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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Go to student events

You might even enjoy yourself if you’re not careful
Students+sing+the+war+hymn+at+The+Big+Event+Ceremony+on+Saturday%2C+Mar+23%2C+2024.+%28Hannah+Harrison%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Hannah Harrison
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I have been a two-percenter. Not only that, but I’ve also shirked my duty to support my fellow Aggies, and I bet you have, too.

I’m talking about student events. Go to them!

What do I mean by student events? I’m talking about creative endeavors. Performances of incredible skill. Orchestra performances, theatre, choir concerts, student boxing matches. All of the above.

I’ll give you an example of my own shortcomings. I’ve been at Texas A&M for three years now and went to my first Freudian Slip show only last week. For those of you unaware, they’re A&M’s student improvisational comedy troupe. 

Sadly, I didn’t have the excuse of ignorance. I knew they existed, but I waffled around about ever going to a show because, in my head, I was thinking, “Oh, it’s just a college improv group. They’re probably not that good.” Boy howdy, was I wrong.

Ags, let me tell you: they killed it. Part of the reason for their success — and the audience’s experience — is the audience itself. Improv comedy is strongly crowd-based, so a good turnout is both helpful to them as performers and good for the overall show experience. In fact, several of their games even include the audience as participants, whether in a direct role or as a judge.

But audiences aren’t just useful to improv groups. Alpha Psi Omega, or APO, a national theatre honor society with a healthy A&M chapter, is similarly crowd-dependent. APO puts on several performances every semester, with a special collection of Student New Works — plays written, directed and cast by students — that show in the spring.

Michael Flores is a current member of APO and playwright, director and caster for the play “An Interview with Chet Gepetty.” According to Flores, the success of such student-led performances hinges significantly on audience engagement — particularly with comedic productions.

“The audience laughing is a huge contributing factor,” Flores said. “It’s like a signal to the performers that what they’re doing is working, encouraging them to play it up even more.

“During rehearsals, [the actors] may be thinking, ‘I have no idea what I’m doing,” Flores said. “This feels terrible,’ but when there’s an actual audience, a switch flips on and they’re suddenly the best actor I’ve ever seen.”

This transformation, as Flores describes it, is not just about actors delivering their lines but also about the audience’s response. Particularly with improvisation — featured both in plays like “An Interview with Chet Gepetty” and improv groups like Freudian Slip — audience interaction is a must.

“‘Chet Gepetty’ had a bit of improv comedy in it, so if [the actors] didn’t get the line they would do an ad lib, and that can usually have a funny moment,” Flores said. “When you’re rehearsing, you have no idea what they’re going to find funny.”

Clearly, audiences play a huge role in comedic performances, but their presence can enhance even orchestral productions.

Andres Quesada, cellist in A&M’s Philharmonic Orchestra, further highlights the importance of audience participation.

“The crowd makes it fun, and the more people there are, the more fun it is,” Quesada said. “Playing for a purpose is better than just playing for fun, and the audience gives you the opportunity to help somebody enjoy something. You enjoy it, they enjoy it, and it’s just great.”

It’s just like sports, or anything else performed in front of a crowd. If you put all this work into perfecting something — a play, musical or your piece of an orchestral or choral concert — the payoff is amplified if there are people who watch and enjoy it as much as you enjoyed performing it.

In everything from improv comedy to theatre to orchestra, the audience is a vital part of the experience.

I would hazard a guess that anyone without friends or family in A&M’s choirs and orchestras have never gone to see a performance. What’s stopping you?

The Singing Cadets, the Philharmonic Orchestra, APO, Freudian Slip — Aggies are doing incredible things all across campus. It’s up to the rest of us to go support them and share in their enjoyment of the arts.

Supporting your fellow Aggies is redass. And who knows? You might even enjoy it.

Charis Adkins is an English junior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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Charis Adkins, Opinion Columnist
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