Jun and Chris have a variety of workshops for your group or festival, both individually and as co-teachers.
Teaching and performing for over twenty years, Jun Imai and Chris Wells helped introduce improvised theatre to Japan. From trance masks and Zen and how it relates to impro, to Punching Up and dealing with minorities in a thoughtful way, they can bring a fresh perspective to your group or festival.
Trance Mask Workshop
Method Acting Workshop
Script Analysis and Preparation Workshop
According to Keith Johnstone, impro resembles Zen. We will explore being here and now moment to moment. Free yourself from ‘successes or ‘failure’; good or bad and right and wrong. Move from impulse, without thinking, unifying the mind, heart and body. Become one with others…and the world.
Trance Mask Workshop
This exploration of trance masks utilizes masks create by Jun himself that embody a variety of characters and emotions.
Method Acting Workshop
Jun first studied method acting while living in Los Angeles. This workshop brings his unique perspective and experience to this classic subject.
Script Analysis and Preparation Workshop
Beginning with the first reading and continuing on to in-depth analysis and preparation for scripted work in theatre and film.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Jun Imai lived in California for 8 years and, with Chris, is an Asian Region Representative for the International Theatresports Institute’s Board of Directors. He teaches a extensively throughout Japan and has taught in Canada, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, China and Dubai.
He has studied acting with various teachers, specifically Method Acting with Frank Casaro, Artistic Director of the Actor’s Studio, and improvisation with Keith Johnstone, creator of Theatresports. He has had the pleasure of being the simultaneous interpreter for method acting and improv workshops led by Keith Johnstone, Roberta Wallach, Lyn Pierce, Dennis Cahill, Shawn Kinley, Steve Jarand, and Mark Lamb.
He has been coaching and directing improv since 1995 and since 2005 he has directed and produced shows at the Tokyo Comedy Store, in Shibuya, Tokyo. With a cast of over thirty talented improvisors, TCS is one of Japan’s premiere improv groups. He tours Japan regularly, and has taught improv, acting, and mask work in six cities this year. He can teach in English or Japanese.
A prolific writer, he published “It’s Hard to be Free- an Impro Manual” based on his experience with bringing improv to the Japanese in 2006. It’s been a long-term best-seller in the theater community since then. He followed up in 2009 and 2010 with the three-volume “Japanese Who’ve Begun to Improvise: Keith Johnstone’s Impro”, and “Keith Johnstone in Japan” in 2013. Imai’s books have earned him praise as a thoughtful and incisive teacher and director.
In addition to directing at TCS, he teaches impro, scripted acting, and mask workshops through his own company, in the moment, ltd., and for Tokyo talent agencies. He has worked with both new and well-know film and television actors in Japan. He feels strongly that Japanese actors and panese society as a whole can benefit from what impro has to offer and is currently working on a book Zen and improvisation to bridge the gap between this most Western of arts and traditional Eastern philosophy.
Punching Up Workshop
That's It! Workshop
Drawing on his experience in psychology facilitating group sessions, this workshop focuses on finding humor with and about minorities and ethnic groups with your fellow improvisors before it comes up in a show.
Everyone has a different sense of humor, but dealing with stereotypes can be a touchy issue for any improv troupe. How do we develop a common philosophy that isn’t based on presumptions before the issues come up during a show? And how do we keep it funny?
More an exploration than a lecture, we’ll approach the subject through activities, scenes and discussion. “Punching up” is a term used to describe using satire against the powerful in society, as opposed to “punching down”, which is mocking those in a weaker position in society. What sort of comedy do we want to do? And how can we walk the line and represent all kinds of people in our work in the best way?
Focused on self-direction by the improvisors themselves. It provides tools for students and groups to facilitate their own workshops or rehearsals.
