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 Improv a — 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.
What a joy to get to know Stephen Owen! We met at the beginning of the pandemic and were in Spolin classes with Gary Schwartz and Aretha Sills. I had no idea how much Steve had immersed himself in Improvisational Theatre this past year, even taking the Teacher Training with Aretha Sills! We also discovered that we were both fans of Boal’s work.
Although Stephen had some experience in drama in high school, he chose a path leading to a Ph.D. in political science with a specialty in criminal justice. He teaches criminal justice at Radford University, so his students are college students who plan to enter criminal justice professions, including law enforcement. The unique classes he developed focus on building observation, communication, and empathy in the context of police-community relations.
Amey Goerlich is one incredible improviser and human being. We met through our mutual friend, Jay Sukow and I’m so grateful! We chatted about her Improv Story and how she taught kindergarteners to make a movie! She is so full of life and comfortable to speak with. I felt like I’d known her forever! She shared stories of her early days as an improviser and our mutual love of the fabulous Jane Morris.
After being in LA, Amey made the move to Denver where she runs her theatre, Chaos Bloom. While we were speaking there were finishing touches being made to her theatre and wait till you hear about her wallpaper in the bathrooms. Amey has practiced inclusivity for many years and is a pioneer in online improv as the artistic director of e-mprov.com. She was so generous with her time – we even did a 20- minute scene. Please take a listen and explore the happy world of Amey Goerlich!
Meet Oluwadamilola Apotieri, a wonderful humanitarian, improviser and so much more. Listen to how he got into improv, became a pioneer of virtual improv, teaching kids, playing in the virtual space versus in person, using theatre as a tool for social justice and more. We met through our mutual friend, Beth Boynton, RN Oluwadamilola speaks of his childhood and passion for playing and performing. He put on his first show at age 7 and by 9 years old had his own TV show. As challenging as the pandemic is, it has also provided some amazing opportunities. He is part of the team that organized the online edition of the yearly Nigerian Children Theatre festival. This is taking place May 27 and May 28 and there’s still time to register. This is an exciting festival that you won’t want to miss! He and his team have been rehearsing online with a small group of delightful Nigerian students over the last couple of months.
I first saw Mithra Vankipuram on Jay Sukow’s podcast and she blew me away. We had such a great chat and she speaks openly about her journey in the arts and in engineering! Two quotes from her that I really love are “to remember to suspend disbelief” and “improv lives in the eyes”. Mithra and I talk about the challenges of “performing for the audience,” and seeking approval as opposed to seeing them as a part of the environment. As she said, “My job in improv is being receptive to information around, opening my body and mind to all possibilities.”