Instant Theatre’s school and training programs are proudly run by School Director Nikolai Witschl, an actor and improvisor based out of Vancouver.
What is your improv and acting experience?
I believe that improv and acting share many of the same interconnected principles, which probably comes from the training I received in Edmonton, AB. I graduated from the BFA Acting program at the University of Alberta, while simultaneously being a cast member at Rapid Fire Theatre. After graduating I moved to Vancouver and began performing and teaching with Instant Theatre, which continues my improv career of 15+ years, where I perform in many of our weekly and monthly shows, including the Twilight Zone-esque Outer Middle Zone, and our modern take on the Bard, Shakespeare after Dark. I have also gotten work in many film and television projects, including Supernatural, Once Upon a Time, X-Files, Lucifer, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl (with Kevin Smith) and Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain. You can view my imdb page here: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5775621/?ref_=rvi_nm
Also, here is a demo reel with many clips from my dramatic, comedic, and even scary (!) television and film work: https://vimeo.com/222026398
What is your improv philosophy?
As I often tell my students, improv makes me better at everything I do, which includes acting and auditions, as well as feeling more comfortable and confident in social situations, including public speaking. All improv stems from the core philosophy of “Yes, And” which is essential for collaboration and group storytelling, as well as discovering the comedy in any given scene. I believe in providing students with many opportunities to learn and perform, which is why Instant Theatre has Conservatory, a 3 month long advanced improv training program that gives students a weekly class and a couple of shows so you can learn in a supportive environment that provides opportunities to take risks and learn in front of an audience, who I find teach almost as much as our instructors.
How do improv and acting skills feed one another?
I find that improv helps with all of my acting work, from making quick, well informed decisions when I get the script for an audition the day before, to making dynamic acting choices that come from characters and can connect with an audience, improv simply helps me live in the moment and feel like a character living through an experience for the first time. Also, as an improvisor, many people get stuck in their “writer’s brain” and can drop the character they are playing to try to tell the story, when in fact creating characters that the audience can empathize with will always make for a funnier, more dynamic performance.
What is exciting about running a school?
Instant theatre has collected many amazing working actors and comedians from Vancouver to teach improv and acting, as well as stand up and sketch comedy. Instant Theatre’s mission statement of “What do you want to do, and how can we make it happen?” is a testament to our broad range of comedy courses, and it’s always thrilling for me to hear a student or cast member who wants to learn how to create something we don’t currently offer.