The Lilting Banshees are a comedy troupe at Wake Forest University.
They are the misfits, the jokers, the loud ones (but also the quiet ones), the show-offs, the actors, performers, singers, stage managers, and the funniest people on campus.
Over 50 alumni and the existing cast gathered during the weekend of 26 January 2019 for a reunion. These are some of my photo and video memories.
Troupe member and alumni liaison Luis Herrera worked with current Banshees director Libby Morris to develop this agenda:
- Friday 8pm at Campus Gas: Meet and Greet
- Saturday 10am at Brendle Auditorium: Reunion kick-off
Introductions of current troupe and alumni. Break into small groups for discussions. Introduction of the new scholarship fund.
- Saturday 1pm in Tribble: Writing workshops
Read old sketches and write new ones. Break into small groups. Meet back at 2pm to present as a group.
- Saturday 3:30pm Open time
- Saturday 7:00pm at Brendle: Best of Banshees
Reserved seating for alumni. Show at 7:30pm. Go to Campus Gas for after-party
- Sunday 10am in Carswell Hall, Annenburg Auditorium: Say our goodbyes
Sign the Banshees banner. Some groups went to brunch
Campus Gas: Friday Night
Campus Gas is the old gas station on Polo Road, now owned by three WFU alumni including Will Volker who is a Banshee. There are many beers on tap. It is very new and modern and loud inside. Outside there is a lot of seating, and a big meat smoker.
Intros: Saturday Morning
Chairs were set up in a circle on stage. We shook hands and hi-fived as people trickled into Brendle Auditorium.
We did an icebreaker for people to go around the circle and say their name, what year they graduated, where they live currently, and what they’re doing now professionally.
Small Group Discussions
One of my favorite parts of the day happened around 11am. We split into small groups of 6-10 people from mixed graduation years. Everyone had the chance to share about their experience as a Lilting Banshee. We asked current troupe members or older troupe members about traditions and processes.
During this discussion, my group talked about:
- War Room and how it is organized. Sam, Director in 2017/8, changed it from a paper-based system to all-digital on Google Drive.
- Whether previous troupes had Faculty Advisors. Recently the ISOC signs caused an uproar and the troupe had to get all new signs approved by a Faculty Advisor.
- A new member asked the old members: Did you ever get in trouble with the University Administration?
- Auditions, and how they are handled. We learned that 70-90 people show up each year for auditions now.
- Theater overlap, and the Anthony Aston Players + history with AAP. When I was a Banshee in 2000-2002, we had a number of theater performers in the troupe. Now there is only 1 theater person and there tends not to be much overlap.
- I asked: Where do you host the after-parties at? Since there is no more theater house, and most students are living on campus now. There was no clear answer.
James Buescher Memorial Fund
Shane Harris introduced a Memorial Fund in honor of a passed Lilting Banshee named James Buescher.
Mission: The James Buescher Memorial Fund enables the Lilting Banshees to become a better, funnier, and more widely-known group of comic artists. The fund’s financial support reflects the artistic values and spirit of James Buescher and preserves his legacy.
More information will be shared soon about this fund. The goal is to enable current members to do cool things!
Writing Workshops in Tribble: Saturday Afternoon
After breaking for lunch, we met in Tribble at 1:00pm. This was another one of my favorite parts of the weekend.
We split into writing groups based on our graduation year. Due to a lack of representation of alumni during our time, Aaron Winter and myself joined “The O.G. Banshees” of the earliest era (Classes of 1995 to 2004).
Groups dispersed throughout Tribble to read and write and workshop in various classrooms.
Old Skits and New Skits
At 2:00pm, all groups reunited to present what we had worked on.
Some groups wrote new material, others read from some of their favorites, and a few did both. Highlights included Stabtown, Gunface, and Amish Roommate. I laughed. A lot.
Around 3:30pm, the current cast went to Brendle to rehearse for their show. Everyone else pretty much split up or broke off into separate groups. About a dozen people remained in Tribble to read through some old sketches.
Best of Banshees: Performance
At 7:00pm, alumni met for early access to Brendle Recital Hall. We had special reserved seating in the front three rows of the auditorium.
The show started at 7:30pm with a very funny digital short — See it here
I was a member of the Lilting Banshees Comedy Troupe during 2000-2002 when I was a student at WFU. The group for me was a place to be understood. People who laughed at my good jokes and would help me workshop my bad ones. Those were some of the best times of my college experience.
I laughed deep and hard and my heart was full this weekend.
If you’re a Lilting Banshee alumnus reading this, I hope you’ll join us for the 30th reunion in 2024.
- Wake Forest Magazine: Oh, Those Lilting Banshees! Where Are They (Funny) Now?
- Facebook: Banshees That Lilt (official or unofficial alumni group)
- YouTube channel: The Lilting Banshees
Update on 8 Feb 2019: Adding a link to this article in the Old Gold & Black — Lilting Banshees Host Reunion Show, by Lillian Johnson
Transcription of Interviews
I interviewed a few people on stage immediately after the Best of Banshees 2019 show. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
Aaron Winter ’02:
I mean this is probably the only reason I stayed in college because all those anti-social energies had somewhere to go and thanks to that, I have my wife and I have my baby and I have my business partner. And I don’t think that this group and this institution could have possibly given me any more.
Emma Templeton ’15:
Being a Lilting Banshee was finding my home at Wake Forest. It was finding my family. And, you know, finding the people who accepted me for who I was and let me be creative. It’s great to see people who treasure the troupe as much as we do and it’s great to see the legacy of what people have created.
Sam Ederle ’17
Being in the crowd for a show was really something, once you graduate. Everything changes. You’re out there and you don’t have the nerves. You’re a little nervous for the current troupe just because you’ve been there backstage but you get to just really enjoy the show. Today was unbelievable. Anybody who wasn’t here, the troupe was just amazing. It’s 25 years of people here who are ages 18-35 or whatever. And everyone has just been so nice. The weirdest and best part is that we all have this common denominator and you know it immediately when you meet somebody. When you meet somebody that was in the troupe, from 25 years ago, you’re immediately like: Oh my God, I can see it. I can see how we have this connection if we met in another setting in another world. I think we’d immediately realize there’s something here.
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