A Funny Family: Meet Dominican’s Noise From The Basement Improv Team

April 5, 2016

By Melissa Rohman

Dominican’s Noise from the Basement Improv team won third out of 32 teams from across the Chicagoland area and Midwest region at the College Improv Tournament two weeks ago and they were humbled to say the least. Some members were teary eyed and others were overjoyed but overall the entire team was “just happy to be at the competition”.

The group of eight jokesters and comedians, who range from freshmen to seniors and are majoring in everything from apparel design to neuroscience, are more than just a team. This improv family is not afraid to bring on the weird.

Co-captains senior Rosa Terracciano (referred to by the team as mom) and senior Axel Vargas-Irlanda (referred to by the team as dad) explain that the team dynamic this year is drastically different.

Team members include: freshman Emily Bochniak, freshman Shannon Wilcox, sophomore Hayley Nebrig, sophomore Tim Piotrkowski, junior Gaby Faloona, senior Axel Vargas-Irlanda, senior Rosa Terracciano and senior Erik Virden.

Terracciano and Vergas-Irlanda believe that their team’s unique dynamic is what makes them so strong.

“It’s the fact that we can do crazy things and laugh about it,” Terracciano said.

This is the first year Terracciano and Vargas are co-captaining the improv team. According to Vargas-Irlanda, everyone on the team is differently skilled, with some members who have zero improv and/or theatre experience and others who have a lot of improv and/or theatre experience.

“This group is more like we are all weird together and we all know what each other’s funny is,” Terracciano said. “We’re just an odd group and we have finally found what we agree can be an okay weird. We’re totally supportive of each other.”

The team’s funny and functionally weird family dynamic has helped the team grow during rehearsals to improve their long form improv techniques. Long form improv, unlike its opposite short form improv, involves the team taking a suggestion from the audience and then generating ideas off each team member to make the scene work for a certain amount of time.

To warm up, the team will get in circle, look at each other’s faces and make intense eye contact. The biggest thing the team has committed to this year is improving eye contact, communication and physical comfort.

“We do things specifically during warm-ups to get to know each other so when we are in a scene we are connected we can go with things and not combat each other,” said team member sophomore Hayley Nebrig.
Thanks to coaches Jared Miller and Dominican’s Performing Arts Center Box Office Manager Patrick Serrano, the team has dedicated a lot of time to team bonding and becoming emotionally comfortable with each other.

“We’ve grown a lot and it helps that we have two coaches who have really invested a lot of their time in us this year,” Nebrig said.

The improv family held auditions at the beginning of this year in order to put together their team. Vargas-Irlanda explains that those who make it on the team are based off what the teams needs and whoever is having fun.

“We want people who can also be our friends, because it’s a family,” Vargas-Irlanda said.

Having been through numerous teams and coaches since joining the team her freshman year, junior Gabby Faloona explained that she is grateful the team has gotten to this point.

“The hardest thing for me this year has been getting to this point and group dynamic,” Faloona said. “But now we’re here and we are a team and that’s really special.”

Freshman Emily Bochniak explains what her experience was like coming onto the team as both a newcomer to improv and a newcomer to college.

“At first I was like this is going to be hard because I have to learn so much, there’s different techniques, I didn’t know anyone and I was one of the awkward freshman and everyone was older than us,” Bochniak said. “But throughout the year, we have become family.”

Freshman Shannon Wilcox did improv in high school, so it was interesting for her to see the transition.

According to Wilcox, the hardest and best thing the team has helped accomplish this year was to help her break out of her shell.

Yet the hardest thing for the senior co-captains will have to leave the team by the end of this year.

“The hardest thing about this year will be letting go of the team from this year and after Axel and I leave, wondering what’s going to happen to the team,” Terracciano said.

Noise from the Basement rehearses Saturdays from noon-2pm at Dominican. On Thursdays, catch the team performing at pH comedy theatre in Andersonville on Thursday nights at 10pm. Student tickets are $5 and is BYOB (“bring your own boats”).