As part of the previously announced series of interviews with speakers for the upcoming Chicago Applied Improv Conference, I interviewed Charna Halpern of the Improv Olympics theater. Unfortunately, within weeks of our interview, Charna found she had a schedule conflict and had to cancel as a preconference speaker. However, I’ve decided to still post the interview as the content is just as interesting and relevant, and I’m sure many of you will enjoy it. I apologize in advance for some of the audio levels.
For those of you unfamiliar with Charna, here is her Wikipedia entry:
Charna Halpern was born and raised on the North Side of Chicago. She is a co-founder of the ImprovOlympic, now known as The iO. The theater has locations in Chicago, Los Angeles, and (the now defunct iO South) in North Carolina. In 1981 iO Chicago opened and then in 1984 with partner Del Close she began teaching The Harold to many students in the Chicago theatre community. She and Close co-authored the book Truth in Comedy:The Manual of Improvisation with editor Kim “Howard” Johnson in 1994. In 1996 the iO Celebrated it’s 15th Anniversary at the Vic Theater. iO West Opened in 1997 and is now under the direction of James Grace. Close passed away in 1999 and had Halpern bequeath his skull to the Goodman Theater. 2005 saw the iO 25th anniversary at The Chicago Theater. She also penned Art by Committee in that year and later in 2006 it was revealed that the skull purchased on line due to a Mortician’s refusal to remove Close’s head. Halpern studied acting and worked in radio before propelling long form and improvisational theater forward, making it in to the art form it is recognized as today. Variety Magazine called her one of the top ten women to watch in entertainment. Mike Myers named her the Uta Hagen of Comedy.
Enjoy the show, and look for an interview with the amazing ‘Thiagi‘ within the week! (I’ve already interviewed Thiagi, which was one of the best conversations I’ve had in a while, I just need to find time for some editing.)