Shana Merlin

The Founder of Merlin Works, Shana Merlin is one of the most experienced and effective improv teachers in Central Texas. The former Dean of The Heroes School of Improvisational Theatre, Shana has been an internationally touring performer and award winning teacher since 1995. Shana has trained with some of the top teachers in the field of improvisation including Keith Johnstone, and members of Second City, The Annoyance, IO, The Groundlings and more.

Aden Kirschner

Aden has been on stage since she was 8 years old and teaching improv since she was a teenager.  Her comedy credits include Esther’s Follies, Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals Spitting Nonsense, The Starter Kit, Start Trekkin’, Apocalypse!, The Andersons, Battle Axe and cable-access sensation: The Late Night Lunch Show.  Aden teaches singing and regular old improv at Merlin Works.

Michael Joplin

Michael attended the University of Texas at Austin and received his Bachelors degree in Theatre and Dance. He is a founding member of the nationally touring Available Cupholders, performs regularly with the Knuckleball Now, and most recently has joined Gnap! Theatre Projects. Michael has coached several troupes, directed improv shows, and has taught improv to adults as well as children.

Michael Ferstenfeld

Ferstenfeld Head Shot 2013 web 150x150

Michael has produced, directed, and performed improv, scripted theater, films, and variety shows for over 12 years. The artistic director of DYSTHEATRE, a member of the internationally touring, two-time B. Iden Payne award-winning Best Improv Troupe in Austin, “Confidence Men: Improvised David Mamet,” creator & host of “Not This American Life,” director of “The Professor: Improv Inspired by Doctor Who,” part-time e-learning developer, and improv teacher to kids small and big alike.

Ted Rutherford

With more than 20 years of performing and teaching experience, Ted Rutherford is a theatrical heavyweight. In the past, Ted has taught improvisation with the We Could Be Heroes School of Improvisation and has trained various corporate clients. For the last 7 years, Ted has performed with the Heroes of Comedy, Foolish Mortals, Vertigo Ramp and currently with Junk. Ted has a B.F.A. in Theatre from the University of Mississippi and a M.Ed. from the University of Montevallo.

Kevin Miller

Kevin MillerKevin Miller has been involved in the Austin improv community since 2001, soon after graduating from The University of Texas. He has performed in numerous improv productions for the Hideout Theatre, Gnap! Theater Projects, and The Institution Theater as well as festivals around the world. With interests including ghost tours, Legos, and all things Apple, Kevin has has been a Merlin Works instructor since 2012.

Jason Finkelman

jason-01Jason has been performing improv and sketch comedy for over 12 years, beginning with Theater Strike Force at the University of Florida, and thereafter with Just The Funny in Miami and South Beach’s first and only improv/sketch comedy troupe, Model Citizens.  He has performed in numerous improv productions in Austin for the Hideout Theatre, Gnap! Theater Projects and ColdTowne Theater, and continues to perform throughout the city.

Lacy Shawn

Lacy2Lacy first attended formal improv classes through Merlin Works School of Improvisation.  Since then, she has performed in a variety of improv shows and troupes for Gnap! Theatre Projects, the Hideout Theatre, ColdTowne Theatre, and The Institution Theatre.  Lacy has traveled to Vancouver, Hawaii and New York City to perform improv, has directed shows within the Austin improv community, and has taught improv to both children and adults.

Jillian Summar

JillianSummar-headshotJillian has been a musical performer since she can remember, as a member of an international children’s choir, vocal groups, and in adulthood, several singer-songwriter groups, as well as indie-rock bands. She discovered improv in 2011 and has since performed in various improv productions around Austin, including local festivals, and building a name for herself as a singing improviser. Jillian has a masters of Education and believes that improv is one of the greatest educational gifts a person can give his or herself.

Chuy Zarate

Chuy Zarate_Headshot (1)Chuy Zarate has been an improv performer and director for over 20 years in Austin and San Antonio.  He has performed all over the US as well as internationally.  He is also an award-nominated director of scripted theatre.  He has been around the theatre for almost his entire life with his first time on a stage at age 6 months (He was napping, but he was there).