I’m available for coaching teams, whether established or just at the start of their journey.
Coaches serve a number of functions:
- providing an outside eye at rehearsals
- helping teams get their purpose and focus explicit, and holding them to it
- troubleshooting and identifying issues
- providing exercises and training dedicated to bringing out the best in that group of people.
Coaching can take a number of different forms, depending on how established the group is and the need. Here are some examples of how I have worked before.
I co-founded the Open Heart Theatre house team in Newcastle and co-developed my initial concept for The Hang with them over an intensive period.
I recruited and coached people interested in organic long-form improvisation, working intensively with them as the group Carnosexual (later The Dreaming) in London.
In Wuerzburg students worked with me over several improvisation courses, and went on to form the group Improtent for which I provided further coaching to work on specific factors leading up to their first show.
As part of my tenure as invited artist at the Dubai Courtyard Playhouse, I provided warmups and training sessions for the Courtyard Players and presented them with new formats.
I sub-coached the Monkey Toast team Crosstown Traffic, filling in for their regular coach on and off for several months.
I have done one-off outside-eye sessions for a number of groups, who were eager for fresh input or to address a particular question. These include London groups Big Now and Beings, Teatr Improwizowany Hofesinka in Warsaw, and Mad Improv of Madrid. In addition I have done an extended weekend coaching with the group Improfusion Tübingen in Germany.
All of these workshops have been run internationally, either at festivals or as an invited instructor.
Often a workshop that has been developed for one purpose (a shorter time-slot at a festival) can function as well or better with more time. I have explicitly noted when a workshop has already been run over different durations, but am happy to discuss doing this with any of the workshops below.
Heart Ache – Finding the fun in suffering
In real life we don’t want to panic or be threatened, but on the stage this can create some of the funniest scenes. In this workshop we’ll find ways to suffer and get in trouble, and see exactly how fun it can be to hit rock bottom… and keep going. We’ll also practice torturing others, creating the trouble your partner needs. This is an interplay between two sensitive dancers that helps improve key improv skills. So grab your partner… and get ready to squeeze.
Has been run anywhere from four hours to a two-day workshop
Freeform improvisation is play that keeps moving: scenes spill into each other, and warp from scenes into motion or commentary. It creates highly thematic and poetic pieces, or mischievous, comedic ones, all from a single word and by committing to the group mind. Empowering edit techniques, using our words to feed the group intelligence, and honouring every physical offer to create work bigger than any of us.
Run as a one-day workshop
Emotions are the engine that power every great improvised scene. By exploring different emotions and how we can use them, we open up the possibilities of a scene and find different colours for painting our show. We’ll build a vocabulary of the most classic emotional responses, and recognise how some emotional moves can lead to effortless success.
With that in our back pocket, we will get to go to stranger places – unusual feelings and mixed emotions. By bringing levels into our emotions we can also find more satisfying ways to play content that can be tricky, and create stories and situations that are realistic and compelling.
Run from 3 hours to a two-day workshop
Just Add Colour
When our improv scenes feel thin and sketchy, it’s because we’ve drawn the lines, but forgotten to colour in. In this workshop we’re in no hurry to get ahead; instead, we’ll take time to bring every part of the scene to life. We’ll run our fingers over every suggestion, and find the joy in filling things up until they overflow – and spill out into the next place we get to be.
Run as a 3 hour workshop
Happy Days Are Here Again
The power of positivity in improvisation is immense. But it’s all to easy to let negative energies creep into scenes, and we can find every way to justify it. In this class, we will be the high priests of positivity and see how far it can take us, even in situations where it seems impossible. The stories that we create will be ones to remember.
Run as a 3 hour workshop
In this workshop we’ll make a character and then clamber around their family tree, scene by scene. This is a way to explore how both similarities and contrasts make for good improvisation, and find fun ways to connect scenes together. This workshop will help you develop instincts for how to populate the world of your characters, as well as a simple show format for you to take away.
Run as a 3 hour workshop
Other formats I can train for
There are a number of other formats that I did not design but have experience in running, such as the Harold, Pretty Flower, and Monoscene. I also have experience in training Maestro groups on behalf of the International Theatresports Institute.
I have run improvisation for applied purposes, including with the Playhouse Theatre’s corporate improvisation programme in Dubai, and bespoke sessions for scientists and designers. For these projects it’s great to work closely with a subject matter expert or member of the relevant community to develop an experience that is fun, accessible and relevant. Often I draw upon my experience in psychological science and other interests, and can blend experiential content together with presentations or discussion groups. For a write-up of a particularly in-depth, project, see this collaboration with maths professor Edmund Harriss.
Improvisation for Leadership
I’ve run authentic leadership workshops at Kings College for various courses (Business Management, Human Resource Management, Healthcare). I was invited to Atlantic College for a weekend to talk and run workshops for the entire student year (160) on leadership and emotional intelligence. And I’ve provided one-to-one coaching to business leaders on principles of charisma and leadership.
I have run several sessions at the Uncivilisation festival for people coming to terms with climate change and the grief that understanding can produce, under titles such as Improvising Uncertainty and The Honesty of Children, whose description follows.
Coming home means carrying uncivilisation amongst our friends, our families, our neighbours. Sometimes it can be difficult to share our feelings from the festival when we arrive home. Sometimes we swallow them and wish we didn’t. This session helps us to explore how to carry our opinions with lightness, exploring honesty through games and stories we make together. Using improvisation techniques, we see how play doesn’t always mean pretend.
Heart to Heart scenework course
Open Worlds exploration course
Heartcore Introduction to Improvisation (with Will Steele)
Core Principles (with Will Steele)
Interviews include Karlsruhe Improv Festival 2019
I have run work using trance masks in a variety of ways, from evening tasters to one-day sessions, to weekends to intensive 5-day courses. Most of this work has been done with Will Steele, although I also work alone.