In Part 2 of our conversation with the fantastic Ira Sakolsky, we chat about his work teaching and playing improv in Connecticut. One of the wonderful events he co-created 17 years ago is The North Pole Express at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex, CT. which is still playing to sold-out audiences.
Ira Sakolsky is a professional actor, musician, and composer, writing and performing for film, theater, television, and industrial shows.
Ira Sakolsky is a professional actor, musician, and composer, writing and performing for film, theater, television, and industrial shows. His Riverway Recording Studio in East Haddam, CT, has garnered many awards, including Parent’s Choice Award, Global Music Awards, and a Grammy nomination. Ira has studied Viola Spolin’s improvisational theatre games for 47 years. We first met at a workshop with Aretha Amelia Sills and I was struck by his energy, playfulness, and compassion. His love of drama and improv started at a young age.
From founding a not-for-profit to provide music therapy for hospice patients to being a stand-in Al Pacino and Woody Allan’s films to co-writing a new musical based on the online dating experience, Ira has shared his talents around the world. In college, his acting teacher, George Morrison, had been part of the Compass Players with Paul Sills and Mike Nichols, which led to Ira performing in Sills’ Story Theatre. He continues to have a busy career writing music, playing, and acting. He is currently co-writing a new film in which he’ll co-star and serve as the composer.
Cameron Dee is a lovely improvisor from one of my favorite places, Edinburgh, Scotland. We met when he was a substitute coach for Class Act curated by Jay Sukow at todayimprov.com.
Cameron started doing Stand Up Comedy at age 20 and was surprised how well received he was! He enjoyed the laughs for 7-8 years until he realized he just wasn’t having fun.
We chat about his path to improv starting when his family moved from Perth, Australia to Scotland. He continued with standup but found himself losing interest. Took his first 6-week course and has been doing it for the past ten years. We spoke of our mutual admiration for Jules Munns, at the Nursery.
Cameron gives his improv philosophy. “You have nothing to lose, and nothing to gain.” Check out his FaceBook and drop into one of his jams!
Cameron is planning a world tour. Check it out at: https://camerond.net/world_improv_tour.html
Meet Ali Turnbull. A wonderful writer and improviser that has Parkinson’s disease. She finds ways to inspire others with Parkinson’s Disease through exercise and laughter. We met at an Improv for PD class with the delightful Robert Cochrane. I laughed so much during this interview as Ali has remarkable wit and is quite engaging, Ali lives on the edge of the beautiful English Lake District with her husband Robin and a cat called LouLou. Her philosophy on life is expressed in this quote. “I have quickly decided that instead of mourning the brain cells I have lost, I will celebrate those that remain with the things I love – music, exercise, and the great outdoors.”
Assael Romanelli, Ph.D. is a prolific writer, clinician, and internationally known trainer. Our first podcast was on May 5, 2017, a few months before we both presented at the “Yes, and Mental Health Conference” in Chicago. I was so glad to catch up with him and his great body of work over the past 4 years. He has made a great difference in the world of research and clinical improv. He conducted a research project teaching improv to social workers in 2019 he and colleagues published the research project “I’mprovisation – Therapists’ Subjective Experience during Improvisational Moments in the Clinical Encounter”. Assael developed a training course for therapists in theater improvisation skills and observed its impact on their clinical work. The 17 therapists that he trained in this study all had a positive change in relation to their work.
This is our second interview with the fabulous Daniel DeWalt of Covered Bridge Studios and Theaters in the Chicago area. He has recently created a series of FREE Master Level Improv Sessions with their newest enterprise, Generations On The Bridge Improv Playground. Combining the talents of children, teens, and adults who have graduated from their conservatory Comedy & Drama Improv Program in a single group, this promises to be something quite unique. Daniel, along with other professional instructors, is emphasizing advanced improv concepts and they will be opening these sessions soon to graduate-level improv students from all over the country. For more information about these exciting masterclasses and other projects at Covered Bridge, contact Daniel at MycoveredBridge@aol.com
What an honor it was for me to chat with Ed Greenberg about his journey and his love and enthusiasm for improvisational theater. Ed is an improvisational director, actor, and teacher. He began his career as an actor at the legendary improvisational theater “The Committee” in San Francisco, where he worked with his mentor and life-long friend Del Close on the beginning experiments in long-form improvisation. Ed also worked with Viola Spolin and Paul Sills. Ed has directed The Second City, Chicago, worked as an actor in movies and TV, as well as a voice actor in hundreds of radio and TV commercials. their lives quickly and easily.
Mary DeMichele has been a pioneer in researching the use of improv for teens who’ve experienced trauma. We met at the premiere of the film Act Social, by Sean Mulivil. How can improv be less overwhelming and scary for the beginner? This is the question that has defined Mary’s 25-year career. Mary is the creator of One Rule Improva — research-based and trauma-informed — accessible approach to learning, teaching, and applying improv, so people can bring the benefits of improv into their lives quickly and easily.
Chris Alvarado is an amazing improv teacher and actor. I met Chris through our mutual friend, Jay Sukow. Chris has been improvising for 24years and is a master teacher. Chris is so easy to talk with and for half of the interview he’s actually interviewing me! He is incredibly direct, honest, and committed to his art. He is from LA and became addicted to improv at his first class at a community college, where he remained for six years. He traveled to Chicago’s Second City with the hopes of being the next SNL sensation. He returned to LA to study at the IO West, UCB, Westside Comedy Theatre & Second City LA. We talk about the fear of taking an improv class and how brave students are when they walk into their first class – and come back. His podcasts are wonderful and I hope you’ll check them out! Even better, try one of his classes!
Ron Jarvis is certainly a Renaissance man. He is a writer, actor, improviser, and really great human. He’s also truly an adventurous soul! He shared the story of his bucolic childhood that led him to sail on a Norwegian freighter to exotic places to his entry into clown college and being a clown with the Ringling Circus. You’ll love his stories of working with clowns and other circus folks! His love of elephants and working with them is truly a love story! His life changed when he was still at the circus and had time off to see the Lampoon Comedy show in 1975.
That cast included Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray. After returning to see several shows he said to himself, “I want to do that” and headed to Chicago to audition at Second City. His first show was as a heckler in the audience, irritating other folks until he was invited on stage, by his clown partner who was also in the cast, and they engaged in a wild clown fight that brought down the house. He shares stories of studying with Del Close and Bernie Sahlens.