Austin Chronicle Write Up: Keith Johnstone Comes to Austin

I’m mentioned in this article and quoted as well.

That description brings Austin’s duo Get Up – Shannon McCormick and Shana Merlin – immediately to mind.

“Oh, definitely,” says Badr, “those two are really rooted in that style. And Shana has studied with Johnstone quite a bit, and she was one of the first people to register for the four-day workshop. Just the list of people taking this workshop is incredible. And almost everyone in the workshop is going to be in Saturday night’s Maestro at the Long Center.”

At least half that class are fixtures in the Austin improv scene. Shana’s in it, and Bill Stern, Jill Bernard, Kaci Beeler, Jeremy Lamb – people who left Austin are flying back to take this workshop.

Shana Merlin, Prinicipal, Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation:“When I saw Keith Johnstone teach and direct for the first time, what impressed me most is that he saw the improv coming from a mile away. A scene would start, and I would have no idea where it was going, and he would pause the scene and knew exactly where it was going. Or, better yet, had four or five excellent ideas about where it could go. This made it so he could direct improvisers so effortlessly that it seemed like he wasn’t doing anything at all – which made the students in the class look brilliant, as if they’d done it all on their own. I came away from that summer in Canada with the goal of seeing improv the way Keith did, seeing the whole game play out in the moment and in the future at the same time. It makes me think of an article I read about how Roger Federer plays tennis, how for him the tennis ball is huge and slowly makes its way across the net, because he just sees things so far in advance and can react so quickly. It’s actually a different game for him than it is for you and me.”

About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.

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