JO CHAUVIN took the very first class offered at The Institution Theater back in 2008, and, despite hiding at the back of the class for the first two years, enjoyed herself so much that she stayed as a student for 4 1/2 years.
Jo has performed at 4 of the 5 Austin theatres and has participated in many improv workshops, led by such improv greats as Keith Johnstone, Laura Hall, and Jill Bernard. Jo is a member of The Better Half, an improv troupe with local legend Regina Soto. She also performed with Flying Theater Machine, a weekly improvised children’s show, for two years. Jo performs improv, scripted work, and hosts many shows around Austin.
She is extremely happy to teach Level 101 and seeing the light in the students’ eyes as they get comfortable onstage, have fun, and make an improv breakthrough.
Improv 201, Comedy Writing, Make Your Movie Now!
TOM BOOKER started studying improvisation in 1986 at The Second City Training Center in Chicago before studying with legendary improv guru Del Close at ImprovOlympic (iO) where he performed with the infamous house troupe, Blue Velveeta. He is also a founding member of Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre where, among other things, he performed in their Off-Broadway production of The Real Live Brady Bunch at the world famous Village Gate Theater and at the Westwood Playhouse in Los Angeles.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1991, Tom formed Theatre-A-Go-Go! with Laura Hall, the musical director from Whose Line Is It Anyway? He eventually started teaching improv and sketch writing at The Second City Training Center in Los Angeles. Tom also co-wrote and co-directed (with producing partner Jon Kean) the feature film Kill The Man starring Luke Wilson, which premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. Tom has appeared in several television shows, a few movies and nearly a hundred commercials.
In 2007, Tom Booker came to Austin to start an improv theater and school and Austin’s Institution Theater was born! He’s a really nice guy. You should meet him.
HEIDI ROGERS has been an improvisor based in Austin, Texas since 2011. She has studied at The Institution Theater & The Hideout Theatre and has performed in over 20 Improvised productions at The Institution Theater , Hideout Theatre, ColdTowne & The New Movement. Heidi enjoys sharing what she has leaned over the years with new improvisors, especially when it comes to creating fun and engaging characters on stage. Heidi is excited to be teaching Improv 201 at The Institution Theater.
ASAF RONEN is the author of Directing Improv: Show the Way By Getting Out of the Way and the creator and Editor-in-Chief of YESand.com, a website devoted to improvisation. He has been involved in improv since 1990, working with Theatresports, ComedySportz and within countless original longform improv troupes and formats.
Asaf has taught improvisation in Canada, UK, Norway and over twenty-eight of The United States. His directing credits include the B. Iden Payne award-winning The Suitcase, the Miyazaki-inspired Spirited, the improvised comic book adventure show Ka-Baam!!, and in the NY Fringe Festival with Death in the City, a dramatic longform improv piece. He was also a producer on Trust Us, This Is All Made Up, a documentary on legendary Chicago improvisers TJ & Dave that premiered at SxSW.
In 2000, Asaf worked with Cirque de Soleil as a scout for improvisational talent. Asaf currently performs improv with several troupes including the B. Iden Payne Award-winning Confidence Men: Improvised Mamet and the mostly silent improv duo IMP., both of which have represented at festivals nationally.
TED MEREDITH has been an actor and writer at Esther’s Follies for nearly a decade, where he has performed as such political/cultural icons as Bill Clinton and Honey Boo-boo. Ted has taught at TIT since before recorded time. Seriously, no one was keeping track, he just started teaching one day and hasn’t stopped.
Ted has a BFA, cum laude, in Acting for Theater from Southwestern University, where he studied Viewpoints, Alexander Technique, Directing, Dance, Voice, etc. Upon graduating he joined the company of Austin Shakespeare, performed with Zilker Hillside Musical, and was one of the founding members of the Austiner Ensemble. He has been nominated for B. Iden Payne and Austin Critic’s Table awards.
Occasionally, Ted will be cast in a commercial, film or video game, but he’s not very good at keeping his resume updated. He’s planning on writing a book, a screenplay, and a pilot, but likely won’t finish any of them until he can at least get past week 5 of The Artist’s Way.
CLIFTON HIGHFIELD has been performing improvisational theater for 20 years and teaching improv for 10 years. Clifton studied at iO in Chicago during 2000, and performed in multiple improv festivals with Men in Shirts from 2001-2004. Clifton performed at The Institution Theater with casts of The Suitcase, Danger, and Pulp Friction. Clifton has also performed with iScream Sandwich, Concrete, and NugeField.
