Kansas City

Indie Playhouse: Creating Realistic Characters

Some of the most in-demand performers and teachers in the U.S.—like David Razowsky in LA, Jill Bernard in Minneapolis, Joe Bill and TJ Jagadowski in Chicago, Greg Tavaras in South Carolina—have created renowned shows and popular classes based on realistic, vulnerable characters. Being able to improvise in an honest, open-hearted way adds substance to your scenes—a layer of cake underneath the frosting that transforms your work from light entertainment to comedy that resonates.

In this class, we start with your true self as a compelling and powerful launchpad for creating original improvisation. We’ll explore emotion as a driver. We’ll practice letting your on-stage relationship, and how your partner sees you, define your character. We’ll learn to trust assumptions in place of inventions. We’ll practice letting little gifts—eye contact, gestures, inflections—matter enough to have big impact.

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Jill Bernard has been performing with ComedySportz-Twin Cities since 1993, and is a founding member of HUGE Theater in Uptown Minneapolis. Her one-woman improv piece, Drum Machine, has been featured in over forty improv festivals. She has taught and performed improv in Norway, Australia, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Argentina, Bulgaria, Romania, Colombia, Peru, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and over thirty-five of the United States; and also on an episode of MTV “Made.” She is one-half of the duo SCRAM with Joe Bill of the Annoyance Theater. An Artistic Associate of the Chicago Improv Festival, she has studied at the Annoyance Theater, Improv Olympic, the Brave New Workshop and other organizations; and is the recipient of the 2005 Chicago Improv Festival Avery Schreiber Ambassador of Improv Award, and the 2007 Miami Improv Festival award for Best Solo Show. She was also the winner, in January 2000, of the Executive Vice President Award for outstanding contribution to Human Resources, the highest award in the American Express Human Resources function. She’s also the voice of God, the Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary and Ruby in videos for Sparkhouse.

Trish Berrong (Ham Kitty, Brownies Don’t Lie) started performing with Kansas City ComedySportz (now ComedyCity) in 1990, and co-founded the Lighten Up Improv Company, which begat the Kansas City Improv Festival. She’s been instrumental in establishing the local improv community; helped introduce long-form improv to KC players and audiences in the ’90s; has trained hundreds of high school performers; taught improv to newbies, professionals and suits; and blogged relentlessly. She currently performs with the Underground Throwdown record-holding Ham Kitty and in Brownies Don’t Lie with Jill Bernard (HUGE Theater, Drum Machine, Twin Cities ComedySportz). She keeps her pets in expensive cat toys by working for Hallmark Cards as a content strategist.

Upcoming Kansas City Sessions: