Steen Haakon Hansen
Steen Haakon Hansen is known as one of the finest teachers and experts within the field of Improvisation. Since working closely with and assisting Keith Johnstone in Odsherred he has now – as one of the few in the world – obtained a certificate allowing him to teach Keith Johnstone Method.
Born in Copenhagen March 12, 1947, Steen made his entrance in theatre in 1971 as a stagehand and technician. He worked as such until 1973 when he started his education as director, actor and acting-teacher at Statens Teater Skole in Copenhagen. During his education, 1973-1977, at The Danish National School of Theater, Steen studied at the studio of Etienne Decroux, and at L´Ecole Nationale Du Cirque in Paris for a term.
Steen graduated as an actor in 1977 from Statens Teater Skole and has since been directing, acting and teaching in Denmark and abroad. Steen’s focus is on developing new exercises and tasks that make Improvisation and Expression Corporelle relevant in the individual participant’s practice. For the last decade he has been teaching various diploma programs at the Scenes Art Development Center, in addition to workshops in Improvisation.
The improvisation methods and teaching ethics of Keith Johnstone, whom Steen worked with when Keith directed The Last Bird at the Theatre School in Copenhagen, and later was a pupil of, have had a big impact on the work of Steen. The theories and principles he teaches originate from that collaboration, along with ideas within theatre, sociology, anthropology and philosophy. His new exercises rooted in the work of Yevgeny Vakhtangov, Etienne Decroux, Yves Lebreton, Mikhael Chekov and Keith Johnstone, brings the best out of the actors he is working with. Steen says in his work he thinks “inter-artistic, intercultural and interdisciplinary. I always get inspiration from other art forms, other cultures and professions. Lately, I have been greatly inspired by, for example, Salvador Dali’s Paranoid Critical Method, which is about letting its dreams enter into a critical process, to subsequently create as realistic an artistic expression as possible.”
“Steen Haakon Hansen is a good fellow. I know him well (I first met him forty years ago). He is well qualified to teach the methods that I have developed. He is an excellent performer. I have no hesitation in recommending him.” – Keith Johnstone
In 1987 I stumbled onto improvisation at Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary. Spontaneity and accepting made sense to me but my responsible side said “go back to school”, so I spent four years completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary. Keith Johnstone taught me acting and directed me in The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Then I needed to explore so I left for Europe. Since then, my adventures have brought me to South America, Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and several trips to India. Between travels I work in the National and Provincial Parks of the Rocky Mountains doing Nature theatre. There I put in practice my interest in skills like: storytelling, puppetry and mask work. I keep on returning to Loose Moose to address my own fears and expression through improvisation.
Mainly through mask-work and meditation, my Impro begins to flourish.
In 1998, I had my first experience with masks (not a great one) doing a stylized Comedia d’elle Arte play. I sensed masks could be much more, having seen Comedia-style misbehavior work wonderfully at Loose Moose, so I began making my own masks and bringing them to the stage. Keith noticed and supported masks at the theatre.
Today I am teaching Impro and mask, working with children and doing science and nature theatre. I continue to travel and attend Vipassana Meditation retreats. I am on the board of directors of the iTi (International TheatreSports Institute).
The masks tour Europe and North America each year in an ever-widening scope of weekend workshops, longer intensives and mask based shows. They also show up frequently in Impro shows. In 2016 the masks did world tour with workshops in Columbia, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan.
I continue to get training from Keith and other Impro teachers like Shawn Kinley. My interest in simple clown (and its connection to Mask) continues to develop and I have worked with clown teachers and performers: Aitor Basauri and Felipe Ortiz. In 2016 I completed a ten-month round the world trip with the masks teaching and performing in Columbia, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan. Last year the mask showed up in Turkey and Israel as well and this year they are off to Romania.
From tribal dances in Africa and performances in India to my own creations here at home, masks continue to teach me a great deal about, spontaneity, accepting and exploring myself.
Dan O’Connor is the co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Impro Theatre. For Impro, he is the director of Chekhov UnScripted and the co-director of Jane Austen UnScripted, Fairytales UnScripted, The Western UnScripted, Shakespeare UnScripted and Sondheim UnScripted. Collectively, these shows have been performed at The Broad Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Laguna Playhouse, North Coast Repertory, Falcon Theatre, Carrie Hamilton Theatre at The Pasadena Playhouse, Odyssey Theatre, Theatre Asylum and Impro Studio, among many others.
Dan’s television directing credits include the critically acclaimed ABC hybrid sitcom Sons and Daughters and Campus Ladies for the Oxygen Network. He was a writer and the improv director for The Wayne Brady Show, and he co-created the NBC television improv comedy show World Cup Comedy, which ran for two seasons on PAX. Television acting credits include Seinfeld, VEGAS, Raising Hope, Campus Ladies, Malcolm in the Middle, The Tonight Show, The Newz, Life Game, Quick Witz, Law & Order: LA, Little Britain USA and NCIS. Theatre acting credits include the Improbable Theatre’s production of Keith Johnstone’s Life Game (Off-Broadway), and productions with American Conservatory Theatre, A Noise Within, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and Taper, Too.
