CMCeleb: Kathryn Mgrublian

Whoever said that girls aren't funny has never met Kathryn Mgrublian. Kathryn is a native of Pasadena majoring in Psychology and Literature. You, however, may recognize her because she is known around campus as the director of the 5C improvisational theater group Without a Box. Aside from sharing her shenanigans on stage throughout the 5Cs, Kathryn is living her dream by being a research assistant for Professor Reed's Psychology lab as well as being the newly crowned RA of Phillips. Kathryn started her acting career in the second grade with her debut role as Courtier #3 in Puss and Boots and has been acting ever since. She had never done improvisational theater before coming to college, but over her past three years with Without a Box she has tickled many funny bones and won over the hearts of Stags and Athenas alike. "The Six"

1. What are the top 5 most played songs on your iTunes?

"I would judge me too if I saw this list," notes Kathryn.

  1. Chasing Pavements, Adele
  2. About God, Gor Mkhitarian (As my friends know, this is a great pump-up party jam.)
  3. Street Lights, Kanye West
  4. Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt
  5. Satellite, Dave Matthews Band

2. What is your quirkiest quality?

Oh man, is it sad when everything I do could be taken as really weird? Here are a few:

  • I love to sing with people, but whenever I start a singing it usually it turns into me singing at people rather than with them.
  • I’ll start skipping anywhere and everywhere even when it is inappropriate to do so.
  • I’ll also try to rally my friends around my Armenian pop music whenever we go out…they still don’t think it’s cool.

3. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Killing six people last year in Assassins. I had high hopes for this year, but I died within the first five minutes of the game.

4. What is something you learned from your family?

From Grandpa Harold: Always check the expiration date on the Arby's coupons before going to dine. In my family, we don’t like to pay for the second roast beef sandwich.

5. If you could be a character from a book, movie, TV show who would you be?

Mrs. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus. No question.

6. What is your favorite unknown tidbit about CMC?

Apparently a famous serial killer, Randy Kraft, went to CMC and lived on the second floor in the eastern most suite of Green. Why do I know the specific suite, you may ask? Good question. We’ll leave it at that.

What was your experience in theater prior to Without a Box?

In high school, I was a drama kid. I went to an all-girls high school and one might think we would import guys from other schools to be in our plays, but oh no. Girls played the guy parts. There were girls in my high school who would usually be typecast as ‘the hot guy’ or ‘the funny guy’ or ‘the freaky weirdo guy.’ Yeah, I fell in that latter category. I played a guy in every high school play I was in.

Having never really done improv before, how did you get involved with Without a Box?

Flashback to a Saturday morning in October of my freshman year at CMC. I was out to brunch with my mom in the Village and I got a call from a family friend of mine, Byron Yang, who was a junior at CMC at the time. He started to explain that the 5C improvisation group, Without a Box, was holding try-outs at that moment at Pomona. He thought I would really enjoy it and told me that I should get my butt over there. So, after my mother and I scarf down our breakfast burritos she dropped me off at Pomona. Walking into the try-outs 45 minutes late, I was given the dirtiest look from all of the current members of the group, but I guess they liked me.

What inspires you to be so hilarious, charismatic and outgoing?

Haha, you’re too nice! For me, it is definitely the audience. One of my duties as director is to warm-up and to energize the audience for the performance. I need to have that bubbly stage persona ready to go for each show on stage. As performers, we find it amazing how intensely you can feed off of the energy of the audience while you are in a scene. To be honest, I can’t truly explain this enigmatic energy, but it is this odd liveliness that comes from the audience’s suggestions for scenes as well as their  responses to what we do on stage whether it is laughter, gasps, screams etc.

What do you love most about performing with Without a Box?

The group of people I do ‘prov with. I have always had this philosophy our improv can be considered a team sport. We practice three times a week, we watch ‘game tape’ (literally we watch our show from the previous Friday and break it down), and in order for us to be successful we have to trust each other. With that said, the members of Box are some of my best friends here and I love every silly, inappropriate (sometimes), or loony minute with them. By having a core group of individuals I have the utmost respect for, I find that my job as director becomes so easy. They’ll support me and challenge me in most everything that I do and I can’t ask for anything more.

