A new start for me and the Improv Resource Center

Over the past few years, I’ve been a co-owner and the Artistic Director of Under The Gun Theater in Chicago. During that time, I’ve had the pleasure of producing many shows at our space in Wrigleyville, and being a part of an incredible ensemble of performers. On the whole, it has been a wonderful experience. I’ve learned much about producing and marketing shows. And I’ve sharpened my vision of the kinds of shows I’d like to direct and perform in.

However, after discussions with my business partner, we agreed to part ways. Our projections for the company were different. And week by week, our visions for the theater and our strategies for getting there were diverging more and more. In the end, she offered to buy me out and I agreed. As of about a month ago, I resigned as the Artistic Director of Under The Gun Theater and notified our ensemble and staff shortly after.

I also formally started a new company, one that I founded nearly 20 years ago, the Improv Resource Center. For the first time, the IRC will have a physical place in the real world to call home. From there I will be offering classes in improvisation and sketch comedy. And I will produce a number of shows in the next year, but at a much more reasonable pace. Instead of directing and producing a dozen new shows a year, I look forward to working on 2-4 shows instead.

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Behavior is a Game, A Workshop with Kevin Mullaney

Kevin MullaneySaturday, June 1, 2013
11:00 am – 3:00 pm

At Upstairs Gallery
5219 N Clark
Third Floor

A Workshop with Kevin Mullaney
Behavior is a Game
This is a four hour workshop with CIF Artistic Director Kevin Mullaney.

Observe your scene partner, call out their behavior, respond impulsively and let the circumstances tumble out to make a game.

Some of the most fun games to play in a scene come from the emotional interplay of the characters. One player’s behavior inspires an impulsive response in their partner. Patterns of behavior emerge and help form behavior-based games. Justifications bubble up from your unconscious to make sense of what’s happening which leads to more ideas of how to play the game.


For more information about what this class will be about, take a look at the following essays:

This one day intensive class is open to improvisors of all levels.

Next tuesday night improv performance class postponed 2 weeks

mullaney-with-beard-square-150x150Due mainly to my ongoing preparations for the Chicago Improv Festival, I have rescheduled the start date of my Tuesday night class. It will now be starting on April 9th and go to June 4th. The class is for intermediate and advanced performers and includes 4 performances. The cost is $199.

Feedback from previous Improvising from the Gut workshops

I’m offering a two day intensive version of my Improvising from the Gut workshop. It’s coming up in two weeks.

I thought people might want to read some feedback from previous versions of this workshop:

“What I got, was an amazingly intense experience that demanded everyone involved to put their guard down and truly emote and share… What took place in the scene work was extraordinary… At first it was interesting how well we were all doing, by the end it was almost surreal as to how well we had worked together and what it would have been if it were a complete show.”

– Patrick McInnis

“I liked everything about the class… the warm ups were perfect… the exercises lead up to the scene work well… and there was a causal but learning atmosphere tended by Kevin… and his notes were specific and personal to each individual yet as an observer to scenes I learned as well. Kevin has an ability to and break down complex organic thoughts and simplify them… therefore making it easier to ‘grab hold’ of and ‘work with’ these ideas. I came out of the workshop with a better understanding of MY improv and I think this would be a great class for 6-8 weeks.”

– Ben Jones

“Your workshop was one of the my top highlights from the Del Close Marathon. I found it immediately useful in my work the next night. I was more patient, more observant, and less anguish about inventing things to say than I’ve been in months. You opened my mind and emotions in a way I’ve not experienced in my improvisation training. I am telling all my friends to take this class! It will not only make you a better improviser. I dare say it will make you a better person.”

– Justin Zell, Co-owner/Instructor, Steel City Improv Theater

“I would definitely recommend this workshop. It’s one of the few that seems to directly improve acting muscles. It strips away everything except the actors affecting each other, and gives you practice using your natural energies to inform a scene. The exercises in this class transformed the way I perform on stage for the better.”

Will Hines, The Stepfathers, UCB Theatre, Co-Host of the UCB Theatre New York Podcast, and the Associate Academic Supervisor for the UCB Training Center

“Yes, I’d totally recommend this workshop. You don’t have to think about what you should be doing or what’s right for the scene, you can just do whatever impulse you have. It’s quite freeing!”

