Join me and the delightful Maria Schaedler-Luera as we discuss her life as an actor and improviser. She studied with the legendary Augusto Boal and continues to teach his work today. We discuss her move to the states and how that impacted her continuing work with diverse and immigrant folks. For many years Maria, a Brazilian-born educator, and artist studied to be an actor. When she was 15, instead of having a traditional quinceanera, the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, she asked for a trip to New York City. After college, she returned to NY to study at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. We talk about the challenges she faced as an actor, who would audition for Latin roles, but due to looking “too white” was cast as European needing German, French and other accents.
What a great chat I had with the multi-talented Rick Hall. He is truly a Renaissance man who grew up on a farm in central Illinois, in the town of Carrollton, with a population of 2,484! As a young boy, Rick sang and performed with the Carrollton Community Chorus and at church. He attended MacMurray College and he was planning on being a veterinarian, but after auditioning and getting cast in a show he slowly began to grasp the fact that this could be his career. (He actually played a veterinarian twice on the Seinfeld show!)
His improv career began at the Improv Institute in Chicago. The Improv Institute was founded in late 1983 by John Michael Michalski, who would go on to teach at The Second City in Chicago. The Improv Institute was a staple in Chicago and hundreds of local improvisers played there, including Jane Morris, Jeff Michalski, Jonathan Pitts, and Susan Messing.
David Leventhal is the Program Director and founding teacher of Dance for PD. He tells about his journey to becoming a dancer and his career with the Mark Morris Dance Company. Learn how he helped start this amazing program in 2001 when a local support group leader who had a dance background approached the Mark Morris Dance Group with the idea for specialized dance for Parkinson’s classes – even before there was tangible evidence about the benefits of exercise and movement. I’ve taken several of these classes and the combination of simple movements and beautiful music creates a sense of wellbeing, calm, and energy.
I was fortunate to meet Ellen Schnur at the Yes, and Mental Health Conference held at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago, September 2017! We recently reconnect through Beth Boynton, and the seminars Beth has been co-hosting with Ellen on Medical Improv. Ellen and Landon and I did a fun improv scene that you can see here.
Ellen is passionate about experiential learning and helping everyone on the team to “Be the Difference” and work better together. After 25 years in business and training, she grew tired of the endless PowerPoints and toxic cultures. She dared herself to take classes at 2nd City – fell head over heels with improv and moved on to iO and many other theaters. She began studying Applied Improvisation and best practices in leadership, team, and work cultures. Ellen is now Chief Possibility Officer at her company, ImprovTalk, Inc. and collaborates with Jim Mecir, ten year MLB veteran pitcher, born with a club foot, who is the most resilient and inspiring teammate she has ever met.
Join me and meet the multi-talented musician, improviser, actor, and author, Will Hines. Founder of The World’s Greatest Improv School Will is a beloved teacher in the improv world. He started at UCB in NY and then LA. I really enjoyed chatting with such a relaxed and authentic person. We talked about mutual improv teachers like Jimmy Carrane and Jay Sukow.
Daniel is a delightful artist, actor, writer, and improviser that I met in a Susan Messing workshop this summer. He has taught thousands of young and old folks acting and improv and produced many plays. Daniel is one of only four people who graduated — twice— from the Player’s Workshop Of The Second City; once in 1992 and then a few weeks ago after the studio reopened. Daniel is also a 1995 conservatory graduate of the Second City Training Center.
Join me and meet Meet Francine Wolfand Leigh Shein of Pants Optional Comedy. They share their lengthy experience in improvisational theatre and tell us about how they are adjusting to virtual shows on Zoom to entertain and keep people laughing.
Pants Optional Comedy is an online improv comedy short-form show with an emcee and actors from Ohio, Florida, and the United Kingdom. The show was conceived in May 2020 when producer, Francine Wolf of ZaZu Productions, LLC, was quarantined at home and live and on-stage acting was halted. Having toured with a one-woman improv show, “Half-Baked Boomer,” for the previous two years, Francine thought it would be more fun to do improv with seasoned improvisers and friends.
Join 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.”
Join 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.
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.