TCIF Workshops

TCIFX features an incredible line-up of some of the nation’s best improv teachers, favorites from over the past ten years of the festival.  Scholarships are available! Please contact

Individuals: $80 per class
TCIF performers: $60 per class
Weekday Hero: $120 for a Thursday and Friday class
Six-Pack: $360 for six classes

Thursday 6/23 6PM-8PM
Mark Sutton – Power Improv Characters register

This class is about creating and sustaining great characters that are not needy and dependent. Most improvisers give up power in their characters to help their partners and then hate what they’ve created for themselves. In this class you will discover ways to find whole, real and thoroughly entertaining characters that you can sustain over scenes and shows without losing power or momentum.
Friday 6/24 6PM-8PM – choice #1 Friday 6/24 6PM-8PM – choice #2
Joe Bill – Your Power Improv Toolkit register

The focus of this workshop will be bringing the power of emotional depth and point of view to your improvised Characters and Scenes. We’ll work with understanding the vital differences in Playing for Truth and Playing for Funny & Short Form/Games vs. Long Form. I’ll include personal feedback and ideas for things that you can play with, going forward as new tools on your improv tool belt. I’ll also spend some time troubleshooting issues that YOU the improvisers bring to workshop in order to get to clarity or just recognize patterns to be broken. This workshop will perfectly augment ongoing study of Characters and Scene, Long & Short Form Improvisation and Harold, as well as benefit the Improviser that is currently performing or aspiring to perform with a team or group.

Rafe Chase – Gaining Ground register

In an atmosphere that is both supportive and challenging, Rafe will help the individual players identify and explore areas on which to focus to facilitate their growth as an improviser.  
Saturday 6/25 10AM-1PM – choice #1 Saturday 6/25 10AM-1PM – choice #2
Matt Craig – Improv Diagnosis register

Discover what type of improviser you are using a simplified structure that will enable you to approach scene work in a whole new way. In this comprehensive workshop, we will categorize your strengths and weaknesses in a method that I have been developing for over ten years. You will leave this workshop able to identify yourself as either a proactive or reactive improviser, and why, and then be able to take away the positive and negative implications of both. After this workshop, participants will be able to pinpoint their strengths as an improviser, but also determine their weaknesses so that all who take it will become fully-rounded, unstoppable, improvising juggernauts.
Frank Caeti – Beyond the First Beat register

You have just performed the first couple scenes of your long form, now what? This class will focus on using scenes you have performed early in any long form structure to inspire new scenes and make strong connections. Students will learn techniques that go beyond just following plot and heighten the ideas you originally explored. Time-dash, analogous situation, theme, pattern recognition, character, location, game of scene, and following the fun – are all worthwhile threads to pursue for the second beat and beyond.

*recommended for intermediate to advanced improvisers

Saturday 6/25 2PM-5PM – choice #1 Saturday 6/25 2PM-5PM – choice #2 Saturday 6/25 2PM-5PM – choice #3
Frankenmatt – Creating the Ideal Scene Master Class register

The foundation of great improvisation is good scenes, but how often are we edited before the scene is complete? In this workshop we will focus on improvising two-person scenes utilizing emotion, character, and point of view. The ultimate goal of scenic improvisation is the discovery and manifestation of relationship. We will focus on helping participants learn how to create a complete scene, from beginning, middle, to end. In this comprehensive workshop, we will get you to capitalize on your choices early in a method called one idea, one comment then play the scene to the point of transformation or turn, and finally wrap up with a scenic resolve or at least a solid ending.

