Who am I as a teacher?
Ben Verhoeven is a professional improviser and teacher from Antwerp, Belgium. He’s currently the managing director of Swaajp Improtheater, co-director of Werewolves the improv show and also performs musical improvisation with Commotie. Since starting improvisation in 2011, Ben has performed over one hundred shows in nine different countries in three different languages.
Ben has been running the Swaajp School of Improv since 2017 and regularly teaches workshops to various groups in Belgium and abroad (Germany, New Zealand, France, Slovenia, The Netherlands). He’s also a founding member of The SIN, an international network for ambitious improvisers in Europe. Ben believes that playing through emotions and a character’s point of view leads improvisers to finding more beautiful stories to put on stage.
When going abroad to teach at improvisation groups or festivals, I love sharing my point of view on improvisation in the hope of inspiring other improvisers to try out new things. Many times I’ve learnt so much myself from working with new people that have different perspectives or styles and that mutual enrichment is my ultimate dream.
Below are the descriptions of the workshops that I can bring. All workshops are available in English, Dutch and French. Feel free to send me a message to talk about what (else) I can do for you!
Pathos and passion
For me, the most rewarding moment on stage doing improv is the absolute silence that engulfs a theatre during an emotional scene. Achieving this means you have successfully connected to your audience. You made them care so much that they are even holding their breath awaiting how the scene will unfold.
One important aspect for creating such moments is showing honest emotions. This workshop is about exploiting real and nuanced emotions to make your audience care. We will use acting exercises to experience how our face, voice and body changes when feeling specific emotions. We will analyze those changes and employ them to inject tension into a scene. If you invest in your scene, the audience will invest in you.
Keeping up appearances
Sometimes when improvising a scene, we don’t know where we’re headed, other times we are surprised by our partner’s offer. In both cases, we don’t want the audience to notice this. Showing confidence — meaning hiding our doubt as an actor — is the key to make this work.
In this workshop we will work on confidently making bold offers, but also follow our partners’ strong offers with as much confidence. While the actor sometimes doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing, the character always knows. Confidence will become our second nature.
Werewolves, the improv show
Werewolves is an improvised theatre show based on the popular game Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. The actors play out the story of a village which is struck by a werewolf curse. Every night an innocent villager is murdered. The audience has to find out who the werewolves are and execute them. Together with Sytse Wilman, I co-direct a Dutch-Belgian ensemble that performs this show at international festivals.
In this workshop, you will learn to perform this show full of blood-thirsty wolves and innocent villagers. Step by step I will guide you through its different phases and teach some techniques that help to convincingly perform it. We give some special attention to suspense and the stage picture.
Songs with structure
In this workshop we dive into some new and refurbished ideas you can use for improvising songs. We will learn some structures that are guaranteed to impress your audience. Participants are expected to have previous experience with musical improvisation.
This workshop is taught together with the amazing pianist Ingmar Dasseville. The material for this workshop was developed during rehearsals with our musical improvisation ensemble Commotie.
People are born with the ability to move, see, listen, touch, taste and … to make music. This workshop is about using the number one instrument that nature has provided for us — our voice — for making our own soundtrack on stage. We will build up songs with beats, harmonies and melodies and learn to use them for both underscoring scenes with music and singing fully improvised a capella songs.
Indian Improv Tribe,
“Ben geeft angstig leuke workshop” Een dag bezig geweest met Impro Weerwolven, erg leuk en zeer leerzaam. Goede opbouw en geen moment verveeld. Mooie mix van basis, uitwerking en achtergrond. Zeker een aanrader.
Tanine M. Dunais
Ben is a generous, attentive and positive teacher. In his workshop (Pathos and Passion), his inviting and calm attitude helped everyone including myself relax and open up. The trusting ambiance he created not only allowed me to openly explore the heights of my emotions but also comfortably tap into them in scene work.
His Werewolf (the format) workshop was so cleverly organized and set up that we, not only learned the format from inside out but also managed to play it with sufficient confidence at the end of the day.
Thank you Ben
De workshop rond emoties in impro was een schot in de roos. Oefeningen in intensiteit van emoties werden afgewisseld met heel korte dialogen waarin de zin ‘Ik weet het’ heel centraal stond… bij momenten echt kippenvel.
Als kerst op de taart enkele massa scenes waarbij de totale focus ging naar 2 personages : een verteller en een luisteraar. Door de grote gerichtheid van de ‘figuranten’ op twee hoofdpersonages, kwam de emotionele beleving van nog meer op de voorgrond… enkele wauw momentjes
Kortom een aanrader
I really enjoyed learning a new improv longform. You explained it very well and all the exercises we did were helpful for learning how to perform the show, no unnecessary long name games or warm-ups. I would have preferred a bit more practise, but due to the limited time, it wasn’t possible, so it’s not your fault. In the end, it worked really well and I’m glad we remembered all the different possibilities and monologues. I think, as a teacher, it’s important to interrupt a scene that is stuck and talk about ways or ideas to improve things on stage. You did this always in a polite and positive manner.
Improv Comedy Bangalore,
The workshop Ben conducted at the Bengaluru Improv Festival 2019, ‘Pathos and Passion’, helped me slow down, setup scenes and tap into emotion in different ways to develop a narrative.
It was amazing to see it put into practice: the honesty, support and calm that the workshop encouraged, when Ben performed on stage.
Rozemarijn Van Der Kaaij
Hele fijne workshop! Alles is stap voor stap en ontzettend duidelijk uitgelegd, om vervolgens met dat specifieke gedeelte te oefenen. Zo bouw je langzaam, beetje bij beetje, de voorstelling op, totdat je aan het einde van de dag het hele concept/voorstelling kan spelen. Je duikt voor een dag een compleet andere wereld in en ik heb er oprecht van genoten, dankjewel Ben!
Dealing with emotions is never an easy task, even if the outcome is positive. I think the workshop is really well structure because it started with fun and creating easy positive connections between us to prepare us for the heavy part (scale of emotions and understanding how we process them) to then apply what we learnt about our emotions into some scenes. I can assure you that by the end of the workshop I had more energy than when I came in, so very nice magic you used.
Remco Van Vliet
Op zaterdag 8 december is Ben van Antwerpen naar Voorburg afgereisd om ons team (De Tegenpartij mét Tim en de Tina’s) kennis te laten maken met de wondere wereld van Wakkerdam. Hierbij goede aandacht voor de technieken van het spel én ook de puntjes op de i: suspense en podiumbeeld voor de totale duur van de voorstelling. Ben bedankt voor deze lessen en je fijne manier van lesgeven! Tot in Wakkerdam?
Ben, you are sensitive, positive and very energetic, which made the workshop very easy to follow. I like how structured you are and — on the other hand — how honest you were with your form of teaching (I mean also with small changes and spontaneous things). I felt comfortable at any time!
Improv Comedy Bangalore,
Had the wonderful chance to take Ben’s workshop titled ‘Pathos and Passion’ and watch couple of his shows too. the shows were amazing and the most wonderful contribution by Ben was to be able to pace out rhythm of the scene and create authentic connection based on emotions and words with his scene partner.
At the workshop, Ben was most generous and informed facilitator one could ask for by traversing safely the scopes of emotional authenticity and rational usage of them for improv scene work. The fixing of axis to emotional work (and not forced comedy) was tender and much timely. considering the sensitive nature of the workshop, Ben was able to hold space for all participants and be vulnerable himself. Strongly recommended.
Wij hebben het enorme genoegen gehad om een twee-daagse workshop onder leiding van Ben te mogen meemaken. