Meet The Team

Jason Perez (He/Him)

Artistic Director / Co-founder

Jason is originally from outside of Los Angeles (Upland to be more specific) where he started doing improv 16 years ago.  He would later go on to train, perform, and/or teach with such companies as Second City, Upright Citizens Brigade, National Comedy Theater, Comedy Sportz, Improv Olympic, and the Peoples Improv Theater.  He has also taught improv at numerous high schools, universities, and festivals both back in the states and internationally.  Currently, Jason is teaching improv with The Tron Theatre as well as running and performing in shows around Scotland like the KinkyFish Improv Jam and Glasgow Harold Night with the house team Couch. He is also the Co-Director of the Arts Not For Profit, Blank Script Ltd.

Jason could not be more excited about the Edinburgh International Improv Festival. He sees it as an amazing opportunity to show off the amazing talent here in Scotland while also growing the community both locally and internationally.

Michelle McKay (She/Her)

Executive Producer / Co-founder

Michelle is a freelance theatre producer and actress, co-founder of KinkyFish Theatre Company and Kinkyfish Improv. Michelle trained in Classical and Musical Theatre singing before moving into acting, performing extensively as a child in Scotland, later moving to London to continue her career. With her Business Degree and passion for theatre, moving into Theatre Producing was an obvious choice. Michelle honed her skills as a producer with Theatre503 in London as Resident Assistant Producer before moving back to Scotland. Michelle is working on a number of theatre projects as well as running a regular Improv Jam night with KinkyFish Improv.

Michelle is excited to be bringing Scotland’s first Improv Festival to Edinburgh and playing her part in growing the improv community and introducing new audiences to improv.

Laura Hotchkiss (She/Her)

Head of Social Media

Laura is an experienced marketing manager who has been working in the Scottish media industry for almost ten years. She's a new convert to improv having trained with the Glasgow Improv Theatre for the past 18 months. What she lacks in improv experience she makes up for with her deep understanding of the Facebook algorithm and a passion for gifs.

Laura is over the moon to be joining Jason and Michelle in bringing a third year of the Edinburgh International Improv Festival to life. She's experienced first hand how valuable it is to have access to brilliant improv teachers from across the world as well as just how fun festival weekend can be. She plans on using her marketing knowledge for good to help grow the Scottish improv scene.

Advisory Council

Stephen Davidson

Stephen Davidson is the Artistic Director of The Improvised Play, Improvable, QI: Queer Improv, Carmen: A gender-swapped Film Noir Fantasy, and of Zeal: The Pride Improv Festival. Stephen teaches improv through Improvable and the Nursery Theatre, with the Free London Improv Project, and Hoopla Impro. He has taught and performed all over the world.

Stephen loves improv and is one of the world’s most cheerful people when playing or teaching. When coaching and directing improv he prides himself on creating a positive environment so that players can perform at their best. Stephen likes his improv like he likes his partners; silly, clever, and emotionally connected. Stephen has studied improv through i/o Chicago, The Nursery, Annoyance, UCB, Hoopla, The Maydays, Music Box, Showstoppers, Imprology, and with many visiting artists including Dave Razowsky, Bill Arnett, Kaci Beeler, Heather Anne Campbell, Deanna Fleysher, and many more.

Monica Gaga

Monica Gaga is a British-born black African queer improviser, facilitator, host, performer and producer.

She trained in Community Theatre at East 15 Acting School, and her boundless love for improv stems from time spent at Second City in Chicago.

When she is not performing, hosting or teaching, Monica is championing diversity in improv and trying to get as many people, particularly POC, involved as possible.

Monica is based in London, UK.

As seen, heard and staged on BBC Three, ITVBe, London Live, BBC History, BBC Radio London, Global Pillage, The Comedy Store, Hoopla Impro, Boulevard Theatre and more.

Taliah Horner

The highlight of Taliah’s improv career would have to be as director of The Improverts, Edinburgh Fringe Festival’s longest running improvised comedy show. Alongside her improv, she’s also a stand-up comic and was the director of Bedlam Fringe’s Late Night 2019, a late night alternative comedy show. While the theatres are hibernating, she’s pursuing her career as a software developer but lies ready to pounce back onto the stage.

