About Chicago Improv Productions


Mission Statement

Chicago Improv Productions' mission is to celebrate the present, honor the past, and showcase the future of improvisational theatre, in all of its multi-disciplinary expressions, through local, regional, national, and international prespectives; by presenting and producing performances and workshops for both the general public and practicing improvisational theatre artists.


Board of Directors

President: Chris Tarzon
Vice-President: Mark Sutton
Secretary: Justin Smith
Treasurer: Cheryl Harris

Members At Large: Alan Barinholtz, David Fink, Jonathan Kurasch, Jonathan Pitts, Cheryl Sloane


Advisory Board

Dan Abbate, Andrew Alexander, Kirsten Ames, Matt Barbara, Frances Callier, Paul Fleishman, Dave Gaudet, Jason Geis, Charna Halpern, John Heinson, Tim Kazurinsky, Beth Kligerman, Kelly Leonard, Diana Martinez, Sean Monahan, Mick Napier, Sheldon Patinkin, Joyce Piven, Brian Posen, Bernie Sahlins, Cheryl Sloane, Claire Sutton


Administration & Staff

Executive Director - Jonathan Pitts*
Producing Director - Aren Zolninger
Assistant Producers - Lisa Akroush, Natasha Bhamla, Katie Johnston-Smith, Ruth Morrison, Stacey Smith, Jenna Steege
Production Assistants - Caleb George, Ricky Haschemeyer, Nick Klahs

Chicago Improv Festival
CIF Artistic Director - Kevin Mullaney
CIF Curators - Joey Bland, Jeff Bouthiette, Sean Cusick, Rene Duquesnoy, Jen Ellison, Andy Eninger, Dina Facklis, Lillian Frances, Keith Habersberger, Cesar Jamie, Rachael Mason, Ted Tremper
CIF Education Director - Mark Sutton
CIF Improv Ambassador - Susan Messing
CIF Industry Director - Wendy Mateo
CIF Party Coordindator - Brianna Baker
CIF Apprentice Team Coaches - Jill Bernard, Joe Bill, Paul Brittan, Emily Dugan, Jet Eveleth, Annie Hoff, Kevin Mullaney, Levin O'Connor, P-Graph, Jake Schneider, Rich Sohn, Jay Sukow

College Improv Tournament
CIT Nationals Producer - Jonathan Pitts
CIT Regionals Producer - Keith Habersberger
CIT Associate Producer - Alison Royer
CIT Marketing Consultant - Sean Monahan
CIT Webcast Director - Greg Birdsell

Teen Comedy Fest
TCF Artistic Director - Jessica Rogers
TCF Producers - Jamie Black, Angela McMahon
TCF All-State Improv Team Coaches - Emily Dugan, Caleb George, Jonathan Pitts, Stacey Smith

CIP Benefit
Benefit Producer - Jonathan Pitts
Benefit Coordinator - Jen Schultz

Education Outreach
Teachers - Emily Dugan, Natalie Ellis, Caleb George, Annie Goodson, Keith Habersberger, Ricky Haschemeyer, Nick Klahs, Jonathan Pitts

Additional Staff
Flash Animator - Rick Gorge
Graphic Designer - Blake Mikol
Musical Directors - Matt Herzau, Jonathan Wagner
Photographers - John Abbott, Sarah Albritton, Jon Cole, Angela Manginelli, Jerry Schulman, Lindsay Williams, Aren Zolninger
Program Assistants - Nate Baumgart, Chris Bogue, Sean Conroy, Jenni Guarascio, Megan Miller, Lisa Ridarelli, Andrew Waple, Ashley Whitehurst
Publicist - Jennifer McLaughlin
Social Media Director - Jake Schneider
Sound Board Operator - Mike Tanko
Stage Managers - Brittany Boyer, Dan Ennion, Brian Hagy, Britney Sayler, Mary Beth Smith, Dan Wright
Talent Coordinators - Jamie Black, Patrick Rowland
Venue Managers - Natalie Ellis, Marty Green, Sean Sheridan
Videographers - Ramiro Castro, Jack Gallagher, Ethan Goldman, Micah Philbrook, Aren Zolninger
Website Consultants - Dan Abbate, Barry Kafka
Website Designers - Taylor Brown, Kevin Mullaney
WebMaster - Jonathan Pitts

(*Co-Founder of Chicago Improv Festival)


Funders

City Arts Grant
The Field Foundation
Illinois Art Council
The Second City Foundation


Partners

Chicago:

Annoyance Theater; Around The Coyote Arts Festival; Artropolis; Beverly Arts Center of Chicago; Chemically Imblanced Comedy; Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs; Chicago Park District; Chicago Public Library; Columbia College Chicago Television Department; ComedySportz Chicago; Improv Playhouse; iO Comedy Theater; Laugh Out Loud Theater; Links Hall; Loyola University; pH Productions; The Playground; Piven Theatre Workshop; Resolution Digital Studios; The Second City; University of Chicago's Theatre Department