Dan was an adjunct professor for USC’s BFA program, and he has taught at Duke University, Pepperdine University, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA Extension, and the MBA Program at UT Austin. He has conducted improvisation and creative workshops at Dreamworks, Disney Animation, Cirque du Soleil, and for theatre companies around the world. Dan is also a co-founder of Los Angeles TheatreSports and BATS Improv in San Francisco. He also wrote the book ‘Life UnScripted’ with noted psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Katzman, about using improv to live a happier more fulfilling life. He is a graduate of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and a member of SAG-AFTRA, DGA, AEA and WGA.
Felipe Ortiz is a performer, director and teacher interested in exchanging, interacting, playing and sharing experiences with different artists around the world. He´s curious about the body in movement and its possibilities, that´s why he explores it through acrobatics, improvisation, clowning, physical theater and object manipulation to create new forms of expression in performing arts.
As a performer he´s been touring around the world with different projects in festivals, companies, and collaborating with artists in these areas. He´s a well-known in the international scene as an impro, physical theater and clown teacher.
He´s currently working as a clown, acrobatics and impro teacher at the Javeriana University in Bogota.
He´s being the artistic director of La Gata Cirko (new circus) for 16 years and has directed and codirected shows in different formats like: the opening ceremony of the world games in Cali and the closing ceremony of the Football FIFA world cup sub-20 in Bogota, and all the shows from the company.
He´s one of the founding members of PICNIC – IMPRO and one of the directors of the impro MONKEY FEST in its 9th versions. He’s also one of the creators of SPEECHLESS an improvised show without words that has being touring in more than 15 countries around the world.
Lisa is a lecturer at Stanford University in the Theatre Department, teaching the very class that put her on the path of improvisation. Compelled to pass on the joys of improvisation, Lisa began teaching as part of her experience with the Stanford Improvisors, and continued as a member of the faculty of the BATS School of Improv. She has traveled around the country and world, teaching in America, Saudi Arabia (the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Seriously), New Zealand, Mexico and as a two-time guest instructor at the International Impro Festival in Würzburg, Germany. Lisa teaches privately in the Bay Area and was a high school improv coach.
Lisa’s first love is performing. Her background in scripted theater gives her a strong grounding in truthful performance and the allure of discovery and delight that improvisation offers has kept her scriptless since she began improvising professionally in 2006. Straight out of Stanford University, where she performed with the Stanford Improvisors, she joined the mainstage company at BATS Improv, Northern California’s most acclaimed and longest running improvisational theatre company. At BATS, she created the renowned format The Bechdel Test, a show which puts complicated, multi-faceted women in the center of stories. She is a founding member of Improv Playhouse of San Francisco and Awkward Dinner Party. In 2012, Lisa was voted Best Actor by the SF Bay Guardian’s Reader Poll. She has traveled the world to perform on international stages with international casts and finds particular delight in the global improv community.
Lisa believes improv makes the world a better place. Being a lover of words and people and the ways they affect one another, she finds particular joy in breaking down what makes it so powerful in ways that can encourage people to live a life of generosity, compassion, playfulness and connection. She co-facilitates retreats that help people approach life playfully and trustfully, and has given talks on the power of improv at schools and conferences. She and her colleague Ted DesMaisons are the creators of Monster Baby, a podcast exploring the crossover between mindfulness and improvisation.
Patti is a professional actor, improviser, director, educator and playwright specializing in improvisational theatre. She was trained by Keith Johnstone and served her theatre apprenticeship at the Loose Moose Theatre Company (CA). Her understanding of Johnstone’s work and philosophy, combined with a wealth of experience on the world stage, has made her a “must have” teacher and director.
Patti is Artistic Director of Impro Melbourne (AU), past Artistic Director of Rapid Fire Theatre (CA), a founding member of Die Nasty (CA), creator of Momentos De La Vida, Quotable Women and How The West Was Improvised. She has taught in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Middle East, Scandinavia, The Nordic Region and Australasia. Teaching credits include LAMDA (UK), RADA (UK), National Theatre of Performing Arts (DK), University El Bosque (CO), Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (CO), Actors Centre (UK), National Institute of Circus Arts (AU), National Theatre (AU), Citadel Theatre (CA) and Loose Moose Theatre (CA) to name a few.
Patti’s writing has been translated into 3 languages, she is a contributor to the book Art of Mistakes and was interviewed for The Improv Handbook (which is dedicated to Patti in recognition of her mentorship.) Add to her list of credits three nominations for an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award, plus she holds the record for being the first female to improvise for 53 hours in a row in the famous Die Nasty soap a thon.
The Canadian press dubbed her “Impro Doyen” and “Queen of Improvisation”.