Clifton directed a remount of Townsville at Coldtowne Theater, and season one of Late Night Time Machine at The Institution Theater. He produces LoveFest at The Institution Theater. In 2007 he co-produced The Live Improv Movie Project at iO West. In 2010 he was the Technical Director for A Bloody Mary Christmas at Space 55, and The Unhappiness Plays debut in Phoenix and subsequent performances in the New York City Fringe Festival in 2011. Also at Space 55 Clifton was featured as Dewey in Bakers of Lakewood.
Clifton understudied in How Cissy Grew at the El Portal Theatre in Los Angeles. He added voice talents to the feature film I Am Legend and also The Blindside, an audio adventure game available for iPhone. Clifton was a stand-in on a couple Mad Men episodes, and a hand double for CSI: Miami. He has been an extra in CSI:NY, Scrubs, House, M.D., It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Changeling, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, and a bunch of other things probably. Clifton played Bobby the Gardener in a retelling of the Henry Hill story in a 2011 production of Locked up Abroad, and co-starred in the short film Damsel which premiered at the Phoenix Film Festival in 2012. He played Walt in Dog, which won an editing award at Challenge 2.0, a 2004 film festival in Chicago. He is on the internet in Gordo 2.0 from 2010, Best Friends from 2013, and Four Twentysomethings in 2015.
Clifton would like to extend a sincere and timeless thank you to everyone he has ever shared a stage with, because you taught me everything, like it was new, every time we shared the stage.
WYATT TALL began studying improv June 1st 2011 at the Institution Theater. He was hooked when, in the very first class, he became a bird flying around the room and was surprised when the rest of the class flew alongside him in V formation. He’s also studied improv at the prestigious iO Theater in Chicago.
Wyatt has performed in several Institution Theater shows, and improvised weekly for multiple years as part of various improv shows, including being a current cast member of ColdTowne Theater’s Stool Pigeon. Additionally Wyatt performs with the deconstruction group, Reverb, and as a part of the trio, snapshot.
He is excited to teach and to focus on finding the scene through agreement, support, and speaking from real, personal perspectives.
Sarah Marie Curry
SARAH MARIE CURRY has been an acting singing improvising artistic adventurer for over fourteen years, with extensive experience in musical theatre and theatre management. She has been an improvisational actress since 2009 and shares her passion by teaching, coaching, and developing and directing new work. Most recent projects include Tarantula: Dynamic Improv, Improv the Musical! (It’s Scripted) and her weekly duo show with Cat Drago called The Impromp-Two. She is a proud member of the B. Iden Payne Award Winning Troupe: Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals. On stage she has been called “hilarious”, “fierce” and “truly exceptional” and was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role by the Austin Critics’ Table Awards for her performance work in 2014.
For show info, updates and more, visit www.sarahmariecurry.com.
BRENTLY HEILBRON was born in Dallas, Texas, a magical place not unsimiliar to Narnia. He began performing improv in comedy clubs at age 14 and stand-up at age 15. At 20, he was voted Best Comic in Austin by the Austin Chronicle readers’ poll. He has toured around the country, worked with Woody Allen in an opera and emceed for Paul McCartney, George Takei, and the Mighty Boosh.
As an actor, Brently has appeared on Friday Night Lights and the improvised series Significant Others. Last year, he relocated back to Austin for the queso and is thrilled to teach at the Institution, where he also wrote Fuck It’s Hot and Fragile Rock. Brently is a sexy ukulele player and dad to two awesome kiddos. He is the founder of Brently Artists and Media: a boutique event, talent, and media management agency.
VALERIE NIES is a comedian, writer, and gluten enthusiast who spends a fair amount of time scanning WebMD, convincing herself she has an incurable disease. She’s written for humor sites Reductress and McSweeney’s and performed standup at the Out of Bounds and Big Little Comedy Festivals. Her sketches have been featured on Bitch, Jezebel, Salon, and Huffington Post; and she’s won awards for television scripts that never aired. She wants a dog but is too afraid of commitment.
Pinch Hitter Extraordinaire
ERICA LIES has been improvising for over a decade. She studied improv at the Magnet Theater, the Institution Theater, and Coldtowne Theater. She performs around town with supergroup Reverb, the duo Miller & Lies, The Agency, and Snapshot. Erica is a two-time Second Rounder in the Austin Film Festival with two pilots she co-wrote with Valerie Nies, and she holds a BFA in acting and an MA in Performance Studies. She’s also a longtime story producer for Mortified Austin.