National:

Black Box Improv Festival (Atlanta); Comedy City (Kansas City); ComedySportz Indy (Indinapolis); Dad's Garage (Atlanta); Hideout Theatre (Austin); HUGE Theater (Minneapolis); Improv-Abilities (Kansas City); Improv Asylum (Boston); Improv Boston (Boston); JackPie (Atlanta); Jet City Improv (Seattle); Magnet Theater (New York); On The Spot (Honolulu); Out of Bounds Comedy Fest (Austin); Philly Improv Theatre (Philadelphia); Philadelphia Joke Initiative (Philadelphia); San Francisco Improv Festival (San Francisco); Unscripted Theatre Company (San Francisco); Westside Comedy Theatre (Santa Monica)


Artistic Associates

Chicago:
Joe Bill, Jet Eveleth, Jeff Griggs, Nick Johne, Susan Messing, Amy Roeder, Mark Sutton, Marz Timms

National:
Jill Bernard (Minneapolis), Trish Berrong (Kansas City), R. Kevin Doyle (Honolulu), Shaun Landry (Los Angeles), Will Luera (Boston), Alex Marino (New York), Andrew McMasters (Seattle), Dan O'Connor (Los Angeles), Jesse Parent (Salt Lake City), Dave Razowsky (Los Angeles), Ed Reggi (St. Louis), Asaf Ronen (Austin), JStar (Atlanta), Todd Stashwick (Los Angeles), Zach Ward (Chapel Hill), Jamie Wright (San Francisco)

International
Tale Berntsen (Oslo), Deborah Frances-White (London), Fabian Garza (Mexico City), Kerry Griffith (Toronto), Naomi Ikegami (Tokyo), Wade Jackson (Auckland), Andrew Moskos (Amsterdam), Marianne Steinsrud (Gojik)


Chicago Improv Festival Awards

Lifetime Achievement:

Andrew Alexander; Dick Blasucci; Del Close; Severn Darden; Martin DeMaat; Don DePollo; Joe Flaherty; Charna Halpern; Fred Kaz; Tim Kazurinsky; Mina Kolb; Laraine Newman; Sheldon Patinkin; Dan Patterson; Byrne Piven; Joyce Piven; Josephine Raciti-Forsberg; Harold Ramis; Bernie Sahlins; Dick Schaal; Avery Schreiber; David Shepherd; Paul Sills; Joyce Sloane; Viola Spolin; Eugene Troobnick; Fred Willard

Ensemble of the Year:

Annoyance Theater; Beer Shark Mice; The Improvised Shakespeare Company; Key & Peele; TJ & Dave; Upright Citizens Brigade

Improviser of the Year:

Dan Castellaneta; Adam McKay; Susan Messing; Colin Mochrie; Stephnie Wier

Spotlight:

Alan Barinholtz; Frances Callier; George Earle; David Fink; Claire Geall; Schadenfreude

50th Anniversary Recognitions:

The Compass; The Playwright's Theatre Club; The Second City


Chicago Improv Productions' 2008 Statistics (12/23/08)

In 2008, CIP produced 124 performances, which were seen by 15,017 people. The populations served were 72% European-American, 21% African-American, and 7% Latino-American.

In 2008, CIP showcased over 600 improvisers in performance. The improvisers were professionals, semi-pros, college students, high school students and grammar school students.

In 2008, CIP taught 34 workshops and 621 students participated. The ages served were 6% grammar school students, 69% high school students, 4% college students, and 21% adult students.

In 2008, CIP presented 10 different original programs (All-State Improv Team; Chicago Improv Festival; CIF Preview; College Improv Tournament; Holiday Storybox; Ridge Park Summer Theatre Camp; Storybox; Storybox For Kids; Teen Comedy Fest; World Tales).


Staff Bios

Jonathan Pitts, CIP Executive Director

Jonathan Pitts is the Co-Founder of the Chicago Improv Festival, and this is his 15th year working on CIF. He is also the Creator and Founder of the College Comedy Championship the Teen Comedy Fest and CIP's education outreach programs. For three years in a row he was selected by New City as one of Chicago’s "Top 50 Theatre Players".

For seven years, he was the Theatre and Performance Arts Curator for the Around The Coyote arts festival and two years for their Winter Fest. For two years he was the Coordinator of the Bailiwick Directors Festival. While there he also Co-Founded and Co-Produced Bailiwick's Naked i Visual Arts Festival. For two years he was the Producer of Art Attack, a performing arts festival in Three Oaks, Michigan, and for two years he also was the Co-Producer of Three Oak’s Shakespeare in the Park.

