Meet the people behind the scenes at the iTi.
Alana Marchetto – Office Administration
Alana joins the ITI from the crazy world of Entertainment Journalism for Canadian Film and Television. With a passion for all things arts, she is also an award winning fiber artist, designer and instructor for knitting and crochet enthusiasts and beginners. Once upon a time she wrote an honours thesis in Social Anthropology exploring world youth, music and global/local dynamics. While she herself isn’t very funny she is a die hard fan of classic British comedy. As the Office Administrator, she would like it known that being organized is no laughing matter.
Jun Imai – Asia Region Representative
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Jun Imai lived in California for 8 years. He has studied acting with various teachers, specifically Method Acting with Frank Casaro, Artistic Director of the Actor’s Studio, and improvisation with Keith Johnstone, creator of Theatresports™. He has had the pleasure of being the simultaneous interpreter for acting and improv workshops led by Keith Johnstone, Lyn Pierce, Dennis Cahill and Mark Lamb, most recently for Keith Johnstone in 2010. He has been coaching and directing improv since 1995, and beginning in 2005 he has directed and produced Tokyo Comedy Store j, in Shibuya, Tokyo. With a cast of over thirty talented improvisors, TCSj is one of Japan’s premiere improv groups. In 2006 Jun Imai published “It’s Hard to be Free- an Impro Manual” based on his experience with bringing improv to the Japanese. It’s been a long-term best-seller in the theater community since then. He followed up in 2009 and 2010 with the three-volume “Japanese Who’ve Begun to Improvise: Keith Johnstone’s Impro”. Imai’s books have earned him praise as a thoughtful and incisive teacher and director. In addition to directing TCSj, he teaches impro, scripted acting, and mask workshops through his own company, in the moment, ltd., and for Tokyo talent agencies. He has worked with both new and well-know film and television actors in Japan. He feels strongly that all societies in Asia can benefit from what impro and Theatresports™ has to offer and looks forward to helping to promote their emergence throughout the region.
Emil Husby – Nordic Region Representative
Emil is based in Trondheim, Norway, where he currently serves as Artistic Director for the voluntary impro company The Impro Operators. When not improvising he spends his time diligently tapping away on his Master’s thesis in Antarctic history and travelling the world looking for new mountains to climb, both metaphorically and literally. Aside from history and climbing, he also enjoys good books, chocolate, and dancing, even though isn’t very good at it.
Emil accidentally stumbled across the work of Keith Johnstone in a high school drama class, and since has sought out Johnstone’s work wherever he could find it, both in print and in workshops with the man himself. All of this gave him a taste for further exploring improvised theater, and he has spent much of his time since then both seeking out new teachers, and organizing, acting in and directing improvised shows – among them all of Keith’s formats. He is thrilled to get the chance to help the ITI in its mission to build a sharing and caring global impro community.”
Elena Lah – Europe West Region Representative
Elena is a graduate in international law. She then became a visual designer, combining these skills with journalism writing, directing and acting, with particular attention to the technique of improvisation.
The mission she likes most is the one of Muse, the cultural association she cofounded, promotes the cultural, historical and artistic Italian richness using new technology. She is a webmaster, a web designer and deals with the content management. These skills help her to create full multimedia products, such as websites, books, videos, promotional campaigns and applications.
She started improvising in 2006 with Teatribù.
In 2010 she founded, together with other stage fellows of Brianza, the Cultural Association Improvincia, which is a school and a theater company.
In 2011 she wrote, directed, starred in and produced MOBY 451, a play dedicated to the tragedy of the fairy Moby Prince, with shows in Milan, Genoa, Taranto and Livorno.
In 2013 she founded the new FRIDA firm, to achieve a sustainable economic reality based on the communication of culture, made in a professional and creative way.
In July 2015 she organized and was a key member of MITICO – Milano International Theatresports Institute Conference, which brought together 78 improvisers from all over the world to discuss and learn impro.
She is starting a new adventure in Rome, working with iTi member group I Bugiardini on “Shhhh! An improvised silent movie”, to be with them at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in summer 2016.
Jay Ono – North America West Region Representative
For over 16 years Jay Ono has held the position of Executive Director of Vancouver TheatreSports™.
Recently they opened a new facility on Granville Island after a 1.2 million dollar renovation.