Drawing from traditional games as well as techniques developed in Chris' Tokyo workshops, improvisors focus on recognizing the core of each scene, as well as providing feedback in the moment on what interests them as audience members in ways that help the class
Improvised musicals are a mainstay of Improvazilla, the hit English language improv show in Tokyo, and Chris can help your group get to the heart of what makes an improvised musical work. From singing your Want to diamond choreography and the importance of simple choruses, this workshop will set you on the path to producing your own improvised musicals, or help an experienced team brush up an existing show. (Local Improvising Pianist required.)
Originally from the United States and a Tokyo resident since 1994, Chris Wells is a founding member of the Tokyo Comedy Store, where he directs the In The Moment improv program. He is an Asian Region Representative, along with Jun, for the International Theatresports Institute’s Board of Directors.
Improv has been a cornerstone of Chris’ life in Japan and since high school, where he competed and excelled in impromptu and extemporaneous speaking. With a BA in Psychology, he is interested in the transformative aspects of improv in people’s lives, as well as simply putting on a good show.
He focuses on the issue of minority representation within the context of Johnstone-style storytelling, as well as musical improv theatre with his troupe, Spontaneous Confabulation. He teaches a weekly and intensive improv workshops and has taught in Tokyo, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, China and Dubai. He can teach in English, Spanish, or Japanese.
He conducts team-building and creativity workshops for corporate and educational clients, including Yamaha Music English teachers, Nikko Shoken, Citibank, Yamaha Music, International Christian University MBA program, Pioneers Festival, and Eiko Seminar.
In addition to his work in the world of improv, he is a professional narrator heard around the globe on NHK World, in the audioguides of Japan's national museums, and by passengers of Japan’s bullet trains telling them when the next train for Kyoto departs in a soothing voice.
General Improv Workshops for all Levels
Intensive Improvisation Workshop: Keith Johnstone’s Impro
This workshop will introduce the main techniques, theories and games and exercises of Keith Johnstone’s improvisation. It will be of interest for corporate training instructors, educational specialists, public speakers, managers, actors, and those interested in teaching or performing improvisational theatre.
Participants will learn how skills such as active listening, positivity and truly engaging in other's ideas can have a positive effect in your life and career, boost meetings and discussions, and release your creativity. An active workshop, participants will engage in activities that bring important points home in a way that is unforgettable and extremely engaging. The workshop is a careful combination of instruction and activity designed to give participants a good foundation in the fundamentals of Keith Johnstone’s impro.
Intensive Improvisation Workshop: Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin’s Impro for Educators
This workshop will introduce the main techniques, theories and games and exercises of Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin. It will be of interest for educational specialists of all types, human resource managers and corporate trainers, and those interested in teaching or performing improvisational theatre.
Participants will learn how targeted exercises involving active listening, positivity, story-telling, acting skills, and cooperation with others can have a positive effect in the classroom. These exercises release students creativity, bring them out of their shells, and show them the fundamentals of acting and theatre in an engaging and non-threatening way.
An active workshop, participants will engage in the exercises and activities themselves, learning them in a way that is unforgettable and extremely engaging. The workshop is a careful combination of instruction and activity designed to give participants a good foundation in the fundamentals of Keith Johnstone and Viola Spolin’s impro.
It’s interesting because we don’t know what’s going to happen!
Every rule must be thrown away!
Failure and mistakes are very important.
Your best emerges when you aren’t trying!
Be in the moment… don’t think about what to do.
Don’t do it for you, do it for your partner.
What the audience expects.
On individuality: that which is most obvious to you is different for others.
Let yourself go.
What’s important isn’t words or ideas, it’s doing and being effected.
Don’t try to show off what you do well.
Status is about the balance of power with others.
Trying to be clever or original makes you boring!
Actively listening to others
Accepting and augmenting others ideas
Creating an atmosphere of trust and openness
Storytelling and the structure of narrative
The benefits of positivity vs. negativity
Identifying self-blocking behavior
How to create a variety of characters
Accepting failure with grace and good humor
Moving on from failure and learning from it
Rediscovering your innate creativity
Status and the role it plays in human interactions
Space object work
Play involving the successful pursuit of solving a problem
Focus on the center of activity
Direct experience and being in the moment
Spontaneity through play and problem solving