Kirk Damato

“It lets both new and experienced improvisers hone a very particular skill — observing and responding to your scene partner — that is fundamental to all improv, but for whatever reason can get lost in the shuffle of daily improv classes and performance. It feels like a back-to-basics approach without being simplistic or boring for experienced improvisers.”

– Silvija Ozols, The Stepfathers, UCB Theatre

“I’d absolutely recommend this workshop to a friend, and already have.”

– David Siegel

“I took eight workshops during [the Del Close Marathon], and (not to disparage the other wonderful classes I took) yours was by far the most helpful to me. I get recurring notes about staying connected to scenes emotionally, and your exercises were perfect for that. The going from repetition into scenework exercise was particularly useful for me, and it completely got me out of my left brain. I would highly recommend the workshop to friends. It’s unlike anything else I’ve taken. I felt like it broke my brain in a great way.”

– Brynna Campbell

“I whole-heartedly believe that every improviser should take this workshop. I can only speak for New York, but this workshop helped maintain performers’ authenticity in a scene, no matter what the scenario. That’s something everyone can use.”

– Cory Palmer

” Improvisers, in general, need more of this kind of training. You kept us up on our feet most
of the time and your insights on acting, as well as improv, were
always helpful.”

– Mark Grenier, Magnet Theater

“The awareness/reminder of gut emotional reaction as a tool created opportunities in scenes the very next time I walked on stage.”

– William Cybriwsky

“I enjoyed how the workshop built patiently on itself. The Meisner-ish techniques are really great for people like me who is UCB trained and always looking for game. This made me jolt out of that and be organic from start to end.”

– Peter Kim, Executive Director, End Games Improv

Feedback from recent students

Here is some of the feedback I got from my last Improv Performance Workshop. Robert Carter has been my assistant for the last couple of classes, so some of the notes refer to him as well.

Here is some of the feedback I got from my last Improv Performance Workshop. Robert Carter has been my assistant for the last couple of classes, so some of the notes refer to him as well.

“My favorite thing about the class was that it was focused on ‘doing.’ We spent a lot of time up on our feet, doing scenes and running pieces. In this class I felt like you and Robert struck just the right balance between sharing your point of view as teachers with the class and then allowing us to experience putting your lessons into practice.” –John Sexton

“What did I like? Really, just about everything. I like that we spent most of our time on our feet ‘doing.’ And that exercises seemed to be pulled from a broad spectrum of improv and acting disciplines. And that our notes, whether group or individual, were always reasonable and applicable. And that you and Robert both have (and impart) a real passion for the craft. In short, I derived more from 8 weeks with Kevin Mullaney than I did from 40 weeks at Some Unnamed Chicago Improv Institution.” -Mathew Fenton

“It was a great experience, and I learned so much from you, Robert and everyone else. A lot of the exercises we worked on have really helped inform my process, both as a performer and as a coach; in particular, I think the explanation of how to form a situation at the beginning of a scene let me learn new ways to approach setups and initiations. In addition, the acknowledgement/nodding exercise helped give me new ways to support scenes I didn’t initiate. This has been especially useful for me.” -Phil Caron

“My favorite part of the class was that each week felt like a response to the previous week/most recent show, rather than like it was simply the slave to a rigid preordained curriculum. I loved that our strengths and weaknesses (as both individuals and as a class) were not only being identified and pointed out, but then actually worked on, which is an experience I’ve never had in an improv class before. I genuinely feel like there were concepts that were huge weaknesses for me at the beginning of the class that made legitimate progress towards becoming strengths by the end of it, as opposed to just being vague conceptions of things I should be conscious of in the future, which is what has often happened in other classes I’ve taken.

“Also, I think it’s important to note that this class was really fun. Everyone was really supportive, and I feel like each person’s unique style was celebrated in such a way that it led everyone to do better scenework than they might have done otherwise. I feel like the class—occasionally, at least—brought out the best in me, and that definitely was also one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much (and would love to do it again!).” -Kyle Reinhard

I am offering two more improv performance classes for the new year. The January class on Tuesday nights is sold out, but there is still room in the Monday night class starting in February.