Bringing twenty-five years of experience as an energetic and effective University instructor and professor, the acting studio, performance laboratory and the collegiate stage all truly serve as a second home…
A Teaching-Artist Who Thrives in the University Classroom
Performance work is informed by a rigorous and intensive study of improvisational and scripted theatre in a multitude of contexts and institutions.
A practitioner who has deeply explored and researched performance, historical and critical lenses and approaches, academic credentials include: a PhD in Theatre History, Criticism and Dramatic Literature from Louisiana State University (with an emphasis in global improvisational movements and trends,) a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Western Illinois University (Irene Ryan nominee and regional finalist,) a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Theatre and English from Roosevelt University, and a graduate of Chicago’s prestigious Players Workshop of the Second City.
At Louisiana State University, positions of note: a Board of Regents and then Graduate School Dissertation Fellowship holder where work on a thrice repeated large-cast campus-wide improvisational production, Making It Up As We Go Along, was recognized with multiple awards including “Best New Program” (2001) “Excellence in Programming” (2002) and an individual acknowledgement for “Extraordinary Contribution to Union Program Council 2002.”
At Rollins College, positions of note: Producing Director of the Annie Russell Theatre, Chair, and Professor of the Department of Theatre and Dance, and Founding Artistic Director of Rollins Improv Players (recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Student Involvement award.) Other institutional accolades include the “Best Newcomer Award” (2005), an Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship (2008), the Hugh F. McKean Award for “Outstanding Teaching Skills” (2012) and the Cornell Distinguished Faculty Award (2012-2015), in additional to multiple research grants.
Bring these decades of training and teaching experience to your students or organization. Consider, for example, these semester-long improvisational courses that cover a broad array of approaches or areas of specialization in the art of improvisational theatre.
Frequently offered courses:
IMPROV: FUNDAMENTALS OF FREEDOM
Explores the foundational principles of modern improvisation with a particular focus on story-telling, structure, and narrative techniques while also examining the many styles and ways that improv can be used in performance. Sections offered for theatre majors and as a first-year experience course.
IMPROV: LOCALE & PHYSICALITY
Expands the improviser and actor’s tool-belt through the examination of the physical aspects of the performance event, paying particular attention to the nuanced creation of location, incorporation of space objects, and way the performer uses their body to create character and relationship.
Utilizes both script-based and spontaneous approaches and exercises to unlock the core components of an actors’ craft, such as nurturing and developing spontaneity, understanding text, dramatic structure and how to build a character, and honing audition and monologue performance techniques.
IMPROV: CHARACTER, STATUS & EMOTIONS
Examines the improvisational event through the lens of character, exploring a wide range of facets and elements that add depth and nuance to scenic work, such as facets of characterization, status relationships and games, and techniques for building and widening the performer’s emotional storehouse.
Concentrates on the building blocks of musical improvisation, unpacking concepts such as song structure, musicality and melodic variety, verse mirroring and chorus construction, weaving, rhythm and rhyme. Applies these musical improvisational strategies to solos, duets and larger group songs.
Primarily designed as an introductory primer appropriate for novice performers that teaches the foundational principles of modern improvisation through explorations of commonly performed long-form structures such as La Ronde, Family Reunion, Armando Diaz, Lotus, Harold and the Pass-off Scene.
THEATRE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Offers experience with a variety of improvisational strategies and modes that use the tools of theatre to interrogate critical societal issues. Experiments draw inspiration from established practitioners such as Augusto Boal and his Image and Forum Theatre, as well as the techniques of Jonathan Fox’s Playback Theatre.
Develops students’ individual artistic voices through the exploration of various themes and performance strategies pulling from the traditions of realism, performance ethnography, non-traditional dramatic sources (poetry, newspapers, novels, lyrics), and staging practices that critique or oppose authorial intent.
IMPROV SHAKESPEARE DRAMATURGY
A specialty course initially designed to accompany the rehearsal process of The Lost Comedies of William Shakespeare that features close textual analysis of the Shakespearean canon as well as embodied dramaturgical explorations that utilize the poetic, characterization and structural devices contained therein.
