International Improv Reach

My instructional videos on eHow, Expert Village, and YouTube seem to be gaining traction in recent years. I’ve received several emails from people across the country and around the world letting me know that they’ve watched and enjoyed the videos.

Here’s a sample:

Hi Shana, 

I’m 21 and I’m portuguese and an huge fan of your videos from expert village on youtube. I just wanted to congratulate you, because I think you are really good on what you do, and most of all because you don’t mind sharing all those icebreakers and games with everyone.

I am studying informathics engineering, but I always loved acting and acting-related activities. And I think the kind of acting that I prefer is the Improv type, (if is there is such a type). But I think you understand what I mean. There’s a Drama Group here on my college and the reason I don’t join is because their plays are too abstract, too serious, too… much of thinking and not much of having fun.

After watching your videos I realised that was the kind of thing I would like to do. (no I can’t drop college right now xD) Maybe who knows someday when I am very very very wealthy (!!!) I can take a trip to Texas and attend to some of your classes or something! (:

I was invited to (not teach, more like entertain) a group of girls from 9 to 15 years old everyday saturday afternoon for two hours, and I found you on my research for material a few weeks ago.

So, your videos became very very usefull and inspirational.

I just wanted you to know, and leave somekind of tribute I guess, since I cannot attend any of your workshops.

Thanks a lot Shana, and I’m sorry for my bad english, hope you understood everything i meant or the most of it lol

best regards

Marta Baptista,




My name is Kathy Cluff and I am teaching drama this year. I don’t know much about it, so I got some books. I am using a book called Theater Arts 1 by Engelsman and another book, Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater. Anyway, the book mentioned using a game called “Czechoslovakia”. I couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to go so I searched on the internet and found you!

Thank you for posting that on the internet. It was just what I needed. Then I saw all sorts of other videos where you teach. They are wonderful! I think that my class would really benefit from watching how it’s done. I was just wondering if you have put all these clips together on a disc. I don’t really want the advertising and such that is on the internet. Is there a site that I can go to see all of them? Do you sell teacher’s packets?

Also, we go on a school trip every spring. I was just think how fun it would be to have my class work with you, or to watch you perform. Where are you located? Do you ever do classes with young people 12-6 years old? Maybe we could plan a trip around that.

Thanks for your time.

Kathleen Cluff

Heber J. Grant Academy

Tucson, Arizona

Hi Shana:

Greetings from sunny Amman!

I wanted to congratulate you on your e-How videos, and make a tech comment (about sound). Tech comment – the echo-y audio is distracting. Choosing a less echo-y area to shoot would really help make the audio more pleasing.

I wanted to ask if you come out to the Middle East to give classes?



Andy Jacobs | Chief Executive Officer
The Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts
The First and Only MFA Program in Cinematic Arts for the Middle East and North Africa
Launching exceptional filmmakers—for the MENA region, to the world

Dear Shana,

I am a drama teacher and head of performing arts at a middle school in the United Kingdom with 14 years teaching experience.

Part of my work remit is to develop community links and how the performing arts can be beneficial to the workplace, business and corporate world.

I have always been fascinated in improvisation as an entertainment medium; however over the last few years I have become increasingly fascinated with its use for team building and communication development.

I’ve spent the last couple of years researching the use of improvisation in its various forms by searching the web and reading extensively.  My searches have led me to your invaluable demonstrations on ‘ehow’ and to Merlin Works’ website.  I have used many of these skills within my lessons and the youngsters have been incredibly responsive.  Furthermore I have led some training sessions with teachers who have found the skills you’ve demonstrated useful in their own teaching across other curriculum areas.

My intention is to develop outreach projects with businesses and I wondered, in view of your experience, if you can point me in the right direction.  I’ve done some research into improv techniques I could use, however my background is purely in education and performing so I’m quite limited in my knowledge of how the business world operates, i.e. do you have to spend a great deal of time researching business practises or is it better to have an outsider’s perspective?

Sorry if I’ve bombarded you with loads of information but, of all the different sites I’ve visited, I have found yours the most accessible and useful.

Best wishes,

Paul Wildman

Director of Performing Arts Specialism
Lincroft School
Station Road
MK44 1PE
United Kingdom

I love hearing that I’m reaching people all over the world. (And I wish I did a better job with the videos, which now live forever on the internet. )

Its interesting to think of how online videos have changed the development of improv over the last ten years. I was thinking about this when I was at the Hawaii Improv Festival in September. There were some excellent improvisers who had been practicing there for over 20 years, but they were mainly in isolation developing their own styles. But in recent years they have been coming to festivals in the US and have access to internet videos of improv. I’m wondering how that’s changed their trajectory.

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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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