Mark Chalfant - Washington, DC
Mark Chalfant is artistic and executive director of Washington Improv Theater (WIT), DC’s premier spontaneous theater company. He originally hails from Laurel, MD, a Washington suburb. While studying journalism, English literature and foreign languages at the University of Arizona, Mark had no knowledge of improv, nor any idea that it would change his life. Never doubt the power of a flyer posted in a coffee-shop to do just that.
Mark is passionately dedicated to sharing the creative power of improvisation with everyone in Washington. After helping re-found WIT in 1997, Mark helped guide much of the organization’s early evolution. He filled various roles as WIT added ensembles, grew its training program, initiated community outreach programming, and restructured its board. In 2004 Mark became the company’s first full-time artistic director; he has continued to strengthen and broaden the theater’s activities since. He helped create WIT's training program, and has taught every level in the company's regular curriculum as well as workshops at national and local improv festivals.
Mark has performed with WIT’s onesixtyone (formerly Mainstage, formerly WIT) for nearly 10 years, and has directed numerous projects under WIT’s banner. Directing highlights include The Interview; WIT’s first musical endeavor Tonic - the improvised musical cure for what ails you; Staged, an improvised staged reading performed at the Kennedy Center, and onesixtyone’s signature show Big Bang. He is proud to be the founding director of Jackie, WIT’s second company ensemble. Performance highlights include onesixtyone’s various shows and film work with WIT’s Neutrino Video Project and WITfilms’ 48-hour Film Project entries. Mark was also co-creator and performer in SHAME and Misfit Toys, two-person shows exploring the darker side of the holidays and the gay experience, not respectively.
Mark’s improv training has included classes and workshops with theaters nationwide: Upright Citizens Brigade, ImprovOlympic, Second City, BATS in San Francisco, and the Scrapheap project at the Brody Theater in Portland, OR. He has drawn great inspiration from his work with former Burn Manhattan members Jay Rhoderick, Todd Stashwick, and Kevin Scott; Shira Piven; Keith Johnstone, Martin De Maat, and Barbara Scott of BATS. Mark has trained with various DC theater companies (Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre, Theatre Lab) and with Philadelphia’s Pig Iron Theatre Company.
Imagination and vulnerable, honest exchange are at the heart of the best theater—scripted or improvised. Mark’s greatest thrill is sharing the craft of improvisation with a city known at times for extreme deficits in these qualities. The opportunity to empower the talented players and students who make up WIT’s core community is a gift he cherishes.