Entertainment, Not Perfection: Wizards and Stand-Up Comedy in Spring DramaLabs Performance

As Pragus the Illuminator, played by Owen Cheng ’23, yelled, “Illuminate!”, blinding lights swept the stage and a crack of thunder burst through the room. With a loud “Stop!” the lights dimmed as Cheng lowered his staff and ran on stage. The rest of the wizarding team stumbled from behind the curtains while Taylor the Pantless, played by Nick Liu ’23, fell to the stage in tears.

Held on Friday evening at George Washington Hall’s Theater Classroom, last week’s DramaLabs featured two short skits and a stand-up comedy act by EV Heck ’25. A regular attendee of DramaLabs performances, Sebastian Lemberger ’25 highlighted the interactivity of the actors with the audience.

“I thought the performance was very entertaining, albeit occasionally out-of-pocket and chaotic. I was very entertained… There’s also an audience activity in this one, which is new… It was an improvisation game, like charades. Someone had to pretend to be something and others would try to guess what it was,” said Lemberger.

Heck discussed how her comedy performance allowed her to establish connections between her character and her personal experiences with the Andover community. Additionally, Heck touched on the messages she wished to convey to the audience.

“I tried to convey a kind of message that your story doesn’t have to follow a status quo for it to be… interesting… I tried to, of course, put over a comical mood. I wanted to show people that my background can be laughed at, but not in a condescending way. [It] can be entertaining for people to hear something that they’ve never really heard [of] before,” said Heck.

A challenge last week’s DramaLabs participants faced was the short rehearsal timeframe. Talia Ivory ’25, who acted in the skit “Little Women Mystery,” felt that the limited time didn’t allow for complete memorization of her lines, so she adapted by occasionally improvising. Nonetheless, Sebastian Cynn ’24, a Theater Producer, explained that the emphasis of DramaLabs lay in its community and fun, rather than technical perfection.

“I think the thing I like to stress is that DramaLabs aren’t meant to be perfect. They’re student led; they’re student run. It’s supposed to be a little bit messy… and that’s fun, because it’s a student process. So at the end of the day, you sometimes have actors who are hiding scripts in books; and that’s perfectly fine because that means they’re doing what they can… They can have some of those lines written down, but it’s all about bringing people together and into that process that I think makes DramaLabs,” said Cynn.

The Producers guaranteed everyone who auditioned a spot in DramaLabs, giving every student, regardless of skill, a chance to explore their passion for theater in these short skits. The rehearsal process fostered valuable camaraderie between actors and directors, as well as a lighthearted, flexible environment which Ivory described.

“[You have to have] imagination, [the ability] to laugh at yourself, a little bit of confidence and teamwork… It’s hard to keep a straight face, especially when the audience is engaged and laughing about the comedy. Being able to accept that sometimes you mess up [on stage], getting over it and making a joke out of it is very helpful,” said Ivory.

Overall, the DramaLabs community maintained a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere during the performances and backstage. Producer Alicia Zhang ’24 summarized what she found successful about the show, as well as the ending, when Liu gathered the cast together to help him with a promposal.

“I think it went really good considering the short amount of time it took to put it together. The plays were really funny, very interesting; especially the mystery. Plot-twist. I also was not expecting the promposal thing at the end, but it was very sweet,” said Zhang.