*recommended for intermediate to advanced improvisers

Stephen Kearin – Layers register

Improvise open scenes and then we’ll explore the various layers of the work; from Characters, Space Object, First Offers…even Sound! “Drill Down” and “Double Down” in this 3 hour intensive!
Matt Donnelly – History Philosophy Metaphor register

  Before moving a scene forward or focusing on heightening, Matt challenges you to do more with what you got before you invent more.Details, Specifics and Information are always needed for a good improv scene. This workshop teaches you HOW to create those scenic needs while creating enjoyable humor and sound theater as a side effects of generating the best details possible.Enriching your scenes with History Philosophy, Metaphor with allow for DOZENS of options for how to perform a great scene without getting boxed into uncomfortable situations where you’re in your head trying to figure out ONE way of doing the scene correctly.Tell stories, turn small choices into core character beliefs, express how you feel through a valid or flawed analogy and open up your scenes so that they inspire your form and fellow players while doing more with less.
Sunday 6/26 10AM-1PM – choice #1 Sunday 6/26 10AM-1PM – choice #2
Stephen Kearin – FWAAAP! POINK! KA-TAAANK! and Touching the Stone register

FWAAAP! POINK! KA-TAAANK!: Improvising Sound Effects. Unleash your inner machine gun with this introduction to the world of improvised sound effects. Come explore what you already know how to do.


TOUCHING THE STONE: Identifying and exploring First Offers. The very first offers in a scene can offer a shelter from the storm of ideas that overtake us as improvisers. Let “Learn To Return” become a valuable mantra and help you to travel lighter in your work.

Tim Orr – Love, Intimacy, Proximity and Sex (Physicality in Improv) register

Let’s get more love going on in our stories!    By being able to be more physical, we engage both ourselves and our audience on a visceral level. How do we become comfortable with being close to each other, and being physical with each other when appropriate to the scene or story?  We’ll look at some guidelines and techniques for engaging each other onstage.

Caution:  this class can get pretty steamy, so if you don’t like fire, stay out of the kitchen!

Sunday 6/26 2PM-5PM – choice #1 Sunday 6/26 2PM-5PM – choice #2
Rafe Chase – Acting in Longform register

Be “other people” and have their feelings as you explore the style and depth of acting needed to sustain an extended narrative.   Through exercises and longform scenes, Rafe will help you learn to inhabit the moment your character is living, while staying open to the joys and surprises that improv can bring.
Tim Orr – Silent Scenes register

Doing scenes with no talking (!) takes us into a realm of non-verbal communication which is both challenging and eye-opening.  How do we do it with clarity and commitment?  How do scenes build?  We need to pay attention and respond to each other in new and exciting ways.  Fun!

Joe Bill
Joe Bill has performed with, coached and directed a vast number of successful groups and formats including The Screw Puppies at Annoyance, The Del Tones, The Armando Diaz Theatrical Experience and Georgia Pacific (originators of The BAT) at iO Chicago. He directs and performs in Chica Go-Go and is a guest performer in The Scene at The PIT in New York City and he’s frequently a guest improviser in Let’s Have A Ball and ASSSSCAT 3000 at UCB Theater in New York & L.A. In 2015 Joe undertakes an International Tour of Improvisational Duo Shows, paired with some of the best Duo Improvisers in the World. In late January, Joe headlined with longtime friend and Chicago Improv Goddess Susan Messing in Messing With a Friend at the Miami Improv Festival. The rest of 2015 Joe plays with Lee White (CRUMBS Winnipeg) in their show PARADIGM, in the U.K. He’s back in April with longtime partner Mark Sutton in BASSPROV (2009 Nichols & May Award for Outstanding Improv Duo) at The Chicago Improv Festival after playing in Paris with International Improv Legend Patti Stiles (AD – Impro Melbourne) in their show Our Play and in the Festival Cast of Festival Subito!, including a new Duo with Israeli Powerhouse Inbal Lori in Brest, France. He’ll play with partner David Razowsky (Host A.D.D. Comedy Podcast) in Razowsky & Bill, and with Jill Bernard (Huge Improv Theater Mpls.) in SCRAM! and much more through the end of 2015. Joe was one of the co-founders of Annoyance Theater and has performed, directed, taught and acted as an Artistic Adviser for a number of Improvisation/Comedy Theaters & Festivals all over North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa and at every major Improv Festival in The United States. He first studied Improvisation in High School in 1977.

