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.
Mariana Lima Muniz – Central and South America Representative
Mariana Lima Muniz is a Brazilian improviser and Professor at the Department of Theatre, Cinema and Photography at UFMG, one of the most important University of Latin America. She’ve been working with improvisations groups in Spain and Brazil since 1999. She’s the author of the Improvisação como Espetáculo, the first book in Portuguese about improvisation ever published. She’s also a author of many papers about improvisation published in Brazil, Spain, Mexico and Argentina and the producer of an important Brazilian International Impro Festival called FIMPRO.
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.
Chris Wells – Asia Region Representative
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.
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 mountains to climb, both metaphorically and literally. Aside from history and climbing, he also enjoys good books, chocolate, and dancing, even though he isn’t very good at that last one.
Emil accidentally stumbled across the work of Keith Johnstone in a high school drama class, and he has since 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. She’s now the President of the association.
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 FRIDA, a sustainable economic reality based on the communication of culture. In July 2015 she organized MITICO – Milano International Theatresports Institute Conference. Since 2015 she is working with I Bugiardini on “Shhhh! An improvised silent movie”, with whom she was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016.
Jay Ono – Board Member
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.
Martina Pavone and Kivanç Özdemir – Europe East Regional Representatives
Martina Francesca Pavone Özdemir
Martina Pavone has been professionally working on Improv for the past 7 years as a performer, teacher, and applied Improv coach. She is specialized in vocal improvisation and tours around Europe with her #improvvocal workshop. Martina is a part of the SABIR Mediterranean group, who work on socio-political Improv. She is also part of the Pandora Festival board and she is the Coordinator of Improwow Project – Women & Inclusion in Improvisation. She collaborates with Assetto Teatro, AZOT Improv, Harlekin Theatre and International Theatresports Institute. As a singer, she works with Maestro Eser Taşkıran in Turkey and Maestro Luca Ruggero Jacovella in Italy.
Martina has made her life all about Improv, using applied improvisation with corporations, NGOs, and schools for the past 10 years. Currently, with her program “Let’s Improv to Improve – Improvisation in Life, Improvisation in Business” she works with Professor Andrea Montefusco and LUISS BUSINESS SCHOOL. As a communications coach she works on interpersonal communication, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, public speaking. She also has a special program for Women’s Empowerment: WonderFULL Women and one for teenagers: WonderFULL Teens. Martina is also a Life Coach through Drama and Improv in the IMI middle school in Istanbul, working as a support for teenagers and prevention on violence and bullying. Since 2013 she has been the director of Onar Istanbul, working to fight GBV and empower women.
Kamil Kivanç Özdemir
Kıvanç Özdemir has been working on Improvisation for the past 10 years as a member of AZOT IMPRO. He has been teaching Improv for 5 years, inTurkish and English. He was in the organizational team of the first two Istanbul International Improv Festival. He is a member of SABIR Mediterranean group, who work on socio-political Improv with Italy, Spain, Algeria and Tunisia. With his group he won the first national Improv League in 2016. He is collaborating with the International Theatresports Institute, translating the Theatresports guide in turkish and, together with Martina, bringing different Improvisational Cultures and guests to Turkey (Improvworkshopsinistanbul). He is currently collaborating with Assetto Teatro as a trainer for the master program “La Cantina”. In his free time he is a lawyer, specialized in criminal law and has master of art on forensic medicine working for his own law practice in Istanbul.
Since 2013, he is a board member of ONAR Istanbul working to fight Gender Based Violence and empower women as the Head of the Law Department and Trainer in Universities and Schools about GBV, Divorce, Foreigners, child protection, Integration & Inclusion.
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.
Marko Mustac – Oceania Region Representative
Marko Mustac began as an actor in Sydney in the early 1980’s, joined Theatresports at Sydney’s iconic Belvoir St Theatre in 1985, and soon became a leading comedy improviser, teacher and director. He was Artistic director of Theatresports Inc Australia in the 1990’s and over the last 30 years he has created, directed and produced over 40 improvised theatre seasons. He was Artistic Director of Impro Australia in Sydney from 2010 to 2016 and is now the company’s Chairperson.
Marko also has many years of experience writing and performing for television and he is an established Corporate Events writer and performer.
Marko has been a regular corporate impro trainer and performer since 1990, and in the last 10 years Marko has specialised in Business Training. He is an affiliate of The Ariel Group, a worldwide training company based in Boston, Massachusetts, which specialises in Leadership Presence training, developed from acting and improvisation techniques. He is also a trainer for Dramatic Change, which is based in London and specialises in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
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. 🙂
Jay Hitt – North America West Region Respresentative
Jay Hitt began his improv career in 1988 after graduating with a degree in Theatre Arts at Casper College in Wyoming. After moving back to Seattle he began performing improv with various groups around the area, and was a founding member of Fresh Art Entertainment. He soon began touring the country as part of an improv/stand-up comedy duo with college buddy Mike Capp.
In 1993 Jay became an official member of Unexpected Productions. In addition to Theatresports he has performed and directed a variety of long-form improv shows. He has been teaching and coaching improv since 1998. Some of his most influential teachers outside of his UP training have been Del Close, Keith Johnstone, Charna Halpern, Avery Schreiber, Enrique Pardue, Rachel Rosenthal, and Mick Napier.
In 2007, he became the Managing Director of Unexpected Productions. Since then, he has kept the theater operating in the black with a surplus. Jay has a strong understanding of board operations, strategic planning and the unusual needs and management of an improv theater. He manages 10 performances a week with over fifty improvisers and staff. Jay was instrumental in facilitating the move from the Market Theater to the Intiman Playhouse then back again during the 2011-12 theater renovations. During that time, the theater continued to perform and didn’t lose any money.
As well as performing in hundreds of improvised shows and stand-up comedy, he has also performed in many plays from musicals to drama to comedy. He conceived and directed the hit sci-fi improv show “Where’s Earth,” the multi-playwright genre show “Playborhood” and “Nevermore: Poe Unscripted.” He’s the creator of “Duo Comedy Showcase” and “Womb Escape: Xtreme Improv Tournament.” He has attended in various improv festivals around the world, including the ITI festival in Milan in 2012.
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.
Rebecca Northan – Board Member
Rebecca Northan has been improvising for 28 years. She has been a member of the Loose Moose Theatre company since 1988, and although she no longer lives in Calgary, she shows up at the Moose several times a year. In recent history, Rebecca created the hit-show, Blind Date, which marries improvisation, theatre and clown training in a performance that features an audience member in a lead role. The success of Blind Date has spun off into what Rebecca has dubbed “spontaneous theatre”, and she now has several other projects in development, including “An Undiscovered Shakespeare” at the Stratford Festival of Canada. She has a BFA in Theatre, has been a Sessional Instructor at the University of Calgary, and is a mentor for the Master Acting Class at the Canadian Film Centre. Rebecca also works in mainstream theatre, film, and television.
Thank you to our past board members!
- Daniel Orrantia
- Dennis Cahill
- Erik Van der Liet
- Felipe Ortiz
- Frank Totino
- Geoffrey Dolan
- Helene Abrahamsen
- Jukka Lindstrom
- Michael Durkin
- Nadine Antler
- Nathalie van Renterghem
- Patti Stiles
- Shawn Kinley
- Terra Hazelton
- Vera Achatkin
- Vid Sodnik
- Volker Quando
- Yuri Kinugawa