Improv in the Third Act

“You can’t help growing older, but you don’t have to grow old.” George Burns

Improv Anonymous – WIth Improv Master and my first teacher Craig Price at the start of my Third Act

Almost a decade ago, my family sat in the hospital waiting room, waiting to hear the outcome of the surgery I was undergoing to repair the damage caused by a sudden cerebral aneurysm. My surgeons appeared with the good and the bad news for my family. I had survived the surgery, but my surgeon warned, it was too early to know if I would recovery my memory or ever speak again. To which my brother responded, “Too bad about the memory.”

As you can tell, I grew up in a family that laughed a lot. The 1950s were the stage for the “First Act” of my life. It was filled with hours of us gathered around a black and white television laughing along with “Leave it to Beaver,” “I Love Lucy,” Imogene Coco, Sid Caeser, Jack Parr, Red Skelton, Danny Kaye, Ernie Kovacs, George & Gracie, Carl Reiner. Regardless of what was happening in the world, these shows made you laugh and feel better.

Inspired by these comedy greats and by the work and teachings of Norman Cousins and others like him on “The Healing Power of Laughter & Play,” I used my “Second Act” to become a social worker and tour the country holding workshops to teach other therapists to use humor and play to help their clients.

I did recover my memory and to my brother’s dismay, my ability to speak following the surgery. But recovery took time and a friend suggested I try an acting class in a local community theater to help me through this period. My first classes were in a rundown former bar that had been abandoned during the great recession. Some of my classmates were actual rats and cockroaches. The teacher of the class was a charismatic fellow who taught improvisational theater. Although following directions was challenging, I had so much fun at the first class that I decided to sign up for a six-week class and have continued taking Improvisational Theatre classes and workshops ever since.

Improvising as the mother of the bride in Who Killed the Rabbi

So, there I was in my “Third Act,” recovering from brain surgery and a double knee and double hip replacements.  I was the eldest member of my improv group and I was not as agile as the predominantly young white men who made up the group. If I played a game that required sitting on the floor, I wasn’t sure if I could get up again! I suppose it’s not surprising that I was often cast as someone’s mother or grandmother. But I kept going because my teacher encouraged and validated me and soon, I began teaching as well. Being part of that improv team and working on supporting and loving each other was an incredible mind-blowing experience for me.

I wanted to learn everything I could about this improv and went to different parts of the country to study improv at festivals. Each time I attended a workshop, I came home with renewed energy and commitment to play. For 9 years I was fortunate to attend the Annual Improv Festival at Will Luera’s FST. I learned from so many terrific teachers and discovered that I could make choices! Through the festival, I met many folks that I’ve studied with on Skype and continue to do so on Zoom.

With my dear friend Dr. Daniel Wiener at his Rehearsals-for-Growth Improv for Therapists Workshop.

I left that team about five years ago and ever since then I’ve been teaching improv which I have learned in my “Third Act,” which is my love and my mission. As a psychotherapist I’ve applied improvisational theater techniques to my work with people with Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases along with their care partners, people with anxiety and depression, and people on the Autism spectrum.

The results have been terrific, and I believe I get as much out of teaching than my students do.

 

Ed Asner joined me for my Improv Interviews podcast

Several years ago, I started a podcast called improv interviews. Because there were a limited class-opportunities in my area, I wanted to talk to other improvisers, play with them and learn more about improvisation. Through my podcast — Improv Interviews — I met terrific therapists and other professionals who use improv clinically to help others. I have been blessed to interview some of my favorite improv teachers including David Razowksi, Jay Sukow, Aretha Sills, Jimmy Carrane, Susan Messing, Racheal Mason, Joe Bill, and a host of other wonderful improvisers.

Improv became the theme of my “Third Act” when I was 61 years old. I’m 71 now and am thrilled to meet other improvisers like Miki Manting and the folks at “Vintage Improv” who are making their “Third Act,” the best one ever by embracing improv.

The Pandemic has hit the theatre and improv world very hard. Improvisers rose to the challenge and immediately began offering online classes and workshops to support people through this difficult time. Being guided by Acceptance and Yes, and… we are resilient folks and giving hope and inspiration around the world.

Margot’s next workshop, “Improv for Wellness” starts soon. Contact her via email for more info: margotescott@mac.com

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Bird Liverpool Comedy Improv

Emma Bird
Emma Bird

Join me today and meet Emma Bird, the creator of Liverpool Comedy Improv, a leading improv teaching school. Emma founded, developed, performed, and directed three improv teams: BossBirds (current); The Unscriptables, and The Hee Ha’s.creator of Liverpool Improv Comedy. Emma is an improviser, teacher, and professional actor and director. She has been improvising since 2007. She was trained in improv by The Maydays (Brighton/London) and has been on training courses and workshops led by world-renowned improvisers: Rachel Mason & Susan Messing (Second City, Chicago); Rich & Rebecca Sohn (Annoyance Theatre, Chicago); Michael Gellman (Second City, Toronto), Shawn Kinley (Loose Moose Improv Theatre, Canada), Armando Diaz (iO, Chicago & Magnet Theatre NYC); Jaime Moyer, (Second City Hollywood and  Westside Comedy LA) at Copenhagen International Improv Festival (Apr 2019)

Continue reading “Emma Bird Liverpool Comedy Improv”

Miki Manting and why her “Vintage Improv Festival” is a gift for improvisors over 50

Miki ManningJoin me today and meet Improvisor, OBGYN, and creator of the term “Vintage Improv,” Miki Manting. Miki talks to us about how she became involved in improv and what inspired her to start this festival where improvisers who are fifty-years-old and over perform. At Improv theaters where casts were largely made up of improvisers in their 20’s and early 30’s vintage improvisers often experience the phenomenon of invisibility. Miki talks about how Vintage Improv changes that dynamic and about her upcoming 2020 Vintage Improv Festival (VIF) that runs September 10-14, 2020 https://www.vintageimprov.com/ In addition to the festival the VIF hosts several improv classes each week with improvisers that include Jay Sukow, David Razowski, Jill Bernard and Faustino Solis.
 

