River City Improv, the Calvin alumni improv team, will be on the Blue Bridge on Saturday, cheering for all comers in an event called “Congratulations.”
Rick Treur started River City Improv, the Calvin alumni improvisation team in 1993, the year he graduated from Calvin. The group, which performs all over the U.S. and Canada, will take to the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 to cheer on all comers—including at least one bride and groom. The event is called "Congratulations," and Treur, who last May became the director of Calvin’s Annual Fund, talked about the idea behind it.
What is “Congratulations”?
It’s just going to be a positive, improvised event to celebrate good things in people’s lives. So, we’re essentially asking people to come down and cheer for others or be cheered on.
May anybody take part?
Definitely. You can come and cheer others or be cheered yourself, or you can do both.
What are the logistics of the event?
The cheer-ers will form two lines, sort-of facing each other with an aisle in between, and whoever wants to be cheered for will run down between the lines of cheering people, holding up a sign explaining why they’re running ... We had a lady who posted on our Facebook wall that she had lost 84 lbs., and she posted it on her Facebook wall that she was going to come down and be cheered on publicly.
What's up with the wedding?
Yesterday we got an email from ArtPrize that the City of Grand Rapids had approved a wedding on the Blue Bridge at the same time that we were going to be holding our event. So, I contacted Grand Valley as well because they were the ones who were managing the Blue Bridge as a venue—their art department was going to be curating it. And I went down to check out the Blue Bridge and realized that it was plenty big for both the wedding and our event. So I called the bride, and I sort of explained to her what we were doing and asked if she was okay with it—and she was fine with it. She and her fiancé were both from the east side of the state, and they wanted to have their wedding on the Blue Bridge to show off the city to their families. She said, ‘We’re fine with your event going on during the wedding. It would be nice if, for five minutes while I’m exchanging my vows, it could be quiet.’ But she wants to run down our cheer line to be congratulated.
What are you hoping to achieve with this event?
That people get a sense of hope and accomplishment from celebrating the good things in life. It’s like, lately, I feel like in some ways the world is going to explode: earthquakes, tsunamis, the economy, people losing their jobs. I just feel like it’s time for something positive.
How is this art?
I’ve always sort of thought of art as something that creates an emotional response in somebody—using your talents to evoke a response. That will definitely happen through this.
What if it rains?
We’ll still be there. That’s one of the risks you take.