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The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

UNSCRIPTED: Improv team takes the stage with live performances

Junior+Ian+Kim+%28left%29+and+freshman+Celeste+Lopez-Garduno+%28right%29+rehearse+one+of+their+many+games%2C+Expert+Challenge%2C+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+8%2C+in+the+Performing+Arts+Center.
Chloe Kang
Junior Ian Kim (left) and freshman Celeste Lopez-Garduno (right) rehearse one of their many games, Expert Challenge, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, in the Performing Arts Center.

They call themselves the “Unscheduled 6th.”

The 10 members of Sunny Hills’ newest improvisational [improv] team – resurrected this school year after the extracurricular activity disappeared during the COVID-19 pandemic because the campus was on lockdown for most of 2020 – say their group’s name truly captures the spirit of the crew.

“A friend of mine at La Habra High School helped me create a name that was school-related and had a positive connotation,” the group’s adviser says. “And so when we thought of Unscheduled 6th, we thought it would be a fun little call back to a positive thing at school because students without a sixth period earned that.”

The group’s adviser also says the name is an ironic play on words because the members of the team practice after school, not during sixth period.

“It’s because in the improv world, improv teams have weird goofy and ironic names, and Unscheduled 6th kinda fits that tone,” the adviser says.

Crew member senior Chase Morley also likes the nebulous moniker.

“Unscheduled 6th is an awesome name [because] it’s stereotypical that team names for improv teams don’t really have a meaning, so ours doesn’t either,” Morley says. “I’ve never been on any other improv teams [so] I wanted to join improv to help improve my reactiveness and overall ability as an actor.”

I felt like I was able to really just let go and have fun, and I think everyone else felt the same.”

— junior Caleb Van Hook

So far, the team had one performance on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center [PAC], where the entry fee was $5 per ticket. According to the Sunny Hills Lancer Theater Company, the team’s next performance will be on Thursday, Nov. 9.

“We got some great feedback from just community members about their last performance,” principal Craig Weinreich says. “I think it’s a great addition [because] I know it’s a great extra place for people to participate, get involved and show off their skills.”

In front of 40-50 people, the team performed for approximately 50 minutes on topics the audience had suggested.

“I felt like I was able to really just let go and have fun, and I think everyone else felt the same,” says junior Caleb Van Hook, an Unscheduled 6th performer. “It was a really comical show, and I cannot wait to have more people come and see our shows!”

Other members of the team have similar opinions to Van Hook, expressing positive attitudes to the show.

“I was very impressed by my team and myself during the October performance, [because] everyone really gave it their all on that day,” new team member junior Brendan Barnett says. “I honestly need to work on some of the improv games that I haven’t really played and [maintain] a great connection with the other members.”

The crew demonstrated multiple short-form sketches; one of the more popular short-form games demonstrated was New Choice. In this activity, members create one cohesive scene on the spot about a given topic; however, each time Logan calls out “new choice,” members must create a new action related to the same topic. Each topic usually has three actions and lasts from three to four minutes.

Besides practicing the New Choice routine, the group’s biweekly practice sessions, located in Room 26 or the PAC building from 3:45 p.m.-5:45 p.m., also entail rehearsing other short-form games such as Four Square, Dance Party, Freeze Tag, and Good-Bad-Worst.

English and theater teacher Christian Penuelas, Unscheduled 6th’s adviser, previously taught as a coach for the improv team for three years at La Habra High School before getting hired here.

Penuelas says he introduced improv to Sunny Hills in the 2023-2024 school year because he wanted to create space in the theater program and he believed that his preparations to add any programs were not finished until this school year.

“The goal is to really create as many opportunities as possible because the reality is that not everybody can be in every play: plays have limited space,” he says. “This just provides another opportunity for students to get involved with theater.”

Penuelas says the team is currently considered a part of the Lancer Theatre Company. However, the group is more akin to a sports team than an actual class or a club.

I’ve never been on any other improv teams [so] I wanted to join improv to help improve my reactiveness and overall ability as an actor.”

— senior Chase Morley

“One day, maybe it can be considered a sixth period,” Penuelas says. “You know, an elective or even possibly club or class, who knows what the future holds.”

While Penuelas is the adviser, he says he reached out to theater teacher Wyatt Logan from Whittier Christian High School to coach the team for a small undisclosed stipend. This was because Penuelas believed that coaching and advising the team would be too difficult for him to handle. However, Penuelas says he is still in charge of the team’s overall direction and organization of events.

Logan also coaches his own improv team at Whittier Christian High School and has been on an improv team before.

“Mr. Penuelas asked me if I wanted to coach his improv team, and since I knew him personally, it was an easy choice,” Logan says. “Right now, they’ve been picking things up pretty quick, and I’m pretty impressed with how quickly they’ve actually progressed.”

Logan says he is focused on teaching the team how to create improv scenes without help or scripts. Although it is just the first year for the company, Penuelas hopes his students can also contribute to the theater program and wants his students to have fun learning improv.

“The thing I’ve noticed from when I used to coach improv is that the kids who are in a team or were on the improv team usually ended up being some of the stronger actors in the theater program,” Penuelas says. “It gives more opportunities for students, and that is really the goal.” 

The goal is to really create as many opportunities as possible because the reality is that not everybody can be in every play: plays have limited space.”

— Unscheduled 6th adviser Christian Penuelas

The theater points out that Unscheduled 6th currently consists of four freshmen, two juniors and four seniors, but does not have any sophomores this year.

“I don’t think there’s any reason why there were no sophomores,” Penuelas says. “It would be great to have a student of each grade level represented on the team; whoever wants to come audition, you know, we’ll take the best.”

The team, which had not yet reached its limits of around 16 members, only allowed individuals to join through auditions held on Tuesday, Aug.22, after school in Room 26. The next set of auditions will occur on an unknown date near the beginning of the spring semester.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of people coming to audition, but I’m certain after people see a few shows in the next semester, we’ll have a whole lot more people coming to audition [next semester],” the theater teacher says.

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Kevin Lee
Kevin Lee, Staff Reporter
Sophomore Kevin Lee joined The Accolade after taking the prerequisite class, Journalism 1, as a freshman. Currently, Lee is a staff reporter, but he is aiming to eventually become a news editor. Through working for The Accolade, Lee hopes to improve his writing and social skills, as well as time management and teamwork skills. Some of Lee's hobbies outside of The Accolade are reading books, watching videos and playing video games.  
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