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mmer vacation, a time to return to the classroom and face the challenges of yet another school year. For eight to 12 Charleston County School of the Arts students, the coming school year offers a wide open stage and the opportunity to entertain adults and children all over the southeast with their unique brand of improvisational theater. As a part of the student improv troupe known as The Fighting Gnomes (inspired by a discarded garden gnome found on campus), these young actors have developed quite a reputation in the Lowcountry – and for good reason.

The Gnomes will spend countless hours honing their craft and performing for the public, numerous school groups, theatre conferences, community groups and arts events such as Piccolo Spoleto and First Night Charleston. Chosen through rigorous auditions, the troupe of talented actors focuses on every genre of theatre through improvisation. According to faculty advisor and director George Younts, “Improv is no longer a foreign media to the American theatre audience.”

With the popularity of the television series Whose Line Is It Anyway? and local comedy troupe The Have Nots! and their assorted offspring, improv theatre has proven to be a dynamic medium for young artists to gain a better understanding of the highs and lows of being on stage, as Younts describes it, of “being in the moment.”

With the return of several stars, including Ally Bing, a rising junior and last year’s Theatre Arts Student of The Year, the Gnomes are poised to offer audiences something different every time. Bing and her fellow students perform for school groups and will be offering several workshops throughout the southeast. As Younts says of his young troupe, “These are smart actors, and a smart actor is a better actor.” The Gnomes will once again take their talents and intelligent improvisational theatre to audiences this fall season and throughout the coming year.

The Fighting Gnomes will appear at various public workshops and performances during the fall and will perform at Theatre 99’s Laugh For A Lincoln on Wed., Oct. 18. –Dana Magliola