I'm Janna. I'm a facilitator, coach, writer & performer. My professional background is in theater and progressive education, and I teach for institutions like The Second City, The Innovation Academy at Notre Dame, The Leadership Studio at The University of Chicago's Booth School, The Innovation Institute, and the Experience Institute.
I grew up in the desert where I learned things about listening. I live in Chicago now, where I help others discover the same.
In my teaching and facilitation, I use a unique tool-set of games and interactive activities that nourish and empower people. I am most interested in helping individuals connect with their own inspiration, clarity, and strength, and in helping groups discover the joy of collaborating with genuine warm respect. This, so that good ideas can come across, better ways can be found, and outdated systems can be improved.
I use tools from the creative arts:
Applied Improvisation games designed nearly a century ago by a social scientist, to unite and revitalize a divided and tired population after The Great Depression
Live Storytelling exercises and events that help individuals and organizations hone in on the vital truths they want to tell, and unite on common ground
Performance training and collaboration techniques used by professional writers, performers, co-creators, and comedians
Training with me is playful, joyful, interactive, and reflective. People make discoveries through play, followed by insightful discussion. I don't use slideshows or Powerpoint. We learn things through dynamic, interactive games that are well supported and intentionally designed for discovery.
More About the Tools
The Applied Improvisation tools I use are best known through American comedy. Shows like Saturday Night Live, Whose Line is it Anyway, The Office, The Daily Show and many others were built using them. But the tools were created nearly 100 years ago by a social scientist hired by the WPA to unite and heal a fractured citizenry at the end of the Great Depression, so people could rebuild American cities. These games are strategically designed to help people recover from trauma, regain access to creative inspiration, and collaborate beautifully. Laughter is a common result, which is why they're also used in comedy.
I'm a professional storyteller, and I curate and produce a large, beloved Storytelling show called Here, Chicago. I've hosted nearly 100 sold-out live shows over 10 years, featuring over 1,000 Chicagoans sharing true stories from their lives. I co-founded the Live Storytelling programs at The Second City and Chicago Dramatists, and I help people in various places bring Live Storytelling events into their communities. Live story-sharing is a vital human art form that belongs to everyone, but has been somewhat lost to the digital age. Helping people get it back creates joy, unity, and power, and lets divided constituencies recognize common ground.
My own performance training includes work with founding members of The Performance Group, LaMama ETC, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, Leeny Sack, Anna Halprin, Sherri Carlson, Eve Ensler, Bay Area TheatreSports, The Second City, and iO. I've greatly benefitted from the tools that help performers to feel at-home in our bodies, confident, expressive and free. And I believe these tools should belong to everyone. After teaching Acting and Performance in professional theaters for over 18 years, I still teach with The Second Training Center, and I also find great joy in working with "non-performers". It's a wonderful thing to watch people come to feel happy and confident in their self-expression.
If you'd like to connect, just submit your information through the Contact Form on the Home Page, and I will reply within 48 hours. I look forward to speaking with you! :)