The Unified Scene will be offering classes in improvisational comedy throughout the year — for beginning and novice students to even the most advanced students — on both weekday evenings and on weekends during the day. Don’t see an available class or one that fits your schedule? Keep checking back: we’ll continually update this page as new classes are available. Or join our email list to be one of the first notified when new classes are announced. Currently available classes are below: 

August 2017

Classes & Workshops.

 

WORKSHOP

Aug 6th

WORKSHOP

Aug 12th

WORKSHOP

Aug 20th

September 2017

Classes & Workshops.

WORKSHOP

Sep 10th

CLASS

Sep 13- Oct 11

CLASS

Sep 11- Oct 23

CLASS

Oct 18 – Nov 15

CLASS

Sep 12- Nov 11

NEW CLASS

Sept 23 – Nov 11

Intro To Improv Musical

with Second City’s Ross Taylor

Sunday, August 6th, from 11-1 p.m

Only 16 spots available.    $35 

It doesn’t take a ‘good singer’ to be a good musical improviser. Learn basic song structure and movement concepts–by the end of this class you will be able to improvise songs onstage!

Ross Taylor is a native of rural Missouri and is honored to be spending a second consecutive summer in DC performing at the Kennedy Center with Second City’s Almost Accurate Guide to America. In Chicago, he performs and teaches regularly with Second City and Baby Wants Candy. Before moving to Chicago, Taylor spent seven years in New York City performing and teaching at the Magnet Theater, the PIT and UCB.

 

Note: directly following this class, there will be a one-hour musical improv jam hosted by cast members of The Unified Sing and accompanist Wesley Fox, that will allow you to put what you’ve learned into practice! Everyone, including non-enrollees, invited! 

 

Make Them Believe In You:

Playing Believable Characters with Dave Johnson

Saturday, August 12th, from 1-4 p.m

Only 15 spots available.    $35 

The more believable your characters are, the more likely your audience will find them funny and engaging. In this workshop, local instructor and performer extraordinaire Dave Johnson will help you bring a sense of authenticity to any kind of character you play. Expect to play crazy characters opposite others’ straight characters, straight characters opposite others’ crazy characters, characters very similar to yourself, and characters extremely different from yourself… and all with as much authenticity as possible. Don’t get stuck playing stereotypes or caricatures that box you in. Instead, up your game by playing believable characters.

David Johnson is an actor, improviser, improv teacher and improv director/coach. He received a B.A. in Drama from Washington College, an M.F.A. in Acting from Ohio University and was a member of many improv troupes, including onesixtyone (Washington Improv Theater’s original troupe), The Haddington Club, Dr. Fantastic, Werewolf Mcbutterbone (Winner of WIT’s Tournament of the FIST), Anant Nag, Doozie!, Dial M for Nasty, among others. As an improviser, he performed in specialty and festival shows at Del Close Marathon, The Kennedy Center, North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, Chicago Improv Festival, Richmond Improv Festival, Philadelphia Improv Festival, WIT’s Improvapaloosa, PHIT’s Duofest, and at The Unified Scene Theater. He has acted in scripted productions at theaters such as The Kennedy Center, New Dramatists (NY, NY), Theater Alliance (D.C.), Catalyst Theater Company (D.C.), Center Stage (Baltimore, MD), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The Bay Theater Company (Annapolis, MD), Monomoy Theater (Chatham, MA), and Totem Pole Playhouse (Fayetteville, PA) and continues to act in film and on web and t.v. commercials. As WIT’s most senior teacher, he taught most levels of the curriculum, workshops with WIT University, corporate workshops, and the self-created: Relax—Improv for Actors and Acting for Improvisers. Outside of WIT he has taught improv workshops for Third Beat, Richmond Improv Festival, Washington College, Mount St Mary’s University, and Fairfax County Public Schools. He also directed or coached the improv troupes onesixtyone, Press Play, Hot and Sweaty, The Lodge, Bedtime Story, Fuego, Aboulia, The Carmichaels, We are Fortune, Prettier Than You, and Request for Protest.

 

Free Improv Workshop

Free

Sunday, August 20th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Ever thought “Hey, this improv crap looks fun. But I’m not sure I could do it. Wouldn’t mind giving it a test run before I do.” Well, now’s your chance: we’re offering a free (that’s right: FREE) 2-hour improv workshop at The Unified Scene Theater on Sunday, August 20th from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come on by. Kick the tires. You might surprise yourself — and have fun doing it! Space is limited, so let us know you’re coming by emailing us at info@unifiedscenetheater.com and say, “yeah, what the hell, I’m coming.”

Instructor: Shawn Westfall

Prerequisites: A Pulse

JUST ADDED

Free Improv Workshop

Free

Sunday, September 10th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Ever thought “Hey, this improv crap looks fun. But I’m not sure I could do it. Wouldn’t mind giving it a test run before I do.” Well, now’s your chance: we’re offering a free (that’s right: FREE) 2-hour improv workshop at The Unified Scene Theater on Sunday, April 23rd from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come on by. Kick the tires. You might surprise yourself — and have fun doing it! Space is limited, so let us know you’re coming by emailing us at info@unifiedscenetheater.com and say, “yeah, what the hell, I’m coming.”

