Passionately and successfully directing works in both the scripted and improvisational traditions (and in the delightful grey areas between these two edges of the artistic spectrum), the tools of spontaneity know no boundaries…

A Creative Collaborator Unafraid to Take Risks

Whether working with community members taking their first theatrical steps, college students committed to honing their craft, or a seasoned company of tried and tested professionals, audiences and critics alike have stood up and taken notice. Directorial experience includes over thirty collegiate and professional productions, although this number only tells half the story. In the improvisational realm, many of these successful productions have been remounted or sustained for multiple years, seasons or runs:

ImprOvientation designed for Rollins College Explorations has been renewed and restaged for 16 years (while Cut To…, Variations on a Theme and RIP Tag have each remained in Rollins Improv Players repertory for in excess of a decade with new companies training into the forms each year.)

Gorilla Theatre at SAK Comedy Lab recently celebrated its tenth year, making it the second longest running show in the company’s history (the Duel of Fools, the theatre’s signature form, tops the leader board.)

“The entire cast is [an] incredibly talented group of entertainers and have never disappointed. Fantastic cast, and a marvelous show, don’t miss out!”

Elaine Godfrey, Online Gorilla Theatre Review, 2019

(Your) Opera in a Trunk, a commissioned outreach touring show for Pensacola Opera, enjoyed seven unique seasons with an ever-changing array of extremely talented opera artists-in-residence often taking their first foray into the world of improvisational theatre.

Other improvisational products have crossed into multiple venues and stages, such as Is This Seat Taken? — winner of the 2010 Orlando International Fringe Audience Choice Award for “Best Improv Show” — which played for a limited run at SAK Comedy Lab and at various regional improv festivals. FourPlay: The Improvised Musical, experienced two raucous and successful seasons at SAK Comedy Lab, and then returned for a third iteration at Winter Park Playhouse, the first time this well-established Equity house offered an improvisational show as part of their regular season.

Similarly, original improvisational works such as Upton Abbey: An Improvised Comedy of English Manners, The Lost Comedies of William Shakespeare and Murder We Wrote: An Improvised Whodunit, became a regular feature at the Annie Russell Theatre, a venue formerly exclusively committed to scripted works in their mainstage season. These world premieres rivaled the attendance and revenue numbers of companion musical and scripted pieces, and successfully demonstrate the untapped potential of bringing traditional audiences and well-crafted improvisational play together in new and exciting ways.

In the scripted realm, experience includes directing plays such as Playhouse Creatures, Twelfth Night, Doubt, Anna in the Tropics, Machinal, Expecting Isabel and john proctor is the villain (a world premiere.) Many of these collegiate works have received strong praise from critics who have recognized them with honors typically reserved for professional houses in the region. Machinal was celebrated by Matthew Palm of the Orlando Sentinel as one of the top ten outstanding [professional] productions of the year, and bestowed upon the production an Editors’ Choice Award for “Outstanding Play” and “Outstanding Performance” for Rachel Comeau as the Woman. john proctor is the villain received director and three actor nominations in the category of best drama in the 2019 Orlando Sentinel annual honors, with the show ultimately receiving a Critic’s Pick nod as one of the best twelve [professional] productions of the season.

Click HERE to learn more about the highly collaborative design process for Machinal or HERE to read about the honors bestowed on john proctor is the villain.

What the critics are saying…

“David Charles, the plucky New Zealander who wowed Fringe audiences with his direction of the long-form improv E Pluribus Unum a few months back, serves as creator/director and takes the lead, establishing the format of the improvised musical…”

Charles Martin, East Orlando Sun, FourPlay Review, 2005

“David Charles, the Rollins College theatre professor who moonlights as one of Sak’s resident jesters, has come up with a swell concept for the troupe’s new show. What’s more, Charles and his cohorts have the wit (and, even more important, the training) to make it work.”

Elizabeth Maupin, Orlando Sentinel, 2006

“Charles and his rotating cast of players aren’t simply peppering their speech with gratuitous “ere”s and “anon”s; they’re performing an iambic improv high-wire act. Much of the magic is in the comically labored tying together of the random threads thrown out by the audience, which belies a masterful grasp of Shakespearean convention and construction.”

Seth Kubersky, Orlando Weekly, 2006

“After an opening in which the audience chose their setting, music and a few key props, Hopkins and Charles dive into their characters. In the case of Saturday’s show, it was a pair of neurotics waiting for their psychiatrist, and the results were not only consistently hilarious but surprisingly nuanced.”

Tod Caviness, Orlando Sentinel, Is this Seat Taken, 2010

“Annie Russell Theatre: Sophie Treadwell’s grim and disturbing play about a disaffected woman was given a brilliantly theatrical treatment as makeup, costumes, lighting and scenic design combined to create an off-kilter world in director David Charles’ production.”

Matthew Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 2015

“If you are intrigued by intelligent, thought-provoking theatre, you do not want to miss Rollins College’s production of MACHINAL.”

Matt Tamanini,, 2015

“EXPECTING ISABEL is a theatrical experience that you don’t want to miss. When you see a show this unique, and performances this special, “You just know.””

Matt Tamanini,, 2016

“Onstage at Rollins College’s Annie Russell Theatre, director David Charles makes what could be a downer of an evening into a heartfelt one. And, it must be said, a very funny one. His lead actors, Rachel Comeau and Nicholas D’Alessandro, are engaging and empathetic — and equally important, understand comic timing. They go a long way in humanizing Loomer’s play, in which the issue of infertility is really the star.”

Matthew Palm, Orlando Sentinel, 2016

“Improv theater is tricky to master – it requires the actor to be on their toes and ready for anything and everything. It also takes a kind of openness to not control a scene and have an open mind about the possibilities of what the moment could turn into (the “yes, and?” that many improv actors refer to). Many actors won’t even touch improv because of these things, and yet the outstanding thespian students at Rollins College have met the challenge head on and do it well.”

Libby Champion,, Upton Abbey, 2016

“UPTON ABBEY: AN IMPROVISED COMEDY OF ENGLISH MANORS had the audience laughing and crying in their seats and it is surely one of the best shows I’ve ever seen from the Annie Russell Theatre.”

Libby Champion,, Upton Abbey, 2016

“Blazing across the Annie Russell Theatre stage in February, the exhilarating “John Proctor Is the Villain” proved to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller expertly crafted for our times. At every turn, the thoughtful piece shattered assumptions with its surprises.”

Matthew Palm, Orlando Sentinel¸ 2019

Director David Charles has guided some of the best college acting in recent memory, I wrote about “John Proctor Is the Villain” at the Annie Russell Theatre. A director always shapes performances, but in a college educational setting, Charles’ work was even more crucial. In a tricky play, Charles deftly balanced comedy and tragedy, satisfying the audience on every count.”

Matthew Palm, Orlando Sentinel¸ 2019