Instructor Bios

Bill Binder

bill@thetorchtheatre.com

Bill began performing in Michigan in 1994 where he performed for six years. During this time he served as a company player with The Troupe before moving to Phoenix, AZ in 2000. In Phoenix, Bill helped organize the first Phoenix Improv Festival in 2002, spent two years completing training at the iO West Training Center in Los Angeles, served three years as the youth improv trainer for the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company and was one of the founding members of The Torch Theatre in 2007.
Bill has taught improv in Arizona at The Torch Theatre, National Comedy Theatre Phoenix, Unscrewed Comedy, Tucson Improv Movement, AZ Jewish Theatre and Mesa Arts Center. He has taught workshops at Improv Utopia and in Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Cedar City, Maui, La Crosse, Tampa, Orlando, Vancouver, Baltimore, San Jose, Providence, Hartford, Seattle, Portland, Dusseldorf, Köln, Paris, Gothenburg and Cape Town.
In 2013, Bill launched the National Improv Network and the festival submission tool which allowed improv troupes to build online resumes for submission to festivals nationwide. In 2015, he built the Teacher booking tool on the same site. Bill and the other instructors of The Torch Theatre were nominated for the Big Brain Awards in 2012. In 2014 he received the Coachella Valley Improv Award for Contributions to Improv.
Currently, Bill performs with Apollo 12, Galapagos and The Foundation, is an instructor at The Torch Theatre and producer for the Phoenix Improv Festival.


Jacque Arend

jacque@thetorchtheatre.com

Jacque started improvising in 2005. Her first dose of education came from IO Chicago’s summer intensive. She co-founded The Torch Theatre (Phoenix, Arizona) in 2007 and teaches Ensemble Performance, Advanced Formats, as well as various workshop focuses including Deconstruction. Jacque is the lead instructor for The Torch Theatre’s Corporate Team Building program and administers the training center. She also instructs the improv/comedy programs for actors at Arizona Actors Academy and is the registration coordinator for Camp Improv Utopia. Jacque is a regular performer with a handful of ongoing troupes, such as Mail Order Bride, JaxN Reed, Birds & Broads and MuChuChu. Jacque has played on main stage of the Phoenix Improv Festival for the last eleven years. Recently she has performed at the 2016 District Improv Festival, 2017 San Diego Improv Festival and the 2017 Del Close Marathon. She has brought her workshops to the District Improv Festival and Camp Improv Utopia East.


Javier Gilmore

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Javier is a married father of four daughters living in Phoenix, AZ, where he also plays at being a stay at home parent. Saved by the amazing power of improv in 2008, Javier has been performing and teaching since then. Currently, he teaches at The Torch Theatre and ImprovMANIA and believes that bringing new people into improv is THE BEST JOB EVER!


Jose Gonzalez

jose@thetorchtheatre.com

Jose helped co-found The Torch Theatre in 2007, where he teaches & performs, and has helped co-produce the Phoenix Improv Festival since 2002. He got his start in acting, performance, & movement under bree valle at Oceanquest Studios. Jose’s been studying improv since October 2001 and believes in always learning & growing by workshopping with an array of awesome teachers like Joe Bill (Annoyance Theater, Bassprov, iO Chicago), Craig Cackowski (iO Chicago/West, Second City, NBC’s Community), and Susan Messing (Annoyance Theater, Second City, iO). As a performer & teacher, Jose has traveled with Galapagos, Dangerville, Umlautilde, Mariachi Kittens, The Foundation, and other projects all over North America and soon overseas. He’s improvised in everything from a nearly-solo musical with a pie to all-star festival shows that were way too big but a lot of fun.

(Illustration by Woody Fu of peroxidecomics.com)


Mack Duncan

mack@thetorchtheatre.com

Mack has been an active performing artist in Phoenix since 1999, and has been a professional educator since 2001. He has a degree in Directing from Arizona State University. At ASU he wrote and performed with The Farce Side and Barren Mind improv. He was a member of the Phoenix ComedySportz team from 99-2002, directing the troupe from 01-02. He has directed numerous short films, including Menagerie of Space, and the award winning Big Benevolent Wolf and ALONE.
Duncan is the President and co-founder of CareFree Write Productions, which produces The Phoenix Improv Festival. In 2007, he helped launch The Torch Theatre. He taught High School Theatre Arts from 2003 to 2011 and is currently performing with The Torch Theatre’s Apollo 12 and The Foundation, as well as Mack Duncan: 1-Man Show, Dutchman, and the puppet troupe Die Puppet Die.


Marisol Chavez

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Math enthusiast, bad ass MC. Usually the loudest person in the room.

I have been hooked on improv ever since taking a free drop in class taught by Bill Binder. I am a graduate of The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, and I am always looking to learn and grow.

I currently perform with and adore: Spearmint and Laura Ingalls.


Merrie Greenfield

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Merrie is a human improvisor and hyphenate performer. She lives in Arizona for the time being but most of her worldly possessions live in a storage space in Chicago. Del Close once insulted her during a car ride they shared. She never thought that was something to include in a bio, but here we are.


 

Stacey Hanlon

stacey@thetorchtheatre.com

Stacey Reed Hanlon is originally from Akron, Ohio. Through a series of both calculated and accidental events, she now resides in Phoenix, where she is a founding member of The Torch Theatre (www.thetorchtheatre.com). She began her improvisational career in New York City in 1999, where she studied with The Upright Citizens Brigade, Armando Diaz and Gary Austin. In NYC she co-founded improv troupe Late Night Ritalin, wrote for and appeared in Saturday Night Rewritten, and was a performer in Manhattan Comedy Collective’s Character Dog Run.
She has performed in improv festivals in New York, Austin, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Albuquerque & Phoenix, and can currently be seen performing with improv troupes Light Rail Pirates, Mail Order Bride, JaxN Reed and The Foundation.
She also works with SEEDs for Autism, a local workshop for young adults on the autism spectrum. With SEEDs, she is introducing an improv curriculum that focuses on active listening and responding to social and emotional cues. Stacey has taught for the Valley Youth Theatre since 2006, teaching musical theatre, acting and improvisation classes to students aged 5-18. She also teaches for and serves on the board of Humor Writes, a local non-profit that uses improvisation as a tool to improve creative writing and literacy for students in grades 5-8.