Brenner at the Chron did a nice job identifying and describing all the different improv schools in town. Here’s the section on Merlin Works:
Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation
2803 Manor Rd., 657-3005
When Sean Hill started the Heroes of Comedy in 1998, he was known as the Supreme Ruler, and Shana Merlin was his High Priestess. Besides performing regularly with those heroes for years, Merlin taught classes at the Hideout and at the nearby State Theatre. “I was teaching a lot of one-off classes in different places then,” Merlin says. “I taught a scene-study class, an improv class, a lot of different things. I had these great students that would take a class, but there was nothing after that – it wasn’t a series of classes leading to advanced performance or the formation of a troupe. I started my improv school so I could give my students the full range of the skills that would help them perform the sort of improv that I like to see and do.”
These days, Merlin performs as part of the musical improv troupe Girls Girls Girls and as one-half of the acclaimed Get Up duo. These days, her Merlin Works organization is the local leader in improv training for corporate accounts – businesses wanting to provide effective and enjoyable team-building, communication-enabling exercises for their workers. But does she (along with her handpicked faculty) also continue to teach the basics and beyond to regular, non-Dilberted citizens? That’s what MW’s Institute for Improvisation is dedicated to all year long, working out of Salvage Vanguard Theater and bringing the discipline’s best practices to light.
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