that 🙂 ~ Barbra
    p.s. that’s why i was like WTF??? LOL

  2. Jared Chastain

    It was a great show. Nuthouse is even better now for it. You helped us in a lot of ways. Thanks Whitman!

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