Welcome to Improv Interviews with Margot Escott, LCSW. Improv Interviews are podcasts with innovative improvisers from all over the world and therapists who are using improvisation in their clinical practice.
More about Margot Escott, LCSW: Margot Escott incorporates over 35 years of experience as a counselor, speaker, and teacher in her wellness classes that are designed to use humor, play and improv to achieve well being. In addition to teaching and performing improv professionally, Margot has presented workshops and seminars on “Therapeutic Value of Humor and Play” on a national level and was a featured speaker at the Chicago “Yes, and” conference on Improvisation and Mental Health.
What a treat to speak with Lisa Kays, LCSW who studied improvisational theater prior to becoming a master’s level social worker. She has been using improv as group therapy and to train therapists in this exciting art form. Lisa leads Improv This, Improv Thatprograms and groups that integrate principles and practices of various modalities to support individuals in trying out new behaviors.
Join me and meet a man who is lovingly known as the Godfather of improv. During his thirty-nine-year engagement in Improvisation Robert Lowe has been a player, an Improv dancer, a teacher, a director, a producer, and a pioneer in the uses of Improvisation for purposes other than performance. He has taught Improvisation, and stand-up comedy, in addition to personal advocacy.
Join me and meet the award-winning improv master Michael J Gellman who now resides in Ontario Canada and is Artistic Director of The Process Theatre. He teaches at Loyalist College as well as Master Workshops for Second City International and Artistic New Directions NYC. He is an alumnus of the Second City mainstage and was a resident director for Second City in Canada and the USA for 25 years. He was Artistic Director of the Second City Toronto where his shows were nominated for 7 Dora Mavor Moore Awards including twice for Outstanding Direction, nominated for Best Director for Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award, and won a Chalmers Award for Best Director. He is a senior faculty and founding member of the Second City Training Center where he was a Program Head and also Director of the NY training Center.
Today we speak with Lisa Bany and Angela Nino, trained Improv directors, performers and creative professionals who teach and facilitate the use of applied Improvisation in the improvement of mental health. Their organization is called Improv Therapy Group and I am proud to have recently been added to their advisory board. Lisa and Angela are not therapists, but they work with licensed therapists and group treatment facilities to bring Improv into the mental health environment.
The husband and wife team, Carla and Craig Cackowski are the creators of the two-person improv show “Orange Tuxedo” in Los Angeles, California. The perform “Close Quarters”, with a focus on creating grounded relationships formed by eccentric characters. If you like comedy, you may have seen Craig wear various mustaches and costume pieces on Comedy Central’s Drunk History. If you like drunken history, you may have seen Carla drink various beers on Instagram.
They say no one has done more for the art of improvisation than Jane Morris, and when you listen to this interview you will learn why. Jane has improvised, written, performed, and directed shows around the world. Beginning in Chicago, Jane helped found the Second City ETC with her husband Jeff Michalski, and later formed her own theaters in Los Angeles.
As an actress with over 58 credits to her name she is best known for her roles in Raising Helen, True Lies, Frankie and Johnny and recently in Veep.
Part 2 of my podcast with Gary Schwartz, an award-winning TV and film actor, director, comedian and a master improvisational acting coach whose 30 years as a performer and improv teacher has helped transform the lives of thousands of people, both on- and off-screen. He studied and worked with Viola Spolin,the mother of modern improv, and is the only master teacher to have ever earned an endorsement from both Viola Spolin and her son, Paul Sills, the co-founder and director of The Second City.
I met John Dawson through our mutual friend Nick Johne from Chicago’s Second City. They had worked together at Toronto’s Second City before they both immigrated to Chicago and Dublin. His first foray into using improvisation for improved mental health was 7 years ago when he was approached to design and facilitate a series of Dramatic Arts for Wellness Workshops for D.C.U. (Dublin City University) in association with St. James Hospital Dublin’s mental health division. John’s taught his improv-based workshops in Critical thinking, Creativity and Effective Communication/Collaboration Skills for corporate and institutional clients such as Google, Airbnb, DropBox, Twitter Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin City University, and H.S.E. (Health Service Executive, Ireland). You can learn more about John Dawson at:email@example.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In part one of our podcast we talk about John’s development as an improvisor and also his connection with our dear friend Nick Johne.
Improvisational Theatre Games for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their care partners is not just fun but therapeutic.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement disorder that affects up to 1 million people in the US and doctors diagnose 60,000 new cases each year. Improvisational Theater Games, based on the work of Viola Spolin, are being used clinically all over the world. Improv classes are being offered for stress management, Autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and other neuromuscular diseases.