Instructor: Shawn Westfall

Prerequisites: A Pulse

Introduction to Improvisational Comedy

Mondays, 7:00 p.m. – 9 p.m., September 11th through Monday, October 23rd (six weeks of instruction, with a graduation show in week seven, on Monday, October 23rd)

Perhaps you’ve seen improv comedy on television: the TV show “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” popularized “short-form” improv comedy in both Britain and America. And some of the most prominent names in comedy – Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carrell (among numerous others) – have been trained almost exclusively in this style of comedy. Students will be taught the basics of improv through exercises and games that demonstrate the fundamental principles behind this fun and exciting art form, such as:

  • Agreement (at every point)
  • Commitment (at “Level 10”)
  • Being “in the moment” and “transparent”
  • “Checking your ego at the door”
  • Collaborating (with enthusiasm)
  • Listening (to everyone, and to everything)

What does it all add up to? A buttload of fun and awesomeness.

Instructor: Shawn Westfall

Prerequisites: None, except a willingness to leave one’s comfort zone and have a blast in the process…

Storytelling for Performance

Wednesday, September 13th through Wednesday, October 11th, from 7-9 p.m. (four weeks of instruction, with a graduation show in week 5, on the evening of October 11th )

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time as a way for us to relate to each other and give meaning to our experiences. However, in more recent years, oral storytelling has grown as a performance art, allowing us to perfect the art of telling, and shape our stories into compelling narratives that educate, entertain, inspire and often transform perception.

In our four-week class plus a graduation showcase, we will teach you the art of storytelling for performance including:

  • Identifying the stories in our lives that make for great content. Everyone has stories to tell and you will shut down the inner censor that might be telling you the opposite.
  • Learning the narrative structure of a story, and how to apply these critical elements to yours
  • Practicing with peers to help shape each other’s pieces week-over-week.
  • Gaining feedback, critical to getting better
  • Shaping your story for an audience.
  • Working with coaches who help guide your piece into an 8-10 minute performance piece.
  • Performing on stage in a graduation showcase and having the opportunity to invite friends and family to see you perform

This class will run for 4 weeks on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, September 13th
  • Wednesday, September  20th
  • Wednesday, September 27th
  • Wednesday, October 4th

The final showcase will held on the evening of Wednesday, October 11th, 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. at Big Bear Cafe, in Bloomingdale

Instructors:

Kathy Baird Westfall has been in the Washington DC area for over three decades spanning a career in marketing and advertising alongside her passion for performance in acting, improvisational comedy and storytelling. In her day job, she is the Managing Director for Content + Social at Ogilvy & Mather where she helps brands and nonprofits tell their stories to connect with audiences. She is a frequently sought out speaker at panels and conferences, surrounding marketing, advertising, storytelling and women’s leadership among other topics. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications Program where she taught digital and integrated marketing strategy and most recently improv for leadership to the global executive program.

An active member of the DC Storytelling scene, Kathy has taken classes at Better Said Than Done and Story District. She has taught storytelling in both corporate and professional settings as well as workshops in the duststorms of Burning Man. Her storytelling performances have included the 9:30 Club, the Capital Fringe Festival, The Auld Shebeen, The Unified Scene Theater among others.

Kathy is Lakota/Oneida and originally from South Dakota. She believes firmly in radical inclusion and art forms that allow us all to participate. There is not a person who exists who does not have a story to tell.

Shawn Westfall His career as both improv teacher and performer is storied: for 11 years, Shawn was the exclusive teacher of improvisational comedy at the DC Improv; in fact, he inaugurated the first improv comedy class there 12 years ago, helping grow and build the curriculum into the DC Improv Comedy School, which now boasts a roster of teachers and hundreds of students. His classes (and the numerous performances they’ve generated) have been featured in the pages of The Washington Post, The Washington Post Express, Washingtonian magazine, as well on NPR and Washington Post Radio. Of course, he’s been performing improv for nearly two decades, and currently performs in a two-person improv show, ShawnMikael(s), that’s played to audiences all over the Eastern seaboard, racking up a number of accolades during its short time in existence: the show it mounted as part of the 2011 Capital Fringe Festival found the duo being named “Best of the Fest” by DC TheaterScene; in addition, the duo have twice entered the Harrisburg Comedy Improv Throwdown, taking home the winning trophy two years in a row against stiff competition from troupes from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City. Currently, the troupe performs a monthly show in the Columbia Heights sections of Washington, DC that’s sold out the last 32 months in a row.

 

From Rage To Stage:

Towards A Unified Scene Theater Main-Stage Performance

Saturdays, 11 am — 1 pm, September 23rd, 2017 through November 11th, 2017

(eight weeks of instruction with a Main Stage weekend (paid) performance slot on the evening of Saturday, November 11th (8:30 pm)

You’ve got a rage for improv: you’ve completed classes, began collaborating and building chemistry, have formed troupes or practice groups, shown up at jams, worked, got on a jam-show or a Rep Stage show, and are itching to get on The Unified Scene Theater’s Main-Stage (hey, who isn’t?). But you’re either (a) not sure if you’re ready, or (b) want to take those next steps to make sure you are. This, then, is the class for you.

