Would you take a class from this man?

Improvisation  Workshops 

        Now Forming

Dennis  Kern is the Co-founder and Director of the Ark Improvisational  Theatre and has been working in Improv for the past 30 years.  He introduced the late Chris Farley and Joan  Cusack to improvision.  

The workshops will be held at the Neighborhood House Community Center at 29 South Mills St. on Monday nights from 6:00- 7:30 p.m..  

 The first Session is Sept 1, but you are welcomed to drop into any session on any Monday night. Your first session is on a "trial" basis and you may decide to pay for the session and continue on if the work meets your expectations. 

The workshops will  run for 1 hr and 30 minutes. In the first hour we will work on basic improv skills.  At 7:00 p.m. company members of Ark Improvisational Theatre will join the workshop to  demonstrate various tools, forms, and games.

                        Below is the info contained in the Brochure for the Workshop Series


Dennis Kern is now accepting students for a on-going  workshop for those interested in improvisation as means for developing
performance skills for acting, public performance, or plain old personal development.

The Workshop will be at The Neighborhood House Community Center, 29 South Mills Street at 6:00 P.M.  on Monday nights..

The fee for each session si $15 due at the end of the each session.  You may attend the first session to decide if the work being done is worth the 15 bucks or not.

Dennis has been working in the theatre as actor/producer/teacher for over 30 years.  He was even in New York for six years where he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, formed his own theatre company, and did the starving artist thing. He co-founded the ARK REPERTORY THEATRE in Madison in 1981. The Ark originally performed Improv Theatre at the Dragonwood Pub for one year before moving to the Club De Wash in the Washington Hotel (Now burned down) where the ARK performed every Tuesday night for four years.The ARK moved into its own space at 220 North Basset Street (Now a Laundromat) in 1984 where they did improv, original, and scripted material for five years. After this he taught at The Second City Training Center and, later, at his home - a school house on Milwaukee Street (Now  a craft-gift shop). .As you notice from the replacement operations listed in the parenthesis above, doing theatre in a location for any length of time is less financially rewarding than just about anything including Laundromat and gift shops.


He taught JOAN CUSACK while she was at THE ARK and at least she seems to be doing pretty well. CRIS FARLEY - he began at The ARK and we all miss him. What about BONNIE HUNT? She performed at the ARK in a spin off Company that was formed after the original ARK troupe moved to Chicago. At least four or five of the ARK Alumni have worked or still work at Second City but you probably don't know them. BRIAN STACK - EVAN GORE - JEFF KAHN - HOLLY WORTEL - AND WHAT ABOUT REGGIE JACKSON (just kidding about Reg).  Check the back panel for ACTUAL QUOTES FROM ARK ALUMNI.


The Workshop
The work we will be doing is best described in the words of Viola Spolin - The Mother Of Improv.

"Everyone can act. Everyone can improvise. Anyone who wishes to can play in the theatre and learn to become ‘stage worthy'".

"...we must reconsider what is meant by "talent".it is highly possible that what is called talented behavior is feeling personal freedom.   Before we can play (experience) we must be free to do so. It is necessary to become part of the world around us and make it real by touching it, seeing it, feeling it, tasting it, and smelling it - direct contact to the environment is what we seek."

"The class was the greatest thing that ever happened to me"-Liz

"Dennis was a great teacher!" - Betty

"ARK's great freedom of expression, and the habit  of it, helped me a lot to do Saturday Night Live.  Dennis is such a great, uncompromising person.  I felt such freedom there." -Joan Cusack, The Captial Times, Friday, September 18,1987.

"ARK is doing a better, more sincere form of improvisation"- Jeff Kahn, in reference to Second City The Capital Times,Friday, September 18.1987

"I wouldn't be in Second City if not for ARK and now, Second City is learning from ARK as well.  They know it's producing some good people.
It's one of the groups that they watch for.  If someone's from ARK, they know they have good training.  I hope Madison appreciates what its got" -Holly Wortel of Second City, The Capital Times,Friday,September 18,1987.

"ARK is great for Madison. Everyone who's in that group is so creative together.  Dennis is,by far, as smart or smarter than directors I've met in Hollywood" Joan Cusack, The Capital Times, Friday September 18, 1987
"I was learning a great deal at ARK. Dennis Kern is a brilliant teacher."- Evan Gore, founder of Chicago's Improv Institute, Capital Times, 1986

"I was only 5'6" when I took Dennis' class - now I'm quite tall"- Micheal Jordon

        Join Now
    Phone (608) 249-4448


You are invited to come to our shows at the Liquid Lyric any Friday night at 8:00 p.m. to see the company's work.

If you have any concerns , questions, or comments  please e-mail us  at: arkimprov.com

What follows are portions of an article which was written by Phil Davis in the January  1999  edition of "The Isthmus". January 1, 1999


The method  man

Dennis Kern returns to improv...with a therory.

"Succcess in Hollywood is often a matter of luck.  But, as golfer Ben  Hogan liked to say, the more he practiced , the luckier he got.  Which begins to explain how two of Hollywood's brightest young comedic talents of the past decade - Joan Cusack and the late Chris  Farley - got  their start  here, far from the curbs  of Sunset Boulevard. Along with natural physical gifts and good performing instincts, what both actors had in common was an uncommonly thorough training in the art of improvisational Theatre. The Ark provided them with a venue -a comedy laboratory  really- where they could experiment, but it also offered something, perhaps, even more significant: the tutelage of Dennis Kern ."

"...And it's no overstatement to say that, at least in local terms, Kern's return is news. He's our equivalent of a Lee Strasber or Stella Adller - a respected teacher with a "method" to help performers develop their deeper talents by looking inward to reveal themselves."