This year Vancouver TheatreSports™ operating budget is approx. 1.4 million.
They operate 52 weeks a year and present 11 shows per week.
Karen Brown Fournell – Board President
Karen Brown Fournell has been the General Manager of Rapid Fire Theatre, the third oldest Theatresports company in the world, for the past 13 years. She has seen the company grow from one weekly show and fewer than 10 corporate bookings per year to three weekly shows, a bi-monthly teen program, four annual festivals and about 100 corporate bookings per year. As an administrator, Karen’s role is to support a highly energetic and slightly attention-deficit-afflicted group of artistic directors and performers, whose first objective, always, is to be funny. Karen is a very serious person.
Kylie Schultz – Africa & Middle East Region Representative
Kylie is the indispensable Manager of The Courtyard Playhouse in Dubai, UAE. She is involved in every aspect of the Playhouse’s activities onstage and off from score-keeping and hosting Maestro shows to venue hire bookings.
Kylie approaches all challenges with a smile and has thrown herself into her job with a passion matching that of Courtyard’s dedicated crew. She is thirsty for more and more knowledge about Keith Johnstone and Improvisation. She brings to the iTi Board, her insights in what goes into setting up and running an impro theatre as well as her strong administrative and organisational skills.
Vid Sodnik – Europe East Regional Representative
Vid Sodnik was born in Kranj (Slovenia) on 8th of July 1987. He started improvising at the age of 15 at Gimnazija Kranj high school impro team. After finishing high school he joined the improv project Impro liga where he performed regularly and was several times picked by his fellow improvisers for the best improviser in the national improvisational competition.
Since Slovenia has a big improv scene(about 400 teenagers and about 120 adult improvisers) there was always an option to work with great teachers passing Slovenia while they were touring around Europe. After visiting his first international festival by Unexpected Productions in Seattle in 2011 he decided to try to become a full time improviser. Since then, Vid has been regularly traveling to different countries (Croatia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Belgium, Canada and USA) to learn, perform and teach. In 2012 he spent 4 months at the Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary, Canada and came in closer touch with Johnstone’s work.
Time spent in Calgary, learning from great teachers, traveling around Canada and USA was highly inspirational. After returning home he is actively representing Johnstone’s work as a co-founder of Improvisational Theatre of Ljubljana – IGLU, co-founder of the School of Improvisational Theatre in Ljubljana and co-funder of an international project of young European improvisers – OHANA. In 2014, IGLU received the license for Maestro™ and had the first show on October 18th, 2014 in SiTi Theatre BTC, Ljubljana.
Chris Wells – Secretary
Chris Wells is from Kansas City, Missouri, originally, and has lived in Tokyo for 18 years. He is a founding member of the Tokyo Comedy Store, and first performed Theatresports in Tokyo. He currently directs and performs impro at TCS with his troupe Spontaneous Confabulation, and in TCS’s Theatresports shows. He also teaches a weekly workshop with regular student Theatresports shows. He is a narrator, and can be heard abroad on NHK International shows and at such local landmarks as Tokyo Tower and on Shinkansen/bullet train platforms announcing which trains are going where. He is resisting the urge to put a “big in Japan” joke somewhere around here.
Steve Jarand – Board Member
Steve has been doing improvisation since the late ‘80s at Loose Moose Theatre in Calgary. He performs nature theatre in schools, zoos and in Canada’s mountain parks. He travels extensively looking for new cultural experiences and attending meditation retreats. Steve began working with masks in 1997, established the Loose Moose Mask Group and now spends half of his time touring Europe leading mask workshops.
Patti Stiles – Oceania Region Representative
Patti is an actor, improviser, director, instructor and playwright who has been working professionally in theatre since 1983. She served her theatre apprenticeship at the Loose Moose Theatre, working with Keith Johnstone. As an improvisation performer and teacher, Patti Stiles has worked in Canada, the USA, England, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, France, New Zealand, Thailand and Australia for numerous improvisation companies and theatre schools. She is currently the Co-Director of Secret Impro Theatre (Melbourne, AU) and has had the honour of being Artistic Director of three Theatresports™ companies: two in Canada, Dream Kitchen Theatre (Toronto, ON.) and Rapid Fire Theatre (Edmonton, AB.), and most recently Impro Melbourne in Melbourne Australia. Patti is a core company member (in absentia) of Die Nasty – the live improvised soap opera (Edmonton, CA), and is the Artistic Director of the Die Nasty AU. To her credit she was the spark of inspiration for the birth of London’s Spontaneity Shop and holds the unofficial record for being the first female to improvise for 53 hours in a row in the infamous Die Nasty soap-a-thon. Patti loves Theatresports™ and is very enthusiastic in helping the I.T.I build a positive, supportive improvisation community that shares ideas and creates together. She is currently working on her first book about improvisation.