David Armstrong

David is a New York-based writer, performer, comedian, and educator originally from
San Diego. He has been improvising for 20 years, and has performed at Upright Citizens Brigade, Second City, the People’s Improv Theater, and the National Comedy Theatre among others, and has taught improvisation for nearly as long, most recently at Greenhouse Improv Education. His most recent play, Behind the Ides, about the controversy surrounding Shakespeare in the Park’s Julius Caesar, had a short run in Los Angeles, directed by one of his best friends. An eternal nerd, David watches too many British panel shows, DM’s a lot of D&D, and knows too many podcasts.

Marina Mastros

Marina Mastros is an actress, writer, and DEI consultant from Los Angeles. She has been a DEI Director for six years. She's created Inclusion Programs for theaters across the American southwest. She was a speaker at Our Cities on Our Stages, an international DEI improv symposium held in Toronto. Last year, she also created the first DEI improv symposium for Los Angeles, Everybody Get in Here! Her independent workshops include How to Start Your Own Inclusion Program, Leading Ladies, and Disrupting Power Together, among others.

Marina was an Inclusion Director, teacher, and performer at iO West until its closing. Previously, she taught and performed at the National Comedy Theatre and at Sidestage Improv in San Diego, California. She is a graduate of UCB Los Angeles, iO Chicago, and Impro Theatre. Marina now performs at UCB with house team Sassy Bluff, and with MAX at the Sacred Fools Theatre in Hollywood. She can be seen on Correctamundo! on the El Rey Network, and as a channel host for New Rockstars.

Minder Kaur Athwal

As well as six years experience as an improviser, Minder is an applied improv facilitator. She trained as a facilitator with the Old Vic Theatre and has also been a team leader running a UK improv community. She has taken part in international panels, Q&As and conference talks mostly focused on diversity, community building and leadership in Improv. In 2019 she led a session at the Global Improvisation Symposium on challenges facing under represented racial groups in UK improv.

Minder is one half of improv duo - Honey Badger, a member of the all female theatre collective -  The Party Somewhere Else and brings her knowledge and skills from her varied career to her improv work. 

With experience in marketing, event planning, the internationalisation of Higher Education, service design and several years working for an American entrepreneur, she has valuable skills which she is transfering into consulting work.

Some of the common threads in her previous roles include creating positive experiences and cultures, building inclusive environments and working to make organisations more effective in meeting the needs of their members.

Board Members

Will Naameh (He/Him)

Will Naameh is an improviser with twelve years experience. His training includes Second City Chicago, iO Chicago, Annoyance and UCB. He is a founding member of Men With Coconuts and The Spontaneous Players. 

He is also an improvisational comedy rapper under his rap name MC Hammersmith. He is the 2017 UK Improv Smackdown Champion and won Best Newcomer at the Scottish Comedy Awards.

Laura Cheyne (She/Her)

Laura is the Head of Marketing for the National Trust for Scotland and has 16 years’ experience in the marketing industry. She is a long-time supporter of tourism and culture in Scotland, currently sitting on the board of the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions and the Scottish Tourism Alliance Council and having lead campaigns for award winning attractions such as Stirling Castle and the Battle of Bannockburn centre. Laura has also played a role in national tourism initiatives such as Homecoming 2014 and Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017. 

Laura is delighted to be part of the team launching the innovative and exciting Edinburgh International Improv Festival to the bustling Edinburgh Festival scene.  

Kris Keane (He/Him)

Kris is an accountant by trade currently working at Deloitte LLP in Edinburgh.

Outside of the day job Kris is a big fan of music, comedy, film, theatre, etc and frequently has tickets for some event or another! Kris hopes to provide support to the executive team of Blank Script Limited and the Edinburgh International Improv Festival by bringing his business experience and arts consumer experience to the table.

© 2018 Edinburgh International Improv Festival

Blank Script Limited - Company No. SC596693, Scotland

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