Our History

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.

Over time, Shana started hearing more and more feedback regarding how the workshop had improved other “unrelated” parts of their lives:

One student energized a board meeting with an improvised icebreaker. Another began playing improv games with her husband to improve their communication. A third said improv helped him ace a job interview; a fourth said it helped him close a sale.

Shana started teaching improv at businesses, organizations, and schools to spread her message of play, group creativity, and spontaneity. In 2003, Merlin Works was born. The company began offering improv to everyone who wanted it:

  • Performance training to improvisers
  • Applied improv training to businesses and organizations; and
  • Improv comedy performances for audiences everywhere.

In 2008, the Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation opened, a school offering classes in short form gameplay, improvised plays, and musical improv at the Salvage Vanguard Theater.

Hundreds of students and classes later, Merlin Works lives at the ZACH Theatre on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. If you want to be part of the best improv school in Austin, come join us. We promise that you’ll have fun and meet new people. Heck, you might even get good at comedy before you know it…


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What can you learn from improv?

What to expect in our improv classes

  • Fun: Laughter, playfulness, and joy are key aspects to our successful improv training.
  • Professionalism: Our workshops are also professional, focused, and productive. Our curriculum is #1 in Austin.
  • Interactivity: Attendees will be active and engaged. You should be up on your feet improvising at least 50% of the time.