As a creator/director of spontaneous theatre, performance art, original productions, and sketch comedy, he has created/directed several shows including Storybox; Storybox's World Tales; Double Play; Viola Spolin: Visionary Woman of Play; The Xprovisation Series; The Silent Movie; The Oracle; Chimes; The Answer; Kidz Writes; Sybil's Playhouse; and for three years in New Mexico, Phantasmagoria Improvisational Theatre. For two years he was the Resident Improv Director at Chicago's Navy Pier.

He is currently an Advisory Board member of Directors Lab Chicago. He's a former Artistic Associate of Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and WNEP Theater. He's also a former company member of Blue Rider Theatre. As an improviser he has performed in over 1,000 improvised shows with several improv ensembles across America. He was a member of iO's first ever House Team, Stone Soup. As an actor he has appeared in over 30 productions with numerous Chicago area theatre companies.

For the past ten years he's been a Guest Artist Faculty Member of The Second City Training Center. For five years he was an Artist-In-Residence at Richards High School. He's also taught improv and theatre workshops for After School Matters, Beverly Arts Center, Brave New Workshop, Chicago Academy for the Arts, Chicago Park District, DePaul University's Writing Program, Dirty South Improv Festival, Free Street Theater, Illinois High School Theatre Fest, Magic City, Redmoon Theater, Southwest Theatre Fest, London's The Spontaneity Shop, and Very Special Arts.

He was a contributing writer to Anne Libera's book The Second City's Almanac of Improvisation. He also wrote the forward to CIF Artistic Associate Asaf Ronen's book Directing Improv. In 1984, as a young Chicago improviser, he wrote the original version of An Improv Almanac.

Aren Zolninger, CIP Producing Director
Aren's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Natasha Bhamla, CIP Assistant Producer
Natasha's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Jamie Black, CIP Assistant Producer

Jamie Black has been an actor/comedian in Chicago for over 13 years. He has performed with many theatres in Chicago and LA. He studied improv at The Players Workshop and is a graduate of The Second City Writing Program. He is a founding member of the sketch comedy group Soul Fools. After performing in the 2004 Chicago Improv Festival, Jamie began working for the festival as a driver and has been working with CIF ever since, including the last three years serving also as an emcee. Jamie's television credits include The Chelsea Handler Show. He can also be seen as The Bathtub Philosopher on YouTube.

Keith Habersberger, CIT Associate Producer

CIF Productions named Keith Habersberger to be the College Improv Tournament's new Assistant Producer. He will work with CIT's Producer Jonathan Pitts and CIT's Associate Producer Alison Royer on the 2010-11 tournament. Keith was the former team captain of The Improv Mafia when they won the CIT 2008 title and now he tours nationally for Mission Improvable.

Katie Johnston-Smith, CIP Assistant Producer
Katie's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Wendy Mateo, CIF Industry Director


Wendy's bio will be posted soon.

Susan Messing, CIF Improv Ambassador

Susan Messing, a New Jersey native, is a graduate of Northwestern University.  She has performed for over eighteen years with Chicago's iO Theatre, and created and teaches their Level Two Curriculum which is used in Chicago and LA's iO West.  At the legendary Second City, Susan wrote and performed in two mainstage revues and directed their National Touring Company.  Susan is a founding member of the infamous Annoyance Theatre where she has created roles in over thirty original productions, including Co-Ed Prison Sluts, The Miss Vagina Pageant, and Your Butt

In addition, she conceived, co-adapted (with Mary Scruggs) and directed the critically acclaimed What Every Girl Should Know...An Ode to Judy Blume for the Annoyance stage, where she also continues to teach.  You can see Susan’s critically-acclaimed show, Messing with a Friend, now in its third year, every Thursday night @ The Annoyance. 

Susan is an adjunct professor for Loyola University, DePaul University's Theatre School, and The University of Chicago.  Her standup act with her puppet, Jolly, has been featured at the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, and on Comedy Central's Premium Blend and NBC's Late Fridays.  You can hear her voice on radio and tv ads.  Susan has been cut from several blockbuster films, but her recent movie role in Let's Go to Prison! as a bad stripper in a halo brace, made her very happy.  Her daughter, Sofia Mia, is very four, very ridiculous, and very awesome.

Sean Monahan, CIP Associate Producer (West Coast)
Sean's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Ruth Morrison, CIP Assistant Producer
Ruth's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Kevin Mullaney, CIF Artistic Director


Kevin's bio will be posted soon.

Jesscia Rogers, TCF Artistic Director
Jessica's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Stacey Smith, CIP Assistant Producer
Stacey's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Jenna Steege, CIF Assistant Producer
Jenna's photo & bio will be posted soon.

