SAMANTHA JONES is an actor and director originally from New York City. Her recent acting credits include 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 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 is an actor, improv instructor, improv director and founding member of Hudson Valley Improv. He was a founding cast member of our first House Team, The Alter Egos, and went on to direct and perform for HVI's resident company. He hosts and performs with HVI throughout the area in venues including BSP, The Beverly Lounge, Art Society of Kingston, The Bridge Street Theatre, and The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park. Michael is the Director of our teen track of classes. He has directed the teen troupe, The Fridge Raiders, which has performed at The Sudbury School in Woodstock and The Beverly Lounge. Michael loves working with kids and teens, helping them to overcome their insecurities and empowering them to find their own artistic voice.
As an actor, Michael has been seen in Half Moon Theatre’s 10-Minute Play Festival, 20-Year Gala, and A Christmas Carol. He performed and directed for Hudson Valley STICKY short play festival in 2017 and 2018. He is a company member of The Voice Theatre and recently appeared in their production of All My Sons. He has also worked with The Howl Writer’s Group with their readings and play development.
Michael studied Theatre at SUNY New Paltz and received a BFA in Scenic Design. While studying design and acting, he began performing at the Summer Repertory Theatre “After Show Cabarets”. He was also a member of The Baker’s Dozen Improv Troupe at SUNY New Paltz, directed by Samantha Jones.