What is the hardest thing about doing improv? Do you get nervous?

I think the hardest thing for me is to let go of things that I do wrong in a scene, or a ‘bit’ as we call it. Think about it this way: in a show, if you totally crash and burn in a bit, nobody thought what you did was funny, you didn’t make sense, or you offended about half the audience, you absolutely cannot let that bother you in the next bit that you are in. The show must go on, without you worrying about that scene you did 20 minutes earlier. Again, it goes back to my sports team comparison, you really have to get up, dust yourself off and keep trucking because when you give up, you let the rest of the team down. I don’t get as nervous as I did when I was a freshman. I get the little butterflies in my stomach before going on stage. My first show as a freshman, I was on Pomona’s campus and I saw my director, Jamie. He turned to me and said, “Shouldn’t you go be throwing up in a trash can right now?” Needless to say, I was very nervous for that first show, but at this point I now have probably have at least 40 shows under my belt, so the butterflies have dissipated.

How do you guys prepare for shows?

We have three rehearsals a week. The new kids to our group, or “Moops” as we call them are required to come to that third rehearsal with me, but the rest of the older members only need to come to two rehearsals. We hold auditions in the fall for new cast members and we usually take about two to three new members. The new Moops are then trained for the first semester and do not perform in shows, but instead have a show in the spring where they are knighted as full cast members. The Moop-hearsal is meant to really hone and perfect the improv skills of the new kids and get them up to speed with the rest of the group. Rehearsals in general are broken into two parts: we have a warm-up period for about 20 -30 minutes and that entails us doing word association games, singing games, clapping games etc. One of my personal favorites is ‘butt tag’ which is basically a large game of butt tag where one person is it and everyone walks in a jovial jumpy fashion with their butts sticking out. After we complete our warm-ups, we then jump into working on the bits we want to do for the show. We have singing bits, short bits, and long form bits.  One of our personal favorites is Armando in which we get a one-word suggestion from the audience and off of that particular suggestion one of the cast members tells a true story relating to that word. We then create a series of scenes based off of that story and continue that until another cast member thinks of another story to build scenes off of.

What is the most hilarious thing that happened during one of your shows?

Prior to my “Moop show” or my first show as a full cast member, I along with my two fellow Moops (Asa and Duncan) were required to memorize “The Walrus and the Carpenter” and we were told we had to perform the entire poem for the audience at our show. We nervously prepared the piece, constantly being told that we would look like fools if we didn’t have it memorized. At the start of the show, the three of us were blindfolded and the program went on. In the final moment of our introduction we were all dressed in 80s prom dresses and placed in front of the audience. Over the microphone our director said that we had something very special prepared for the audience, so we geared up for our poem. There was a silence. All of a sudden “Crank That” by none other than the famed Soulja Boy came over the sound system. The older members of the group knew that I knew the entire Crank That dance, so the three of us proceeded to ‘Crank That’ for the audience. It was silly.

Do you want to pursue improvisational acting or is it just for fun?

Definitely just for fun! I love improv and it has given me a lot of important skills, but I don’t think I can pursue it as a career.

What has been the most meaningful part of your experience doing improv acting and performing in shows with Without A Box?

Hands down, meeting the people that I work with in Box. They are such interesting, intelligent, caring, and funny people! I wouldn’t trade them for anything. On a different note, I now possess a skill to jump up in front of an audience and come up with something to say that makes sense and is entertaining and sometimes its neither of those things, but I just roll with it. I now love not knowing what is going to come out of my mouth. I may fail miserably, but it’s the risk I want to take.

To see some of the Box shenanigans, check out their YouTube channel here. Head over to Seaver Theater at Pomona on Friday, May 7th at 8pm to see Kathryn perform in Without a Box's last performance this year!