Meet Jill Bernard, a beloved improviser and teacher. Jill talks to us about her journey in improv theatre, and her joyful approach to improv and life.
Sandra Bruce is the Founder and Executive Director of Autism Improvised, Inc., a nonprofit serving the autism community through the principles of improvisational theater. She was inspired by her grandson, who was diagnosed ASD at age 2, to find a creative, fun way to address the social challenges of autism. Because her grandson had a love for film and theatre, she suspected this area would benefit her grandson. Not coming from a theater background, she did her research, discovered improvisational acting, and was excited to discover how improv seemed to be a perfect modality to address the social challenges and rigid thought patterns of autism.
Meet the fabulous Wendy Rush, improviser, popular radio DJ and mom along with the delightful Tom McCourt. Together they have developed a program for the Las Vegas Juvenile Offender Court to use improvisational theatre skills to help these teens and their families.
Meet the delightful Stephanie Anderson, a muli-talented and beloved improv teacher in Chicago who brings joy and laughter wherever she goes! Stephanie teaches at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, designing interactive enrichment curriculum and facilitates storytelling and improv workshops for MBA students at the University of Chicago.
Michael Golding has been improvising for over 40 years. Michael is a writer, director and improv teacher who studied with the “father of Improv” David Shepherd and pioneered many innovative improv programs. Michael participated in the evolution of the Improv Olympics & Canadian Improv Games and is the Artistic Director of the Comic Strip Improv Group in N.Y. & created the Insight Theatre Company for Planned Parenthood, Ottawa. In addition to being a performer and coach, Michael is an accomplished writer and his book Listen Harder is a wonderful collection of essays on his journey in improv and working with at-risk youth in various settings.
Meet Ted DesMaisons, a beloved improv and mindfulness teacher who is internationally recognized for his work. His students describe him as someone who “teaches with clarity, creativity, and effective ritual”. After completing graduate his MBA at Stanford Business he attended Harvard Divinity School. Ted has studied and performed improvisation across North America, including with Patricia Ryan Madsen at Stanford, BATS Improv in San Francisco and Loose Moose Theater in Calgary, Alberta. All that experience supports a simple truth: Ted’s passion for teaching and learning leads him to share that passion with others like you.
Although it has been 2 months since Hurricane Irma devastated Collier County, many people are still feeling the effects of this traumatic event. Today I was with some friends who continue to suffer daily due to Irma. Some are homeless for an indefinite amount of time, some are seeking welfare and Food Stamps (something they never thought would happen in their lives), and spending their days on the phone with government agencies, insurance companies, etc. A traumatic event is a life-threatening occurrence and post-trauma stress is a normal response to an abnormal event, such as Irma. Living through a trauma affects the body, mind, and spirit.
In 1997 my father, Ivan Escott, Jr. was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was a lucky coincidence that this was the year that the Parkinson Association of South Florida (PASFI) was founded. I had the opportunity to speak at a meeting with the founding members of PASFI before they were incorporated so knew about their mission. A few weeks after that, my dad received his PD diagnosis. How fortunate we were to know there was a place where he could be involved, receive education and support.
You don’t have to want to be a performer on stage to learn improv games! We can play them just for the fun of it. There is growing research on the therapeutic benefits of Improvisational Theatre Games for people with PD. The Neurology Department of Northwestern University has partnered with Second City since 2015 researching the benefits of teaching improv to people with PD and their caregivers. Their research showed that improvisational theatre games help to cultivate focus, improve communication, and promote well- being.
Meet Fantastic Funny Femmes, a wonderful group of Canadian improvisers – Brie Watson, Candace Meeks and Alicia Douglas. They are dedicated performers and improv teachers who teach improv for anxiety issues and mindfulness. They also teach improv to help women, women-identifying/trans, and non-binary persons feel empowered. We discuss the issues that woman improvisers continue to face in improv classes and teams, often feeling alienated and isolated.