University of Pittsburgh improv group makes a "Ruckus" at Future Tenant


Photo Credit: Kristen Gigliotti

University of Pittsburgh’s improve group “Ruckus” was excited to be invited to perform at the downtown studio Future Tenant. While the event was not as well attended as they hoped, the performers decided that the show must go on!

The performance space was formed in 2002 in a collaborative effort between Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Fine Arts and Master of Arts Management program and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Their mission is to help performers and artists to explore their creativity.

The studio was small, and there were only two rows of chairs set up on high risers.

Future Tenant offered attendees complimentary beer, cider, and soda. The space itself made it very easy to hear everything that was said. Due to the small audience size, the show began with each performer introducing him or herself, after which the group’s president Jamie Bergey asked everyone in the audience to introduce themselves.

The group quickly launched into the first part of the performance they named “Freeze.” Two performers started the game and after a few minutes another member would shout “freeze,” freezing the actors in their positions of that moment. The person who had shouted would then run up, tap one of the performing actors on the stage, and assume the position.

The real treat was the second half of the performance known as, “Long Form.” There were several skits that took place interchangeably.

While all of the sketches were entertaining, only one really struck a chord with the audience. It began with Shane Jordan, Ben Mills, and Isaac Minkoff pretending to stand in line for the release of a new power tool at Home Depot. Jordan then pretended to purchase an extra drill for his wife (played by Elisa Ogot in another scene) from Meghan Ferraro, the monotoned cashier.

The sketch was broken up by the other scenes, but the storyline continued on in a way that really drew the audience in. The storyline managed to tie in two of the other sketches involving a failed attempt at organizing the Olympic Games to be hosted in Louisiana and another dealing with two “mean girls” played by Meghan Ferraro and Lizzie Kanieski.

Photo Credit: Kristen Gigliotti
Photo Credit: Kristen Gigliotti

Ruckus is made up of a variety of students. “The group is by audition only, and we have about two dozen performers in our group. We have both undergraduate and graduate students,” said Bergey. “We do shows twice a week so having more people helps.”

Also, very few of their members are actual theater majors. “We have a little bit of everything,” Jordan explained, “We have a few theater majors but we have everything from mathematics to English.”

The variety does in fact add to the performance. The group as a whole played off of one another well. The vibe from the group was one of familiarity.

Ruckus performs every week alternating between the Studio Theatre and the Henry Heymann theatre. Both spaces are located on the University of Pittsburgh’s Campus in Oakland.