20 Years In
The group is chock-full of traditions, most of which are secret surprises starting from a noob’s induction all the way up to their graduation. One special tradition that even audience members get to participate in is the way every scene begins. We raise our fists into the air and shout, “MOCK… TURTLE,” and on “SOUP,” we bring our fists down, and the scene begins.
These traditions are a culmination of 20 years’ worth of turtles who have all added their own personal touches to the group, traditions that will remain for generations to come.
Mock Turtle Soup was founded in 2002 by Katie Jones ’04 and Bryan Buckley ’04. Jones became the first president and Buckley the first vice president. Jones says improv has changed her significantly: “It made me a more collaborative person, a more trusting person, a more adventurous person, and has made me believe in the power of group mind and community bonding.”
Jones has taken what she started and learned with MTS and founded The Magnetic Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina. She remains friends with her fellow turtles to this day. Among them is Clemson graduate Harrison Brookie ’07, M ’08.
Brookie was also among the first few members of MTS, joining in 2004, and is someone who followed the pattern of many other turtles by continuing to do improv after graduation. Brookie says improv has informed his life “as a teacher, business owner and parent (got to ‘Yes, And’ those kids).”
He is currently the owner, founder and executive director of the Alchemy Comedy Theater in downtown Greenville. The theater holds weekly shows, improv classes, cage matches between improv groups, and the annual New South Comedy Festival where groups from all over come to perform, Mock Turtle Soup included.
Past troupe members of MTS have spread out all over the map to places like Boston, New York, Chicago, Richmond, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta and more. One thing remains consistent: They never lost their love of improv or for the people with whom they shared the experience. The most recent examples are Manus ’17 and Lindsay Heyman ’15 Clancy, two former members who met through the troupe, visit Clemson’s campus for MTS events and continue to perform at Alchemy together. The couple recently celebrated their wedding, of which many turtles were in attendance.