Players Workshop Returns With New Mission And Classes Starting Next Week
Players Workshop, the original school of improvisation in Chicago established in 1970, is reopening its doors just in time for a 50th anniversary celebration next year with classes beginning at its new facility, Pendulum Theatre, 1803 W. Byron Street, #216, starting Monday, Sept. 16. New owner Jeff Rogers, actor, creative director, and motivational speaker (Class of '89), has brought back founder Josephine Forsberg's daughter Linnea Forsberg ('70) and former teacher Doug Voegtle ('81) to recreate the famed safe learning space. Registration and list of classes may be found at PlayersWorkshopOnline.com.
The new mission for this iteration of the venerable school, started by Chicago theater icon Forsberg (a founding member of The Second City who left the company to open her own school), is to offer individuals and teams from all backgrounds the opportunity to build confidence, listen more effectively and communicate better with newfound creative skills via classes and workshops. Players Workshop is making the art of improvisation more fun, accessible, meaningful and applicable to life, work and play for everyone.
The school estimates that it has taught the art form to tens of thousands of people since its 1970 opening from celebrities to CEOs to teachers and accountants and everyone in between. Past graduates of Players Workshop also include familiar names like Bonnie Hunt, Bill and Brian-Doyle Murray, Amy Sedaris, David Pasquesi, George Wendt, Harold Ramis, Shelley Long, Bob Odenkirk and David Mamet to name a few.
Players Workshop started its relaunch with a successful "taste of improvisation" class through the Old Town School of Folk Music this past summer. Old Town School of Folk Music and Players Workshop are hoping to expand this partnership and provide more improvisational offerings at its new location. While Players Workshop has operated in a handful of theater spaces throughout its history, the Pendulum Theatre will be its new home in Chicago.
"If you're feeling a sense of being overwhelmed, and who isn't these days, improvisation is the way to get your mojo back. Our core curriculum, which encourages people to play fearlessly, listen fully and live in the moment, is a valuable foundation for all adult learners, no matter their vocation. Improvisation is a life skill which is now being taught in MBA programs at Duke, MIT, UCLA and Stanford and at major companies like Google, Pepsi, Motorola Solutions and GM," said the new owner Rogers.
"My job is to create a safe space where people can take chances while they learn about themselves, their classmates and about an art form that frees creativity while encouraging better communication and awareness of self and others," said Doug Voegtle, the new education director at Players Workshop. Voegtle served as a Players Workshop facilitator from 1981 to 1996 when its home was a storefront space on Lincoln Avenue.
Linnea Forsberg, who is returning to Players Workshop after being an instructor there from 1970 to 2004 addded,"Mom always felt that the lives of our students could be a work of art - that the skills we learn through the tenets of improvisation can be used to create a better life experience."
Bonnie Hunt ('85), actress, director/writer contributed, "I'm forever grateful for all I gained from the Players Workshop experience - so many life enhancing skills, like listening, observing, teamwork, confidence, slowing down yet thinking fast, the value of every idea, and the joy of observing and celebrating all the characters in your life."
"Josephine let me paint because I couldn't afford classes," fondly remembered David Pasquesi ('82), from "Veep," "Lodge 49" and "At Home With Amy Sedaris." "I found something in improvisation that I had not been exposed to before... and I really liked it. I still like it for the same reason: It's an adventure."