Mark Sutton, CIF Education Director

Mark Sutton is the former Artistic Director of the Chicago Improv Festival, in 2006 he became the festival's Artistic Director. 2010 was be his 5th and final year as CIF's Artistic Director. He's also a former Assistant Producer for CIF. He is one of 3 improvisers (along with Joe Bill and Susan Messing) to have performed in all 11 Chicago Improv Festivals.

A founding member of The Annoyance Theater and he's been performing, teaching, writing, and directing comedy in Chicago for 22 years. Over the last 7 years, he has become highly known for being half of the hit improv duo BASSPROV with Joe Bill. BASSPROV has performed nationally and internationally at numerous improv festivals. BASSPROV debuted in 2002 at CIF's Improv All Night and for the past six years headlined on CIF's Main Stage with special guests Dan Castellaneta, Mo Collins, TJ Jagodowski, Tim Kazursinky, Emo Phillips, Horatio Sanz, and Fred Willard.

He also performed in the critically acclaimed improv duo Sutton and Hallal, and they appeared at numerous improv festivals across North America. He appeared in over 65 original shows at The Annoyance Theater including Co-Ed Prison Sluts; Manson: The Musical; and The Real Live Brady Bunch. He has appeared in several independent films including Fatty Drives the Bus; Waiting For The Man; Watch; and Penniless: One Man's Crusade.

He's a former director of The Second City National Touring Company, and he directed the Canadian premiere of Co-Ed Prison Sluts for The Second City Toronto. Currently, he teaches and performs for The Second City BizCo. He is also a member of the faculty at Annoyance Theater, The Second City Training Center, and he has taught at almost every North American improv festival, including (of course), Chicago Improv Festival.


Chicago Improv Productions' Administration/Staff Alumni (1998-2012)
With gratitude to the following people for their work in CIP's CIF, CIT, & TCF:

Lucinda Alipio: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Sinead Aylward: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Isla Axelrod: Associate Producer, Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Ana Bahow: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Liz Bill: Production Manager
Becky Brett: Associate Producer, Special Events Director
Mikayla Brown: Venue Manager, Production Assistant
F. Tyler Burnet: Stage Manager (Main Stage)
Frances Callier: Co-Founder, Co-Producer
Karen Castillo: Talent Coordinator
Amanda Cohen: Talent Coordinator
Mike Descoteaux: Musical Director
Vivienne Dipilou: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Emily Dugan: TCF Artistic Director/Producer
Tim Dunn: Production Assistant
Chris Edwards: Assistant Producer
Heather Elam: Stage Manager (Main Stage)
Forsyth: Webmaster
Fuzzy Gerdes: AV Designer (Main Stage), Venue Manager, Film-maker
Dori Goldman: Party Coordinator
Merrie Greenfield: AV Coordinator
Don Hall: Associate Producer, Graphic Designer, Webmaster
Karin Hansen: Managing Director, Education Director, Intern Coordinator
Mark Henderson: Venue Manager
Margaret Hicks: Party Coordinator
Shaun Himmerick: Venue Manager
Paul Imboden: Webmaster
Jess Jones: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Megan Kellie: Production Assistant
Kelly Kreglow: Associate Producer
Rebecca Langguth: Production Manager
Will Luera: Assistant Producer
Steve Lund: Venue Manager
Matt Malinsky: Intern Coordinator
Meredith Melville: Education Director
TJ Miller: Party Coordinator
Deanna Moffit: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Rachel Mottaz: Production Manager
Chris O'Biddle: Set Designer (Main Stage)
Judy O'Brien: Publicist
Megan Pedersen: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Meghan Pressman: Assistant Producer, Venue Manager
Ed Reggi: Stage Manager (Main Stage)
Rachel Romanski: Associate Producer, Assistant Producer, Talent Coordinator
Mike Ross: Graphic Designer, Webmaster
Gary Rudoren: Set Designer (Main Stage)
Sheila Schmidt: Set Designer (Main Stage)
Steven Schmidt: Light Designer (Main Stage)
Sean Sheridan: House Manager (Main Stage)
Jeffrey Shivar: Musical Director
Jake Snodgrass: Light Designer (Main Stage)
Beth Silverman: Publicist
Sarah Tolbert: Production Assistant
Trent: Education Director, Intern Coordinator
Zach Ward: Associate Producer, Assistant Producer, Intern Coordinator
Sven Werschler: Webmaster, Film-maker
Allison Yates: Publicist

Chicago Improv Productions, NFP:

Chicago Improv Productions NFP is an Illinois not-for profit arts organization, with a 501(C)(3) granted from the IRS under its original organizational name "Chicago Improv Festival". It also does business as "Chicago Improv Foundation" and "Chicago Improv Productions".


 


Productions