SAMANTHA JONES is an actor and director originally from New York City. Her recent acting credits include DR. DEATH/PEACOCK, EMERGENCE/ABC, BULL/CBS, THE BLACKLIST/NBC, LAW AND ORDER:SVU/NBC, SKIN with Jaime Bell, and DRIVEWAYS with Brian Dennehy. After teaching, directing & coaching her method of improv in NYC for over 20 years, she made the leap and moved to the Hudson Valley.
Sam's passion and unique approach to teaching improvisation is what brings students back again and again. To Sam, improv isn't about "being funny", it's about being FREE. This philosophy is the nuts and bolts if the work she does in her Improv Empowerment classes. The result? An incredibly supportive and creative community of students personally trained by Sam who speak a common language of performance technique. 90% of Sam's students aren't actors. They are every day people with jobs, families, responsibilities and lives who want to feel better. At Hudson Valley Improv they do just that.
Sam began teaching improv classes back in 1993 after studying with well-known professor and theatre director, Beverly Brumm. While her preference for performance purposes is short-form improv, Sam has developed her own unique form of improvisation which she has become known for. By combining intuitive theatre games, the Meisner technique, Viola Spolin, brain games, and physical challenges to her group events, Sam knows just how to tap into her students to quickly discover what is blocking them. She then creates original games to break down those blocks. She calls this method Improv Empowerment. Through this technique, Sam has helped hundreds of people learn how to get past the blocks and reclaim who they are instinctually.
All her work on stage and off eventually lead Sam to directing. Solo shows she has directed have appeared at numerous festivals all over the world. She has co-created and directed solo vehicles for other performers including standup comedy, talk shows, solo shows, and storytelling. She has also directed full-length plays and live concerts.
Sam has donated her empowerment work to several organizations including Upstate Women in Film and Television, the New Perspectives Theater Company, The Momentum Repertoire Company, and the Esther Ashkenas Central Park Early Learning Center. She was an honorary guest in the Think Tank at the Endangered Species Women's Conference in NYC. Additionally, Sam has contributed her talents to ARTISTS FOR THE CURE at Carnegie Hall, and WIGSTOCK. As a member of the Screen Actors Guild, she has represented the organization on the board of the NY Coalition of Professional Women in Arts and Media.
She was a founding partner of Dora Mae Productions and in addition to SAG, a longstanding member of AFTRA, AEA, and Alpha Psi Omega. She studied performance at The LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, UCB, HB Studios, Neighborhood Playhouse, Aretha Sills and SUNY New Paltz, where she returns often to speak to young theatre students about career and creative challenges after graduation.
MICHAEL WITHALL is an actor and improvisor. He studied acting and scenic design at SUNY New Paltz and graduated in 1993. His improv experience/study was at New Paltz, Hudson Valley Improv, Viola Spolin, Second City and The Groundlings
Today, Michael teaches, directs and performs improv with Hudson Valley Improv, and was part of the original cast, The Alter Egos. He has been hosting and performing with HVI throughout the area in venues including Boughton Place, BSP, The Beverly Lounge, Art Society of Kingston, The Bridge Street Theatre, and The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. He was a founding member of the house team Uncle Cannibal, and he directed the teen troupe, The Fridge Raiders. Michael loves everything about improv and thrives on helping students overcome their insecurities and empowering them to find their own artistic voice.
Michael’s acting credits include: Half Moon Theatre’s 10-Minute Play Festival, 20-Year Gala, A Christmas Carol, Hudson Valley STICKY short play festival in 2017 and 2018 and The Voice Theatre’s production of All My Sons. His film credits include: Kalookapop Studio’s Flood and Duality, and Hudson Valley Improv’s Town Council, No Hands, and The Board. email@example.com www.hudsonvalleyimprov.com
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