Frank Caeti
Frank Caeti is an actor, improviser, writer, and director. As a performer, his credits include MADtv, The Second City Chicago (Tourco and resident company alum), Key and Peele, iO Chicago, Reno 911, iO West, UCBLA, Just for Laughs Montreal, LA Jolla Playhouse, Kirk Douglas Theater, Dallas Theater Center, and CSz Chicago. He is also one half of the duo FrankenMatt and currently a faculty member at The Second City Hollywood. Currently he performs with at UCB with the house Harold team Zoo Zoo and in The Armando Show ai iO West. He has directed many shows including the hit shows at Second City Hollywood called Undateable and Ithamar Has Nothing To Say, both of which Matt Craig called a directorial tour de forces. Frank has taught improv for ComedySportz and Second City in Chicago and Las Vegas. He has led workshops in dozens of cities including Denver, Seattle, Charleston, Dallas, Vienna, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

Rafe Chase
Rafe Chase has been a working improviser for over three decades and is described by SF Weekly as “one of the most celebrated figures on the San Francisco improv scene today.”
After only three months of classes, Rafe began improvising professionally with Flash Family at the Old Spaghetti Factory in North Beach in 1978. He left three years later to create Riot Squad, where he served as director and head writer for the group which performed both improv and sketch comedy. Rafe joined BATS Improv in 1987, served as artistic director for two years and continues to work with the group as both a teacher and a Company Player.
In 1988, Rafe became a member of Pulp Playhouse, which performed at the Eureka Theater doing improvised stories in the style of the pulp magazines of the 30’s and 40’s.
The next year he formed Improv Theater, which was a popular fixture for several seasons at the ACT Playroom. With Rafe as the artistic director, the group would pioneer the exploration and performance of long-form improv. (Improv Theater’s first full length long-form was a Film Noir done on June 24, 1989)

Rafe was a member of True Fiction Magazine for five years, from its inception in 1994, and is still a frequent guest with the group. In 2007, he teamed with Gerri Lawlor for a series of two person improv shows. In his continued exploration of long-form improv, Rafe has created several formats including Split Decision and Double Feature™.

In 1996, Rafe, Stephen Kearin and Tim Orr created the critically acclaimed three-man group, 3 FOR ALL, which has wowed the crowds in a variety of cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York. Rafe has taught improv for various institutions, including Stanford University and ACT, as well teaching his ongoing private classes. He has also worked extensively with young people and taught improv at Berkwood Hedge Elementary in Berkeley for three years, to students ranging in age from 5 to 11. His work as a writer includes sketch comedy, lyrics, articles on show business history and the self-published comic poem, Alice Is… He also wrote the one-person show, Mysterious Ways for Regina Saisi, his colleague since 1979.

Matt Craig
Matt Craig began his career at Washington University with the troupe Mama’s Pot Roast. He was a writer for Saturday Night Live where he received an Emmy nomination. Previous theater credits include The Annoyance, iO, iOWest, Disney Cruise Lines, Brave New Workshop, The Second City Touring Company, The Second City ETC, and The Second City Mainstage. Recent television credits include According To Jim, The Office, and Frank’s favorite show Mobbed. He is currently a member of the faculty at the Second City Hollywood, taught for the Second City Conservatory in Chicago for five years, and the Brave New Institute in Minneapolis in addition to teaching workshops all over the United States. He works for Norwegian Cruise Lines writing and directing sketch comedy that is performed all over the world. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his lovely wife Rebecca, his daughter Phoebe and his son Jack.

Matt Donnelly
Matt is a Las Vegas-based improvisor – he teaches Advanced Longform for Improv Vegas and performed in Wayne Brady’s “Making **It Up” at the Venetian. He co-stars on Penn Jillette’s podcast Penn’s Sunday School, and Matt & Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social podcast. Originally from New York, he taught at the People’s Improv Theater in New York for six years. He co-created the Neutrino Video Projects, which appeared at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival and has been franchised to 11 other cities around the world. Previously, he taught improv in the acting program at the New York Film Academy, and is an annual guest instructor at the Columbia University Business School Executive Education Program. His improv teachers include Amy Poehler, Armando Diaz, Charna Halpern, Liz Allen, Miles Stroth as well as many others. He has coached house teams at The PIT, UCB, and Magnet Theatre in New York and is a BFA Acting Alumni of Montclair State University.

