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The First English Spex at KTH

Benjamin Javitz -

Benjamin Javitz -

We joined the newly started THS English Theater Club in Nya Matsalen on a journey through time and space. To 15th century Bologna, 1996’s MIT in Boston - and finally returned to 2022’s KTH in what can only be described as the tremendous success of the first English spex at KTH - The Circle of Stars.

Around 19:00 on an evening in mid-May, international and Swedish students alike started pouring into Nymble. The queue was long. The actors of the English Theater Improvisation Club were slightly nervous yet extremely excited. Nya Matsalen was almost full. In cooperation with THS MAIN (Masters and International students), they had prepared three hours and dozens of scenes from three different time periods, all connected by an overarching plot about secret societies and the spirit of the European exchange program Erasmus.

“Omstart! Omstart! Omstart!”

For those who don’t know, here’s how a spex works: in this Swedish student tradition, the play often focuses on historical themes and characters. Of course we can’t always agree on what exactly happened, so it is completely fine for people who probably never met to share a scene, enrich the story with twists, turns, romantic tension, singing and as many puns as possible. Improvisation and interaction are also part of the fun and the audience is allowed (and encouraged!) to throw in suggestions and commands that the actors can choose to follow. “Talk in a German accent!”, “Act like you’re drunk!”, “Sing as high as you can!”, “The floor is lava!” - anything goes in a spex.

While many chapters spend a lot of time, energy and resources on their spex and prepare props, music and scripts for a year or more, the English Theater Club at THS formed last autumn and started working on their performance just eight months ago!

Bologna, Bologna
Your knowledge inspires like flames of a fire
The person I want to become

Nicolaus Copernicus (played by Gabriel Pulver) meets Desiderius Erasmus (played by Julian Nalenz and namesake of the exchange program that brings many international students to Stockholm) at the Università di Bologna in 1497. Instantly, sparks fly, butterflies appear in stomachs, it’s love at first sight. Copernicus’ other love interest Lucette (played by the theater club’s president Barbora Havelcová) and their professor Domenico (Charles Darrousez) aren’t as happy about this though. They also find a mysterious golden scarab (played by an actor in a yellow morphsuit), compare props and body parts to types of pasta, fight a bee conjured up by an audience member and are suddenly transported to 1996 when the sign on the stage falls down. Guess it got as excited as the audience for what would happen next!

Drink drink, drink your problems away
Drink drink, drink them all away
Drink drink, till you forget your name
Drink drink, ANOTHER ROUND!

In 1996, we meet four international students on the first day of their exchange year in a new country. They don’t have much in common, but Vasil (Mikołaj Bocheński), the British newspaper editor conspiracy theorist and strong believer in secret societies, meets Manon (Gauri Salunkhe), the computer scientist, on a very awkward yet beautiful date. The sexy male-chauvinist Italian/American football player Brian (Ettore Scami) finds his romantic side when he meets historian Lisa (Angelika Graf). Together they get blackout drunk during their first big corridor party and sing a wonderful ballad about the benefits of alcohol. Finally they stumble upon evidence of a secret society spanning across Europe - Vasil’s wet dream! We are forced to leave them behind when the next sign falls down in a perfectly timed coincidence to annouce the third act.

Erasmus, Erasmus is a state of mind
Erasmus, Erasmus forever light
Erasmus, Erasmus will never disappear
Erasmus, Erasmus, friend year after year!

Finally, we go back to KTH in the present - and get a treat in the first scene! We witness the reenactment of what everyone here has experienced during the last few years - a class on Zoom going terribly wrong. “You’re muted! We can’t hear you!!” - “Can you hear me now?” - “What?” - “Is it yours or my connection?” - “Kan alla pratar svenska?” - “I live in Norrtälje so I actually prefer working from home, can we just split up the work?” - “Sorry, I have laundry tomorrow so I can’t come to campus”.

That’s it? 🤨 No! We jump to a student party in Nymble and get our next romance of the evening. In an exciting ABBA medley beautifully sung by the cast, Vicky (Tori Leatherman) and Erik (Daniel Gros) dance and flirt on stage, cheered on by their fellow students (Irene Noguera Alonso, Rebecca Barth and others). We meet Erik and Vicky again in their first physical class when, of course, there’s only one empty table left for them to sit. Things get awkward when the golden scarab starts dancing around their table and uncomfortably close when the floor turns into lava again and Vicky and Erik are forced to stare into each other’s eyes for what feels like eternity. They decide to follow the clues left by Professor Vasil (he’s back!) and his co-investigator Manon (Anastasia Walch-Guinebert) and finally uncover the truth: Erasmus, the EU, the Circle of Stars, the golden guy in the morphsuit - they’re all connected! The purpose of this century-old secret organisation is to bring us all together as students and people, learn about each other and find friends that stay forever.

"En gång till! En gång till! En gång till!"

Standing ovations. The audience goes crazy after the final ensemble musical scene celebrating the spirit of Erasmus. Everyone’s excited, exhausted, exhilarated and exclaims their love for this exquisite experience: “So much fun!” - “The singing was incredible!” - “Amazing impro skills, even for the most absurd commands!”.

Three hours flew by before we even knew what hit us and never felt dragged out or too long. You could tell how much fun the actors had on stage and how proud they were (rightfully so!) after the first English spex had drawn to a close. Every minor hiccup was outweighed by more jokes and the humor of the situation. We are excited to see what they come up with next year!

Publicerad: 2022-05-17

Ansvarig utgivare: Benjamin Javitz
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