Players Workshop, the original school of improvisation in Chicago established in 1970, is offering free virtual workshops to teachers and furloughed or laid off workers to help them overcome some of the work challenges from the pandemic.
Teachers will learn improvisation exercises they can use to engage and focus their students in virtual classrooms. Those looking for work will learn how to become a better communicator, collaborator, problem solver and positive source of energy for potential employers.
The workshops for teachers will take place at 1PM CST August 5th and August 12th. Workshops for laid off or furloughed workers will take place at 1PM CST on August 13th and August 20th. Registration and list of classes may be found at PlayersWorkshopOnline.com.
Started by Chicago theater icon Jo Forsberg (a founding member of The Second City who left the company to open her own school) and recently reopened by new owner and Managing Director Jeff Rogers, Players Workshop offers individuals and teams from all backgrounds the opportunity to build confidence, listen more effectively and communicate better with newfound creative skills via classes and workshops.
“Improvisation has a mantra – “Got your back.” Performers say it to each other prior to going onstage as a sign of support,” said the new owner Rogers. “We wanted to offer these workshops as a way of saying to people who are struggling with finding a job or helping our kids during this overwhelming time that at Players Workshop, ‘we got your back.’
Like every other school, they had to move our entire curriculum online when the shutdown began. “What we learned is that improvisation exercises work to engage students virtually as well as they do in person,” said Rogers.
Improvisation – life skill which encourages people to perform fearlessly, listen fully and live in the moment – is now being taught in MBA programs at Duke, MIT, UCLA and Stanford and at major companies like Google, Pepsi, Motorola Solutions and GM. “We decided that folks who had lost their job or were worried about being let go should have a chance to learn these skills too.”
The school estimates that it has taught the art form to tens of thousands of people since its 1970 opening from celebrities to CEOs to teachers and accountants and everyone in between. Past graduates of Players Workshop also include familiar names like Amy Sedaris, Bill Murray, Brian-Doyle Murray, Bonnie Hunt, Bob Odenkirk, David Pasquesi, George Wendt, Harold Ramis, Shelley Long, and David Mamet to name a few.
Bonnie Hunt (’85), actress, director/writer contributed, “I’m forever grateful for all I gained from the Players Workshop experience – so many life enhancing skills, like listening, observing, teamwork, confidence, slowing down yet thinking fast, the value of every idea, and the joy of observing and celebrating all the characters in your life.”
Linnea Forsberg, daughter of founder Jo Forsberg and an instructor from 1970 to 2004 added, “Mom always felt that the lives of our students could be a work of art – that the skills we learn through the tenets of improvisation can be used to create a better life experience.”