This Thursday evening, students from Lakewood, Poly and Renaissance high schools will visit Wilson High School for an improv competition hosted by the Wilson Drama Club. It marks the first time since the pandemic that local schools have gotten together for an improv competition, making it an exciting return to the stage for all students involved.

“It’s a big deal to get to do this again,” said Wilson theater teacher Anne Smith. “The improv teams kind of died down over COVID, as you can imagine, because it’s kind of an after-school thing. The kids had to decide to pick it back up, and our team has been revived.”

Jess Ward, who coaches the Wilson improv team, will serve as the master of ceremonies and help facilitate the friendly competition. Three judges with theater and improv expertise will determine the “winning” team, though the event is focused on having fun and giving everyone in the audience a laugh.

“The judges are going to look at the kids’ ability to collaborate, how they interact, the level of humor and the creativity they’re bringing,” Smith said. “And we have this silly platter that you can win, we call it the kiddie platter, and you get to win that as a sign of honor. It’s more for the sake of the laugh.”

And just like any improv show, the audience will have the chance to participate as well. The jokes, characters and performances will all be made up on the spot, using suggestions from the audience provided before and during the show.

Given that the performers will have no idea what suggestions will be coming their way, and that they’re performing alongside students from other schools, the event will be truly unpredictable for everyone.

“The show itself, we have no clue what that’s going to look like. It could go in all directions,” said Smith. “It can really be very creative, and the thing is also for the audience to participate. So we’ll have pieces of paper when you come in and we’ll have the audience write down different relationships between characters, some occupations, and there will be lots of questions to the audience throughout the show.”

The show will be held in the choir room at Wilson High School, 4400 E. 10th St., at 7 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door for $5 apiece. Guests are encouraged to arrive early and can park along Park Avenue between Wilson High and Blair Field. Signs will be posted with directions to the choir room. Concessions will be available at intermission and all proceeds will go towards the theater program.