May 23, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 18

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    Off-Off Campus celebrating first decade with two shows

    Off-Off Campus, the University's improvisational comedy group, will celebrate a decade of producing weekly comedy revues -- making Off-Off Campus the third-longest-running improv show in Chicago -- with its 10th-anniversary reunion shows at Court Theatre on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1.

    At 10 p.m. Friday, May 31, members from all 10 "generations" of Off-Off Campus will perform a fully improvised show, celebrating the University's long tradition of improvised theater. At 9 p.m. Saturday, June 1, the performance will showcase some of the best written material from Off-Off Campus' 28 revues on campus and four revues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

    Coordinated under the auspices of University Theater, Off-Off Campus provides a creative outlet, comic relief and performance opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, alumni and staff members. Its members rotate in and out of a quarterly production schedule, acting, writing, directing and presenting improvisational comedy the way it has been performed here for over 40 years.

    Improvisational comedy began at the University when Mike Nichols, Elaine May, David Shepherd and Paul Sills organized a comedy troupe that came to be known as the Compass Players. The Compass Players sowed fertile comedy ground at the University, and in 1959, Sills, Bernard Sahlins (A.B.'43) and actor Howard Alk reunited members of the old troupe to found The Second City.

    After 30 years of success as artistic director of Second City, Sahlins returned to the University in 1986, when he and Francis Kinahan, then faculty director of University Theater and Associate Professor in English Language & Literature, established Off-Off Campus as a subgroup of UT.

    Returning to Hyde Park for the anniversary shows will be more than 50 of the nearly 100 performers who have been part of Off-Off Campus during the past decade. Many alumni have gone on to work with such comedy troupes and shows as Second City, Annoyance Theater, Improv Olympic, Bang Bang, Glitterball, Boom Chicago, Metraform, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, Avant-Garfield, Sheila, Atomic Pile and Sitcom.

    Tickets for the 10th-anniversary shows can be purchased in advance at the Reynolds Club box office (702-7300) or at the door. Tickets are $7 for the improvised show on May 31 and $10 for the "best of" show on June 1. Discounts are available for seniors and for University students, faculty and staff. For more information, or to charge tickets by phone, call University Theater at 702-3414.