Continue reading “Miki Manting and why her “Vintage Improv Festival” is a gift for improvisors over 50″

Peter Margaritis is the Accidental Accountant who proves Improv is No Joke

Peter Margaritis
Peter MargaritisJoin me and meet Peter Margaritis, CPA, CGMA, business coach, and author of Improv is No Joke, who uses applied improvisation to inspire people to achieve higher levels of success in their business. Through the improvisation tenets of Yes, And, keep it simple, collaborate and experience, Peter teaches his clients to embrace C.H.A.N.G.E. (Creative | Humor | Aspire | Navigate | Gracious | Ethical) and realize their visions and goals. I was lucky to meet Peter through my good friend and improv coach Jay Sukow, and I know you will be glad to get to know him too.
 
When asked about why he uses applied improv in his work, Peter says
“Applied improv is all about the ability to draw upon your experience, knowledge, and education to apply them in a way that meets the needs of the person you are talking to or working with – and it can be taught.”
 

To learn more about Peter, click the links below. The Accidental Accountant 2018 – 2019 NSA Ohio Chapter President

Author: Improv Is No Joke

Author: Taking The Numb Out of Numbers

Podcast: Change Your Mindset

Podcast on C-Suite Radio: Change Your Mindset

Some of Peter’s clients Speaking Demonstration

Contact Peter 614-668-2936

Visit his website petermargaritis.com

Check out his YouTube channel  

 

You might want to listen to my fascinating discussions with other improv teachers and innovators including Deana Criess and Patrick McCartney.

*Improv Interviews podcast‘ is introduced by Susan L. Parker of yourinternationalvoice.com

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Please keep me updated about:

Patrick McCartney and the gifts of learning and teaching improv

Patrick McCartney Improv Interviews
Join me and meet the multi-talented Patrick McCartney who is a talented actor, improviser, and teacher who has studied with and taught some of the most respected names in the entertainment industry. We learn about the great teachers who inspired Patrick’s teaching style and the effects of COVID-19 on the industry from his home in NYC.
 
Patrick’s improv journey began in Chicago in the late 1990s where he studied with the legendary Del Close and Mick Napier. He spent two years in Chicago’s Second City Touring Company Blue Co where he toured the country with Ali Farahnakian, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey. Currently, Patrick teaches all advanced levels of improv, as well as Acting for Scripted Comedy at the People’s Improv Theater in NYC. Some of Patrick’s former students include Eric Stonestreet, Julie Klausner, and Ed Helms.
 

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Patrick McCartney and the gifts of learning and teaching improv”

Deana Criess on the Joys of Musical Improv

Deana Criess PhotoJoin me and meet my friend Deana Criess, as we talk about the magic of musical improv and her work using improvisation games and techniques with her students at the Perkins School for the Blind. Deana is a professional improviser, master instructor, director, writer, and performer with a specialization in applied improvisation. Deana’s work has been featured on PBS, NPR, KBS (the Korean Broadcasting System), The Boston Globe, CNN, and Slate.com. Her original musical comedy, Lube had a sold-out premiere run in Boston.
 

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Deana Criess on the Joys of Musical Improv”

Clay Drinko Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition

Clay Drinko Photo

Join me and meet Clay Drinko who is an educator, an improviser, and the author of Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition. He earned his Ph.D. in drama and theatre studies from Tufts University and a Master of Science in education and a Master of Arts in performance studies. Clay started improvising over two decades ago and experienced firsthand the powerful effects of finding flow onstage. This started a lifelong journey to understand how improv affects the brain and how to harness this understanding to improve our everyday lives.

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Clay Drinko Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition”

Izzy Gesell Applied Improv in the time of COVID19

Izzy Gesell

Join me and meet Izzy Gesell, an organizational alchemist who helps individuals and organizations transform their thinking from commonplace to extraordinary. He is skilled at delivering meaningful material in a way that makes participants enjoy their time with him.

Izzy is also the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-author of Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on Improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook. His latest project is a deck of cards with improv games on them. Learn more about Izzy at izzyg.org

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Izzy Gesell Applied Improv in the time of COVID19”

Kristin Krueger P.h.D. Neuropsychologist and Research Scientist Studying Improv’s Therapeutic Benefits

Join me and meet Dr. Kristin Krueger who inspired me to use improvisational theatre techniques in my own practice. She is an internationally known Research Scientist at Rush University Medical Center and a Chicago based neuropsychologist who wrote the first evidence-based research paper on the effectiveness of Improv for Anxiety. The results of the study conducted by Krueger along with two Illinois Tech research collaborators were published in the paper “Thera-Prov: A Pilot Study of Improv Used to Treat Anxiety and Depression” in the Journal of Mental Health (July 2017).

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Kristin Krueger P.h.D. Neuropsychologist and Research Scientist Studying Improv’s Therapeutic Benefits”

Jay Sukow Improv Interviews

Jay Sukow Improv Interviews

Join me today to meet Jay Sukow, an actor, director, filmmaker and improviser, who has been performing scripted and improvised work professionally for over 20 years. Jay has trained with improv legends that include Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Jon Favreau, David Razowsky, Keith Johnstone, Dick Schaal, Del Close, and Mick Napier. Jay is a faculty member of The Second City and has performed regularly as part of their “Those Who Can’t” Faculty Jam.

Click to Listen on Apple Podcasts Continue reading “Jay Sukow Improv Interviews”