Jonathan MurphyWashington Improv Theater
A veteran improviser and teacher, Jonathan Murphy joined WIT after serving as the executive director of the Providence Improv Guild (P.I.G.). His background as an arts administrator, teaching artist, information technology specialist, and as an improviser help him oversee the growth and quality of WIT's classes program.
As executive director of P.I.G., Jonathan’s strategic thinking and tireless energy helped the organization nearly quadruple its class enrollments over the past two years. As part of his education-first approach for the theater, Jonathan put in place a strong emphasis on customer service, a rigorous teacher selection process, teacher professional development, and a proactive approach to community-building.
In addition to his role leading the P.I.G., Jonathan served as IT Director of the community arts organization AS220. At AS220, he not only used his expertise to fix and optimize the organization’s infrastructure, he worked with management to use technology as a platform for operational efficiency. His work included helping the organization’s development team create an optimized donation database, creating time-saving software integrations, and working with leadership to find and manage physical arts spaces.
A graduate of Reed College in Portland, Ore., Jonathan is also an active performer. He is a member of P.I.G. crowd favorite, Hell’s Lemonade, a three person monoscene, and Pyschotronic, a duo that focuses on pulp fiction narratives. He recently directed an improvised talk show, called the Gary Butner Show, which blends the line between sketch and improv. In his time in Washington, D.C. he was a member of the WIT Harold team Telenovela and a founding member of the indie troupe Sistine Robot.
Photo by Eric Lubrick
Usually bearded. Always tall. If he’s got his forearms lifted like a T-Rex, it means he’s passionate about whatever subject is being discussed. In the case of improv, that happens a lot.
Jonathan firmly believes in an affirmative classroom environment. He’s witnessed more growth from students when common issues are normalized and not something to dwell on. He loves seeing students discover that their comedic voice comes from openness and honesty, on or off the stage.
He’s big on the fundamentals, especially in class or rehearsals. Making core skills part of the subconscious helps improvisers let loose on stage so they can follow the fun no matter where it goes.
Jonathan completed the WIT curriculum in 2011. From 2012 to 2015, Jonathan was the lead teacher and in charge of curriculum development at the Providence Improv Guild. As Education Director he’s re-built the WIT curriculum twice. He’s always on the lookout for new ways to unlock students’ potential and loves sharing the craft of teaching with others.
He has a knack for figuring out formats, whether playing in them or directing them. But he believes that you obsesses about the structure at first so you can forget about it once the show is live in front of an audience.
“It was such a fun 8 weeks it flew by. I can’t express how great Jon is as a teacher… I’m in disbelief about how much we managed to learn in 2 months. WE MADE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL TOGETHER!!”
“I am now performing on weekly on stage with amazing improvisers because of Jon. He literally taught me everything I know about improv.”
Photo by Melissa Bowler
In 2011, Jonathan thought he was just 'doing improv for fun'. Someone pointed out he was in four groups, doing it six nights a week, and obsessively talking about every show he saw. In that moment he realized he was all in for the rest of his life.
Jonathan completed the WIT curriculum in 2011 and has been doing improv non-stop ever since. He’s done the trek to NYC for classes at UCB and takes any workshop available that fits into his schedule. There was a brief 6 month period where he wasn’t performing weekly and it almost killed him. There’s a fine line between passion and neurosis and he walks it like a cliche.
He performs with Dan Miller and Lura Barber as part of Beverly Crusher, which was the FIST X champion in 2016. Currently he performs with indie troupe Sistine Robot and WIT project, The Interview. From 2018 to 2019 he was grateful to be a part of special projects, You Are Afraid of the Dark, The 4th Estate and his dream show, sci-fi epic, Starship Odyssey.
Photo by Jeff Salamore