Outside the Box

by Matt Hutaff

Kate Horton

It’s Orientation Weekend and Claremont McKenna’s Hub is packed with students eager to relax from three straight days of unpacking and scheduling. Instead of playing pool or ordering snacks, however, all eyes are on the small stage occupying the west wall. Two thieves are arguing about a robbery in progress when one begins to sing about… anime?

Welcome to the world of Without a Box, the 5-College improvisational group. Formed in 1987, the troupe puts on several shows a month to packed audiences, including popular events during Parents Weekend and Spend a Day in Our Shoes. And for the first time in years, a Scripps student is a member.

“It’s a huge part of my life,” says Kate Horton ’09. “Public speaking is the number one fear in America, but we learn not only how to speak to an audience, but with an audience. Box interacts with an audience — we take their suggestions, use their ideas and create something with them as well as for them.”

The shows resembles visits to Second City or the Groundlings. While there’s a loose fabric of skits to perform, it’s the sophomore at the back of the room calling out for an operetta about Barack Obama that drives the show. Call it communal Mad-Libs™, if you will.

Kate’s commitment to Box has survived several years and a semester abroad, and she’s always looking to groom the next Scripps student to fill her shoes. The friendships she’s formed within the group are some of the most important of her
college career, and the ability to think quickly and make people laugh is one we could all use.

But whether you’re a member of the cast or the audience, be prepared to participate. The jokes don’t write themselves, after all.