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5FD is fabulous

South High improv. group hosts next show on Dec. 7

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5FD is fabulous

Members of 5FD demonstrate the Rockettes kickline during a show.

Members of 5FD demonstrate the Rockettes kickline during a show.

Michael Garrett

Members of 5FD demonstrate the Rockettes kickline during a show.

Michael Garrett

Michael Garrett

Members of 5FD demonstrate the Rockettes kickline during a show.

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Five Finger Discount, commonly referred to as 5FD, is a fun-filled school activity that is packed with jokes, laughs, and students having a fun time along with the audience. The team has its next show, called Swashbucklers, on Dec. 7 in the theater.

“[5FD] provides more performance opportunities for students. Some students might be not be great at traditional theatre but are good at improv,” said 5FD sponsor Jennifer Forrest-James.

She said 5FD was a low-grade, no-audition required group when she got here 18 years ago. Forrest-James said improv is her performance specialty, so when an upperclassman named Arthur Steward wanted it to be more than a very unorganized group that would perform occasionally, she was very willing to help. Every since then 5FD has done shows professionally at events, had their own shows, and raised money for charities.

Ethan Kraus, senior, is the artistic captain of 5FD. Artistic captain means he is in charge of what kind of tech is needed for the performances. He said he became interested in 5FD when his brother was on the team while he was still in middle school. He tried out freshman year while his older brother was a senior on the team.

Tryouts happen once a year for 5FD, and it is a three to five-day process. The captains pick the students along with Forrest-James. Interestingly students are not solely picked based on improv talent.

“One of the biggest things is coach ability and how willing they are to progress and just get better, because I mean none of us were really that funny or talented in terms of improv when we tried out. It’s all about how much potential really,” Kraus said.

5FD potential stretches all the way to the audience members as well. Players involve the audience by not only asking for game subject prompts but they also include them in the games themselves. The members bring selected audience members on stage to perform with the 5FD players.

“It was really funny I liked how they interacted with the audience,” Lily Fisher, sophomore, said.

Fisher was an audience member during the Oct. 11 performance.

“I don’t think I could ever do that, because it is so on the spot. But I think they are good at what they do. They are funny people,” Fisher said.

5FD’s newer member, sophomore Chloe Schellman, said she was an audience member for her freshman year but spontaneously decided to join as a sophomore. Schellman had her first performance on Oct. 11.

“I was not very nervous at all just because I felt like my teammates had prepared me so well. All the old kids were really supportive and we had done lots of practice with our games and I feel like we were just ready to perform,” Schellman said.

5FD is a strong example of teamwork for everyone including the audience members said Meredith Labuda, junior.

“5FD is all about being a team more than anything and being a family and I think we can include the audience in that as well. It is not just like we’re an after school club and it’s just us as a team, like it’s the audience that we try to bring in and just have everyone feel good,” said Labuda.

Labuda is membership captain of 5FD. Membership means she is in  charge of any disputes and problems between team members. Labuda said she has been interested in 5FD since upperclassmen came to her middle school.

“I think it was in 8th grade and some of the seniors in 5FD came to the middle school and they taught us improv and so then freshmen year, I was like I have to try out,” Labuda said.

Another captain for 5FD is Brandon Croghan, senior. He is the development captain. Being the development captain of 5FD means that he is in charge of team bonding and the cohesiveness of the team on less of a personal level and more on how the team acts as a unit. 5FD more or less found its way to Croghan.

“So in 8th grade I was in Big Bad Musical. I played a character called ‘the boy who cried wolf.’ After the performance, this high school girl came up to me and said ‘you are really funny, you should join 5FD next year.’ I didn’t know what that was at the time, but as I saw tryouts came along freshman year, I just showed up,” Croghan said.

He has been in 5FD every since. Plus Croghan is in charge of the 5FD Instagram page, @5_Finger_Discount.

There used to be 5FD competitions. Players would compete with other schools; they would have a fun time performing with other students and learning new improv games and tactics. These competitions have not taken place in a long time, Forrest-James said. She does not think that if these competitions came about again that she would want to participate. On the other hand, several of the members, who have not seen 5FD’s competitive era, said they would want to join these competitions if they came about again.

“Why sharpen the knife when there is nothing to cut?” Croghan asked.

Croghan, along with Kraus and Labuda, all agree that competitions would be very enjoyable and would be fully willing to participate in them.  

“I like how comfortable everyone tends to be with each other in terms of like humor and also how ready people are to open up to each other and that doesn’t go for everyone on the team at one given point, there has been issues and stuff with people feeling uncomfortable with the team and stuff but for the most part I like the cohesiveness and ensemble of that,” Kraus said.

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