Doug Wong – Board Member
Doug Wong has been a Theatresports™ fan since the dawn of time. Even dinosaurs knew how to improvise but Keith Johnstone wasn’t around then to help them with their technique so they didn’t last! Doug has managed to last 40 years in the Calgary entertainment industry as the owner/operator of the Sundae Sound Studio, Canada Disc & Tape, Digital Video Masters and Media Distribution International. In 2012 he became a Cultural Ambassador for the City of Calgary. He looks forward to a few more good years by volunteering and joining the Board of the International Theatresports Institute before he becomes extinct. 🙂
Roberto Vigo – Central and South America Region Representative
Roberto is the Artistic Director and has been a cast member of “La Mancha Impro Group” for 8 years.
Roberto took Improvisation studies in Lima, Peru, at “Keto” School and has also received training from International Masters such as Shawn Kinley (Canada), Patti Stiles (Australia), Omar Argentino (Argentina), Oski Guzman (Argentina), Gigio Giraldo (Colombia), among others. He has also attended the international summer school at the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary, Canada as well as the 10 days with Keith intensive workshop with Keith Johnstone (Canada).
Roberto has also received training on physical comedy with Hilary Chaplain (USA), Masks with Steve Jarand (Canada), and Clown with Aitor Basauri (Spain). Currently Roberto is attending a “Theatrical Direction” Course at “Aranwa Cultural Association”.
Roberto tours nationally and internationally and has created improvisation formats such as “IMPROspección”, “Libro en Vivo”, “Barbaridad y 1/2” among others. He has a Bachelors of Development Communications from Catholic University, is the General Director of the Inter-modal Art Festival “Lima Divergente”and the creative director of the “Presente Comunicaciones” Agency.
Neal Leaheey – North America East Region Representative
Ever since he hit the stage as the Tin Man in his junior high school production of The Wizard of Oz, Neal Leaheey has been hooked on theater. After getting his BA at the University of Iowa, Neal honed his craft performing theater all over the Northeast USA, learned how to improvise with the goodwill of the Improv Asylum in Boston and the Bit Players in Rhode Island, and brought theater to elementary schoolers in need with the Manton Avenue Project. As a teacher and director, he has worked with New England Conservatory teaching opera singers how to act and at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth teaching college students how to improvise. Currently, Neal works with the Contemporary Theater Company to perform, direct, and teach Maestro as part of the growing ITI community in the eastern USA. He also collaborates with fellow artists and educators as part of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Improv League to engage high school students without access to the performing arts in their English curriculum with the power of TheatreSports!
Dan O’Connor – Board Member
A native San Franciscan Dan is a co-founder of BATS Improv and co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Impro Theatre home of LA Theatresports. Dan is happy to back on the ITI Advisory Board after serving in the late 90’s on the original one! Dan has overseen Impro Theatre’s growth from a successful short form improv troupe to a critically acclaimed, nationally recognized improvisational theatre company.
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. Theatre acting credits include the Improbable Theatre’s production of Keith Johnstone’s Life Game (Off-Broadway), and he has appeared in productions with American Conservatory Theatre, A Noise Within, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and The 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 at many other corporations, theatre companies and improvisational theatre festivals around the world.
He is a graduate of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London and a member of SAG-AFTRA, DGA, AEA and WGA.
Thank you to our past board members!
- Erik Van der Liet
- Frank Totino
- Nadine Antler
- Shawn Kinley
- Dennis Cahill
- Michael Durkin
- Vera Achatkin
- Jukka Lindstrom
- Volker Quando
- Yuri Kinugawa
- Terra Hazelton
- Helene Abrahamsen
- Geoffrey Dolan
- Daniel Orrantia
- Felipe Ortiz
- Nathalie van Renterghem
- Rebecca Northan