“Count them in 3, 2, 1 … *clap*,” the scene leader announces to the crowd as a few actors take the stage to perform their improvisation, from which much of the context is compiled from the audience’s ideas.

The Roial Players is a studentled theatre group at Michigan State University. It was started in 2005 by various Arts and Humanities students and dedicated to the art of theatre without requiring the students to commit to a theatre major.

Lives of Saints performance. Photo by Elsa Finch.
Lives of Saints performance. Photo by Elsa Finch.

The spelling of Roial was originally an acronym for a College of Arts & Letters program (Residential Option in Arts and Letters). After the program was disbanded, a few students continued it as a group and joined together with the Residential College of Arts and Humanities (RCAH). It was only three or four years ago that they dropped the acronym and changed the name to the Roial Players.

The Roial’s Treasurer Marcus Fields said, “Working on productions with Roial is so much fun, because students get to handle every aspect of the production including writing, booking rehearsal space, casting, rehearsing, set design and construction, developing marketing strategies, costume and makeup design, filming promotional videos, etc.

“There’s always an opportunity to learn a new skill alongside someone else and have fun at the same time. Every show is unique, having been developed from the collaborative efforts of many creative individuals fulfilling all of the roles necessary to produce a theater production.”

Since it began, it has become a more comprehensive performing arts group with many different components, which includes their monthly improv shows, as well as four full length performances per year.

The group’s full length performances consist of compilations of one acts and a Creative Showcase talent show. The improv shows occur once a month, including one that will be performed on Feb. 27 at 9:00 p.m. at the RCAH Theater, located in the basement of Snyder-Phillips Hall. The theme of this production is “Roial Rumble,” in which Notre Dame’s Humor Artists will be joining them on stage. The improv performances are very audiencebased and work straight from words or ideas that are either shouted out or written down.

Along with their live performances, the group has their own film division, writers club, and a makeup, hair and stage management team.

“We’re proud of the fact that we are able to offer so many opportunities to so many different types of people, especially just as students,” said Lauren Gaynor, executive director of Roial Players.

A few weeks ago, the group produced a show called Dog Sees God, a parody of the Peanuts comics. The show followed the characters throughout high school. The performance was aimed more toward the mature audiences, but it was “fun and extremely quirky,” according to Gaynor.

Roial Players is open to any Michigan State University registered student. There are many meetings throughout the year.

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