An advanced improvisational workshop that studies various antecedents, approaches and techniques for the creation of narrative long-form structures. The process culminates in the exploration, development and ultimately preview performance of one or more student-inspired original pieces.
IMPROV: LANGUAGE & STYLE
Delves into the ways that language, speech patterns and stylistic devices can enrich the improviser’s craft through building vocabulary, exploring the dynamic of expert scenes, tackling scenic frames with language barriers and challenges, and developing rhyme and rhythm skills. Can be offered with a musical improv component.
LEADERSHIP THROUGH LONG-FORM
An intercession course (intensive 24 hours of instruction over 5 days) that explores improvisational techniques used in public domain and original long-form structures and applies these foundational techniques to the site of successful and nuanced leadership, interpersonal communication and ensemble-building.
What the critics (students) are saying…
*Samples of anonymous student comments taken from course evaluation surveys
“Dr. David Charles is one of the reasons why I enjoy being a part of the theater department. His caring and nurturing attitude helps performance shy students like me reach their full potential.”Fall 2008
“Dr. D is an excellent professor and he truly shined as an academic instructor in this course. He simply oozed enthusiasm and excitement. His desire to play and to attack truly inspired myself and the class to follow suit.”Spring 2009
“The instructor is one of the strongest I’ve ever had. He is understanding and respectful, while still being fun loving and motivational. He celebrates mistakes and creates an amazing learning environment.”Spring 2009
“I found this class liberating. fantastic experience for both more improv work and scripted work”Fall 2010
“I feel like the instructor truly values each and every student. Working in this environment is very encouraging, and I feel like I learned to appreciate others because of his attitude towards the group.”Fall 2010
“This may, when it is all said and done, be the most memorable class I have had in my college experience.”Intercession 2011
“Dr. D is, by far, one of the best, most effective teachers I’ve ever had the chance to work with.”Spring 2011
“Dr. D is a superlative instructor. I am so thankful for getting this opportunity to work with him. The classroom environment that he creates is truly unique. I’ve never known an educator who is more consistently effective. I’ve watched his courses turn introverted, guarded students into confident, vulnerable, and bold performers. I think this is in large part due to how supportive his classroom environment is. No matter what level they started at, by the end of the course, Dr. D’s students believe in themselves. And that self-trust brings immense strength of performance and character which students can take with them far beyond the classroom.”Fall 2011
“Dr. D created an excellent environment for working improv, and that is no easy feat. Students have to be able to trust each other onstage, and be more mindful of respecting others beliefs than in most other formats. Dr. D fostered this community astoundingly well.”Spring 2012
“He will be on[e] of those professors that in forty years from now I will be telling my grandchildren about!”Fall 2012
“Very approachable, knowledgeable, extremely interesting as well as entertaining and effective.”Spring 2013
“This course really opened my mind to what improv is and how we use it every single day.”Fall 2013
“Improv goes so far beyond the world of theatre, it taught me so much about critical thinking and leadership.”Fall 2013
“I have been mindblown, the amount that I’ve grown as a person and artist because of this class is massive.”Fall 2014
“Dr. D always brings such a positive attitude to the classroom. He truly enjoys what he is teaching and cares about his students. He makes sure everyone is included and comfortable.”Fall 2015
“Wow, this was excellent across the board. I am SO glad I took this course, even though I REALLY didn’t need any more electives. It made me work so hard, pushing myself to do things that I never thought I could ever do!!!”Fall 2017
“Love improv and love the professor. Coming to class was fun and is the highlight of my week.”Spring 2018
“This course is very therapeutic and David gives us the freedom to express ourselves without any judgement. He makes us feel like a family.”Fall 2018
“I love this class so much. It has truly changed my life and the perspective I have on Improv. Coming into the class I was terrified about being on the stage and just last week I auditioned for the Improv team on campus. I have learned so much in this semester and I am truly sad it is going to end soon.”Spring 2019