Artistic and Executive DirectorWashington Improv Theater
Mark has been playing gleefully with WIT since helping re-found the company in 1997.
Mark has performed and directed over 20 ensemble projects with WIT over his 15-year engagement with the company. Mark has played in WIT Mainstage, onesixtyone, POTUS Among Us, Lore, multiple renditions of Seasonal Disorder, Die!Die!Die!, and the Neutrino Video Project; and duoprov shows SHAME, Misfit Toys, and We Should Talk, among others. He is a founding member of iMusical and has performed in every iMusical show, including iSchool Musical, iToonsical, iConfess, and Missed Connections. He has directed ensembles onesixtyone, Jackie, JINX, and King Bee and projects such as Tonic: The Musical Cure for What Ails You, the storytelling Fringe spectacle Lore, and two iterations of POTUS Among Us.
His theater and improv education has included training at Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, Second City, Improv Olympic (now iO), the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and Bay Area Theatresports. Mark is grateful for the influence of the many teachers he has studied with, including Catherine Weidner, Martin de Maat, Keith Johnstone, Jay Rhoderick, Asaf Ronen, Amy Poehler, Barbara Scott and J. Raoul Brody.
Mark Chalfant has taught and contributed to the creation of every level in the company's curriculum.
Sharing a student’s discovery in improv is one of Mark’s greatest joys, which is why he has been a lead instructor in WIT’s training program since 1999. Emotional honesty and storytelling sensibility are his main jams. Mark’s teaching is informed by his experience coaching and directing dozens of WIT ensemble projects, and facilitating training sessions for WIT@Work. Mark’s own studies in improv nationwide (in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland) and has pursued theater training all over DC (Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre Lab). Among those with whom Mark has studied are: Keith Johnstone, Barbara Scott and J. Raoul Brody, Matt Besser, Charna Halpern, Mick Napier, Jay Rhoderick, Shira Piven, Rebecca Drysdale.
“Mark’s ability to tailor coaching to a performance and a player is stunning; you know he’s been there, he’s made the same choices you did and is coaching from experience.”
“Mark was very attentive, provided constructive criticsim and was very supportive. I always left class feeling like I had learned something, whether through constructive decisions or through screw-ups. Mark’s note-taking and attentiveness were great.”
“Out of every acting class I have ever taken I think I learned the most from Mark.”
Mark Chalfant has spearheaded WIT's growth since 1999.
After helping re-energize and rebuild WIT as an all-volunteer ensemble-led collective, Mark stepped in to become the company’s first full-time staff member in 2004. Since then, he has led the organization to realize tremendous growth in WIT’s programming breadth, in the community of players, teachers, patrons and students, and in staff. He feels extremely fortunate to work with a team of wonderful people promoting an art form and ideas he’s passionate about. Mark is a member of Leadership Greater Washington’s Class of 2017.
Tests have confirmed that Mark is results-oriented with strengths in strategic thinking, ideation, and fixing things that are broken. He is proud to steward WIT for the benefit of the entire DC improviser community and is always happy to talk shop. Mark has a sometimes compulsive need for transparency.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
In a previous life as a pencil-pushing cog in the wheel of an international organization, Mark saw his fair share of useless training sessions. That's why he's passionate about making WIT@Work sessions vital.
DC is well known for its high quotient of smarty-pants residents and Mark loves how this becomes apparent in organizational training workshops. Mark’s jaw frequently drops in astonishment at the creative choices people can make and expand upon through improv. Allowing coworkers to see one another with fresh eyes is incredibly rewarding not only in a teamworky, work-product kind of way, but in a human way.
A romantic with deeply skeptical tendencies, Mark enjoys helping clients hash out the practical applications of improv ideas. It’s exciting and rewarding to see people find new ways to interact.
Mark is deeply indebted to every member who has served on WIT's Board, past and present.
In sixth grade when the teacher left the room, Mark convinced his classmates to tie their shoelaces together in one big circle. The teacher returned just as the group was falling over in hysterics. No one narced.
In high school as the editor of the student newspaper, Mark published an April Fool’s issue with doctored photos showing the calculus teacher posing in Playboy, and the principal emerging from a pornography store. Mark talked the principal back from his threats to suspend him and close down the paper, and the year-end issue was the largest in the school’s history.
Mark is a proud member of Leadership Greater Washington’s Class of 2017.
Mark likes subverting authority. He enjoys mocking people in powerful positions. Yet WIT’s board of directors tolerates him anyway, and in fact they get along rather well. As artistic executive director, Mark is an ex officio member of the Board.
“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”