Frankenmatt is the duo of Matt Craig and Frank Caeti, find their bios higher up this alphabetical list.

Stephen Kearin
Stephen Kearin began his career with Bay Area Theatresports in San Francisco, where he was a company member for 14 years. He was a founding member of Improv Theater and True Fiction Magazine. Stephen is currently a member of the critically-acclaimed improv ensembles, 3 FOR ALL (along with Rafe Chase and Tim Orr) in San Francisco and Impro Theatre in Los Angeles.

For the past two years, Kearin co-directed Impro Theatre’s “Twilight Zone UnScripted” and recently, “The Western UnScripted” at the Falcon Theatre, all to rave reviews. In addition to lending his unique talents to countless improv performances within the U.S. and internationally, he has appeared in numerous stage productions, including the stilt-walking Iago in San Francisco Opera’s “Otello”, as Sally-Sue Weber in “A Weber Family Christmas” and he originated the role of Movie Mega-Superstar, Blaine Bustier, in “An Evening With Dirk & Blaine”.

Kearin is the co-creator of “Simlish” and was the principal male voice of “The Sims”, “Sims 2” and “Sims Medieval”. He created the Martian languages for Disney’s “Mars Needs Moms”. He is featured in the DreamWorks Animation films “Kung Fu Panda”, “Kung Fu Panda 2”, “Madagascar 2 & 3”, “Monsters Vs. Aliens”, “Megamind,” “Penguins of Madagascar,” and “Home.”

Kearin appears as the terrifying “Principal Mitchell” on the new Disney XD television series “Kirby Buckets”. He stars in “The Bunglers”, winner of Best Comedic Short at The 2012 Manhattan Film Festival. Kearin has been a visiting instructor at Stanford University and Cirque Du Soleil.

Tim Orr
Tim has improvised since 1988 with many San Francisco-based groups, including BATS Improv, Rafe Chase’s groundbreaking longform troupe Improv Theatre, the renowned True Fiction Magazine, and the acclaimed troupe 3 For All. In 2009, he founded a new improv group, the Improv Playhouse of San Francisco.
He has appeared in numerous plays in the San Francisco Bay Area and received critical acclaim for his leading roles in the improvised feature filmsSuckerfish and Security. With Stephen Kearin, Tim co-wrote and originated the role of Dirk Manly in An Evening with Dirk & Blaine.

Tim has performed (and taught) improvisation at the American Conservatory Theatre, BATS Improv, Stanford University, and many other venues nationally (Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, Louisville, Atlanta) and internationally (Amsterdam, Beirut, Helsinki, Leuven, London, Paris, Stockholm). He has served many times as the Director of BATS Longform Intensives.

Mark Sutton
Mark Sutton has been acting, directing and teaching in Chicago since 1987. He is a founding member of The Annoyance and has appeared in more than 75 Annoyance productions including Co-ed Prison Sluts, The Real Live Brady Bunch and Manson: The Musical. Annoyance directing credits include Pigs is Pigs: A White Trash Musical and Marry Me You Idiot. He also served for more than nine years as The Annoyance’s managing director and since 1993, has been a member of its faculty. Mark has appeared at IO Theater with the renowned improv group Georgia Pacific and is a performer and facilitator for The Second City where he is also a former director of the National Touring Company and directed the Canadian premiere of Co-ed Prison Sluts for Second City Toronto. Sutton is also an influential voice in the improv community across the United States and Canada. From 2005-2009, he served as the Artistic Director of The Chicago Improv Festival, and throughout the past decade, he has been a featured instructor in dozens of national improv and comedy festivals. His award-winning comedy BASSPROV (co-created with Joe Bill) has been seen in 30 cities in North America.