In this eight-week class, we’ll wipe the slate clean and begin working together, collaborating and discovering organically what your individual and group strengths are, and begin building troupes/shows/formats from that. We’ll start slow at first, getting to know each other and how we individually operate in improv contexts, and begin building toward a Unified Scene Theater Main-Stage ready production. And then, yeah, we’ll put this show/these troupes on our Main Stage, on the evening of Saturday, November 11th (at 8:30 p.m.)

Instructor: Shawn Westfall

Prerequisite: either completion of the Intro-To-Long-Form Improv Class or The Harold Class at The Unified Scene Theater (completed both? Even better!). Or permission of the instructor.

Introduction to Long-Form Improv Comedy

Tuesdays, 7:00 p.m. – 9 p.m., September 12th through (seven weeks of instruction, with a graduation show in week eight, on November 7th 25th; NO CLASS on Tuesday, October 31st [Halloween])

Before you can speak a language, and, more importantly, use it to communicate with others, you have to learn both its vocabulary and its grammar to be understood. Long-form improvisational comedy operates the same way: it, too, has its own vocabulary, as well as a “grammar” that those performing it should be fluent in so they too, can communicate with fellow performers — and not end up confusing audiences. But how do you learn the vocabulary and grammar of long form? Attempting to learn-while-doing, the “total immersion” philosophy, does have its benefits, but that process takes place in front of less-than-forgiving audiences, and requires a lot of stage time to finally internalize — a luxury most performers/troupes don’t have.

Enter this class: it’s here you’ll learn the kinds of useful moves you and your troupe members can make in a long-form show to not only add flavor and texture to your performance but which will also help you find the fun — and  follow it — to the delight of audiences. As individuals or as troupes, you’ll be exposed to everything from editing (perhaps the most difficult skill to learn in all of improv) to time-jumps, to heightening to “game style” improv, as well as exposure to some of the more popular forms and styles of long-form improv. And you’ll come away with a more comprehensive understanding of long-form, of its potential to be a highly focused uniquely narrated entity, rather than merely “one damned thing after another.”

This course is ideal for those novices new to long-form who might not be ready to tackle The Harold, or who are hoping hoping to expand their range of options when performing, and for people or even entire troupes wanting to create more cohesion while getting reps in to prepare for your next performance.

Instructor: Shawn Westfall

Prerequisites: Introduction to Improv, taken at either The Unified Scene Theater or at a recognized improvisational comedy theater

 

Improv for Business Leaders (Present and Future)

Wednesdays, 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., October 18th through November 15th (four weeks of instruction, with a graduation show in week five, on November 15th).

We hear many reasons why students sign up for an improv class. Everything from “I need better people skills” to “I need to do something fun outside of my job”. What if improv skills could actually enhance your job? What if you could take the fun, joy and life skills experienced with improv and apply these to your work on a daily basis?

Our Improv for Business class will teach you to do just that. We will address a variety of realities and fears business professionals face every day using the lens of improv, including:

  • Public speaking: Learning how to feel more comfortable and confident in public speaking situations
  • Going “off script”: Handling unexpected conversations, and delivering presentations without just reading from PowerPoint slides
  • Teambuilding: Creating healthy, supportive team relationships whether as a leader or team player
  • Positive culture: Bringing a “Yes, and…” attitude to the workplace and infusing that spirit across the office
  • Listening: Understanding the importance of listening to your colleagues, clients and business partners so that you don’t miss critical information, both which is said and unsaid
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Recognizing and owning your own emotions and others and leveraging those for authentic communications in the workplace
  • Creativity: Tapping into your creative side to reduce fear, unlock barriers and generate new ideas at work
  • Body Language: Building awareness of physicality and body language to understand how nonverbal cues often provide more insight than words in daily communications

This course is designed for anyone who works in a business environment, anyone who wants to work in a business environment, or frankly for anyone who works and deals with others at all.

Bring yourself, a notebook and an open mind. All egos must be checked at the door.

Instructors: Shawn Westfall and Kathy Baird Westfall

Attendance Policy

Due to the collaborative nature of this art form, attendance is crucial to both a positive experience as well as to establishing “group mind” and cohesion when it comes to getting on stage and creating the “fun” of improv out of whole cloth. That said, if your schedule doesn’t allow your attendance in that you know you’ll be missing classes, you might want to reconsider taking the class when you’re more available. There is an attendance policy in place in all TUS classes, and not adhering to it will influence both your placement in the graduation performance showcase at the end of class, as well as your placement in any subsequent TUS classes.

Refund Policy

Full refunds are allowed up to three full days prior to the start of the class. Any withdrawal during that window will result in a cancellation fee. Absolutely NO refunds will be issued once the class has started.