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The Improv Time Machine! Acting Through the Dramatic History of Theatre Arts

Gordon Woolvett, ACTRA / UBCP / WGC
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Learn & perform 3000 years of drama & theatre immersively across time and culture as we become gladiators, Kathakali dancers, Commedia Del Arte improvisers and more! With improv we'll practice a myriad of enriching performance styles.

Class experience

Beginner - Advanced Level
12 lessons//12 Weeks
 Week 1
Lesson 1
Building the Time Machine
Intro to improv for new learners, refresh for advanced and returning learners. We will use improv throughout the course.
 Week 2
Lesson 2
The Renaissance 1400-1600 CE
Commedia Del Arté, Shakespeare
 Week 3
Lesson 3
The Middle Ages 400-1400 CE
the 3 M's of the Middle Ages: Morality, Mystery & Miracles (plus a secret 4th M!)
 Week 4
Lesson 4
Ancient Asia 1 BCE
Sanskrit (and later Khathakali)
 Week 5
Lesson 5
Ancient Greece and Rome 500 BCE
Tragedy and Comedy / Gladiators and the Flavian Amphitheatre (the Colosseum)
 Week 6
Lesson 6
Prehistory 1000-30,000 BCE!!
Indigenous nations around the world and the oldest story known to humankind
 Week 7
Lesson 7
Back to Japan while the Renaissance is beginning in Europe 1400 CE
Traditional Noh Theatre; Zen and its influence on art
 Week 8
Lesson 8
Melodrama: From France to America 1830 CE
Meoldrama poses! Spectacles! Music! The seed for future blockbuster movies is planted
 Week 9
Lesson 9
Birth of the Movies 1890
Hollywood & Bollywood
 Week 10
Lesson 10
Modern Movies - 1980's
Genres, the brat pack, methods of modern acting
 Week 11
Lesson 11
Today - The Storyboard
They create their own story and build a rough outline, encouraging them to use elements from our journey.
 Week 12
Lesson 12
The Final Performance
We improvise dialogue and perform their story!
  • 1) For new performers, the basics of improv: collaboration, association, acceptance and exploring details 2) For experienced improvisers: scene elements, story & plot For all: 3) A deeper understanding of the complex relationship between society and theatre and the effects they have on each other 4) The importance of theatre within any given society. 5) General knowledge and understanding of the various cultural and traditional styles of theatre we will visit. But mostly: I aim to spark within your learner both a desire to learn more about theatre arts and a respect for the way different cultures use theatre for different purposes.
I want to acknowledge that as Canadian of Scottish descent, I have no right to speak on behalf of other cultures around the world nor claim to speak from experience of diversity. I am sensitive to this.  My lifelong experience and training is in theatre arts and performance, and it is from that place I find my voice and focus. I aim only to share the respect and awe I have come to know from learning about theatre around the world throughout history.

I first enrolled in theatre school when I was 8. I then began a professional film and television career when I was 12. That was over 35 years ago. 

I continued to train for eight years in acting, improv, musical theatre, scene study and performance. And then my career took off and I could only keep up with training periodically. I was a lead actor in 5 different TV series and did too many movies to list. I always continued to return to training along the way, with various teachers and coaches, expanding to include techniques and styles of Chekov, Meisner, Strasberg, Method acting, and yet more improv. I still train now, with peers, when time allows.

I was fortunate enough to achieve minor celebrity status for a time (people often recognize me from the Bride of Chucky or Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda). I have been lucky to work alongside many bigger names and some great actors; Jennifer Tilly, John Ritter, Kevin Sorbo, Louis Gossett Jr, Katheryn Heigl, James Woods, Rhea Perlman, Michael Moore, Michael Ironside, Alan Arkin, David Carradine and Eugene Levy, just to name a few.  For the Canadian Geminis (what used to be Canada's answer to the Oscars or Emmies and are now called the Canadian screen Awards), I was nominated twice and won once (2002). 

I love teaching about theatre, movies, acting, writing & improv on Outschool. I have been doing so here for over two years now. A few parents asked me to offer a more comprehensive drama program for their learner's education... and so here it is!  

I hope to introduce your learner to the thrilling world of drama!
Homework Offered
Assessments Offered
At the beginning of each lesson, the class is given an oral test of the previous week and marked as a group.
Grades Offered
It must be said that a discussion of historical theatre cannot be had without touching on religion and politics.  Religion and the state had a heavy hand in both the creation and suppression of theatre across many cultures. I try to keep this to a minimum while maintaining historical accuracy and I make every effort to provide a balanced perspective in a positive manner that above all else is inclusive of everyone's ideas and beliefs. 

Also, as we explore the world, learners may be presented with the task of acting as characters who have different beliefs and ideals other than their own. I strive to ensure all learners are comfortable and they will be more than welcome to decline these moments if they arise. When this happens I keep it light by giving them an active spectator or director role instead, calling for lots of applause, laughter or hearty enthusiasm appropriate to the crowd of that era. 
Drama Teacher Academy - PD certificate - Approaching Drama Class with an Indigenous Perspective
Drama Teacher Academy - PD certificate - Teaching Theatre with Divergent Students and Class Sizes in Mind
Drama Teacher Academy - East Meets West Theatre Traditions (Noh, Kabuki, Sanskrit)
Britannica.com - general fact checking
Drama Notebook.com - Native American Integrated Arts; Pantomime; Asian Theatre History; African American History Month Drama Activities; 
The Royal National Theatre of London - Commedia Del'Arte
Joined April, 2020
Hello and thank you for reading my profile :) I'm a fun and energetic acting teacher; an improv performer; a professional working TV & film actor; a screenwriter; a director; a soccer coach and a father of three. 

When I’m not teaching I perform... 
Group Class


weekly or $245 for 12 classes
1x per week, 12 weeks
55 min

Completed by 11 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 10-15
3-6 learners per class

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