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Improv with The Kentucky School for the Blind

On Friday, January 24th, preeminent Chicago based improv group The Second City achieved a first – teaching Improv to children who are blind or who have low vision at The Kentucky School for the Blind. Through a partnership with Kentucky Performing Art’s ArtsInspire and ArtsAccessibility program, The Second City was able to make a stop at the School for the Blind while in Louisville for a performance in the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center.

Twelve students from Kentucky School for the Blind, freshman through seniors, spent almost 90 action-packed minutes working with Nick Johne and Allison Reese.

Nick Johne, an alumnus of Toronto’s award-winning Second City Main Stage cast, who has been teaching improvisation in various capacities since 1983. He is currently teaching at The Second City Chicago and in the Theater Department of DePaul University where he is adjunct faculty.   

Allison Reese is a Chicago based Comedian/Writer/Actor. She is an alumni of the Bob Curry Fellowship as well as the Severn Darden Graduate Program at Second City. In addition to being an Alumni of Second City's Urban Twist "Totem Pole of Privilege", Allison is also the creator of the critically acclaimed group "Matt Damon Improv". Allison is currently a teacher for the Writing Program at the Second City.

This residency was in improvisation designed specifically for Kentucky School for the Blind students. The event focused on ensemble and team building to help with the exploration of different relationships and social cues. Improvisational games used in this class taught the students skills such as accessing emotions and storytelling.

Improvisation is a great tool to work through many types of barriers which stand in the way of creativity and socialization.

"Our experience with Second City was amazing!  Our students loved exploring the world of improvisation with Nick and Allison!" - Tabathia Roark, Arts and Humanities Director Kentucky School for the Blind



“It was one of the most fulfilling experiences I've had as a teaching artist. Honestly, I was somewhat hesitant coming in to teach the workshop, having never had the opportunity to teach this particular population of individuals. It forced me to adapt a lot of the games and exercises that usually have on hand. I appreciated being given the chance to stretch my teaching muscles very much. It has become clear to me, from this workshop, that teaching improv is highly adaptable and can be used for any group. The principles of collaboration and trusting one's impulses can be taught across a very wide spectrum of groups. With the group from the Kentucky School for the Blind, I only had to make a couple of adaptations in order to teach some rather complex principles behind the work. It made me feel excited to look at my curriculum to see what else I can adjust and for whom.” - Nick Johne, The Second City Chicago


KPA’s ArtsInspire connects Kentucky with Kentucky Performing Arts Presents artists who live locally and around the world through performance, workshops, master classes, community conversations, and collaborative partnerships. These interactive experiences aim to spark inspirational moments of creativity and introspection that leave indelible marks on community members and artists alike. Through ArtsInspire, Kentucky Performing Arts vigorously pursues its non-profit mission providing unparalleled arts events that burst into life throughout the Commonwealth.

KPA’s ArtsAccessibility ensures that people of all ages with disabilities has access to quality arts experiences. In our venues, in our local community, and in the Commonwealth. ArtsAccessibility is committed to providing arts opportunities to schools, adult disability service organizations and other arts and cultural venues that the arts are indeed for everyone.

This VSA program is provided in 2019-2020 under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

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