Rapid Fire Theatre Workshop Academy
Ben was a core teacher in the Rapid Fire Workshop Academy from 2012-2017. During this time he taught hundreds of students the principles of improvisation, from beginners all the way to advanced longform ensemble classes. Ben was involved in the development and refinement of the academy's learner outcomes and teaching curricula, creating a dynamic structure to ensure students were getting consistent education in the spontaneous art form. Throughout the 4- or 8-week class sessions Ben was responsible for creating unique lesson plans, giving students individualized notes and feedback, as well as preparing them for the culminating graduation performance.
"Ben is a passionate instructor with high expectations for both himself and his students. He pushes his students to excel, no matter the class focus. Ben is always looking for ways to innovate how (and sometimes where) his lessons are delivered."
Artistic Director, Rapid Fire Theatre
Based on the research and development work Folk Lordz had done around Indigenous oral tradition, Ben and Todd Houseman created the Oral Tradition & Improvisation workshop. An exploration of how traditional storytelling could be used both as a style and a tool in improv, using narratives of geography and stories that come from the land, origin stories, trickster narratives and many other styles that are unique to Indigenous oral tradition. Additionally, the class served as a cultural exchange opportunity for participants. This workshop has been taught in Edmonton, Austin, Toronto, Vancouver, and was expanded into the multi-day Decolonization Through Improvisation workshop, which was done as a residency at St. George's School in Vancouver.
"Ben and Todd offered a phenomenal workshop in my class, that personalized the curriculum and allowed for candid and non-judgemental dialogue amongst the students. Their passion for the subject matter and genuine approach with the students made for a deeply impactful and fun day. I would have them back in a heartbeat."
Teacher at St. George's School
A fusion of physical theatre, improvisation, contemporary dance compositional techniques, and site-specific performance, Ben created this course/workshop as a counterpoint to the narrative and comedic style of improvisation dominating North American improv schools. The students develop their individual physicality, learn techniques for injecting heightened abstraction into realistic theatrical choices, and grow as an moving ensemble. Originally co-presented by Mile Zero Dance and Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton, this course has since been taught in Atlanta, Montreal, Detroit, Slovenia, and Vancouver. As well, Ben adapted this class into an accessible series with Rising Sun Theatre, an integrated group for people of mixed abilities.
"Ben’s level of mastery of improvisational theatre is uncanny. His insights and teaching style captivate classes and leave students changed and inspired. Do not miss this."
Director of Vancouver International Improv Festival & Improv Camp
Ben has worked on a number of different performance projects as a dramaturge, helping performers to refine and grow their artistic vision. Whether it is physical dramaturgy (specifying physical choices and drawing the creator's attention to the physical architecture of space and body-geography), dramatic dramaturgy (helping to clarify a playwright's narrative intention, and shaping the arc of individual characters in scenes), or improvisational dramaturgy (defining parameters for performance scores, and developing the audience's understanding of spontaneous composition), Ben has a wealth of experience as the "outside eye" collaborator on performances.
"Ben's keen eye for theatrical improvisation structures and strategies was tremendously helpful for our process of creating a new hybrid improvised dance-theatre form. He offered practical strategies for moving forward with our creation while remaining open to our experimentation."
Dancer, Performer & Creator of When Words Fail