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Sunday, August 11 • 9:40am - 12:00pm
AINx Talks

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  • All The Stage Is A Lab - John Maloney

    The stage is a laboratory: a space where characters, scenes, and stories can be seen as hypothetical investigations of human interaction. Throughout history, experiments on stage have produced tremendous influences and effects in our cultures, languages, histories, and economies. As such, performance has been an area of study in the humanities since the birth of academia, generally with a focus on form and content. More recently, the field of performance studies has evaluated the concept of performance through the lenses of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and philosophy, or the “soft” sciences, as they are sometimes referred to. But, what of the “hard” sciences? Intense spatial, temporal, and biologic forces are at work whenever an audience and performers gather and generate the specialized field of effects we refer to as a performance. How might the principles of physics, anatomy, chemistry, or biology be applied to better understand the act of performance? These sciences are regularly used to describe and understand our natural world. If we consider a performance to be a staged reflection of our world, it seems a logical hypothesis that an analysis of how the laws and dynamics of these disciplines are at play during a performance might yield valuable insights. With this theater as our laboratory, we will identify how these various scientific disciplines participate and intermingle creatively in exquisite complexity whenever people join together to discover a performance.

  • Bridging the Generation Gap: Applied Improv for Lasting Social Change - Joel Veenstra and Yael Schy

    We live in a world where there is not much interaction between generations. Improv can bridge this generation gap. We will present a practical case study of follow up on an Intergenerational improv program bridging the gap between college students and older adults in a university setting. We conducted participant surveys at the beginning and end of the 2018 program, and then facilitated a 2019 follow-up reunion of participants one year after the program ended. Furthermore, a major problem in the field of training is the lack of follow-up evaluations beyond just "smile sheets" at the conclusion of a workshop, in order to prove tangible, sustainable results and lasting change over time, as a result of the training intervention. For this reason, we have conducted follow-up research at the reunion. In this AIN talk, we will show footage of intergenerational activities, interviews with participants of both age groups, and research results from from both the original program and the follow up reunion a year later. We will tie this to current research on generational differences in society and organizations between Millenials and Baby Boomers.The presenters are excited and proud that their project will be showcased in Volume 3 of the Applied Improvisation series of case studies by Theresa Dudeck and Caitlin McClure!
  • Improv For Life-Building Community Behind Bars - Elena and Martin R. Lichtenthaler

    Can Applied Improvisation transform America’s prison system just as much as today’s business
    world? Yes, and with prisons being high-risk environments, the impact of Applied Improvisation is even more significant. In 2019, Elena and Martin R. Lichtenthaler designed and taught the course “Improv for Life” at San Quentin State Prison as part of the Prison University Project. Over the course of three months, they successfully led seventeen incarcerated students to explore, practice, and perform the core concepts of improvisational theatre. Through supporting each other, practicing generosity, and celebrating risk, students succeeded in building a trusting and safe environment, where they could show vulnerability, fail good naturedly, and expand their range of emotions. All while breaking down racial boundaries. Beyond the classroom, students found themselves able to listen with increased compassion, have more meaningful conversations, and better (re)connect with their families outside prison, ultimately taking important steps towards their rehabilitation. Studies of related programs show that practicing improvisation inside prisons leads to a reduction of behavioral infractions, and a cut in recidivism rates. Come to this talk to hear Elena and Martin share their experiences of teaching improvisation at San Quentin State Prison, and leave inspired to build community behind bars.
  • From Intention To Action: AI In Trauma-Informed Settings - Mary DeMichele
    Trauma Informed Care is pervasive in educational and clinical settings. While these settings adopt treatment models and interventions that best serve their population, without effective implementation, Trauma Informed Care is merely a buzzword with unfulfilled intentions. Compounding inadequate training, is the fact that Trauma Informed Setting are made up of staff and clients with their own boundaries, unknown trigger point and for many, their own trauma. With the staff’s own struggles in connecting, communicating or building relationships, this can exacerbate the challenge in bringing treatment that embraces concepts like acceptance, attunement, empathy, playfulness and more to clients.

    Short-form comedy improv game structures are a fast and effective way to equip staff, across departments, with the experiential understanding and practice needed to move Trauma Informed Care from intention to actions. 


John Maloney

John Maloney is a theatre director who specializes in the development of new works.  He has directed and assistant-directed theatre, opera, musical theatre, and dance on Broadway, Off Broadway, and regionally throughout the USA and Taiwan.  He also regularly teaches performance... Read More →

Yael Schy

Yael Schy is a leader in using expressive arts in organizational learning and development. A founding member of AIN, she is principal of Dramatic Strides® Consulting, specializing in leadership development, communication skills, teambuilding and creative decision-making techniques... Read More →

Joel Veenstra

Joel Veenstra teaches improvisation, stage management, and collaborative production at the University of California, Irvine. He is active in the improvisation and applied improvisation world and serves on the Board of AIN and as the co-director of Global Improvisation Initiative... Read More →

Elena and Martin R. Lichtenthaler

Elena and Martin R. Lichtenthaler are seasoned improvisers and Applied Improvisation coaches. Beyond teaching “Improv for Life” at San Quentin State Prison, they have worked with organizations, such as the University of California, Berkeley, the Goethe-Institute San Francisco... Read More →

Mary DeMichele

Mary DeMichele is a coach, consultant, author and improviser with over 25 years of experience in educational, clinical and professional settings. She is the author of One Rule Improv: The Fast, Easy, No Fear Approach to Teaching, Learning and Applying Improv and  Improv ’n Ink... Read More →

Sunday August 11, 2019 9:40am - 12:00pm EDT
The Wang Center - Theater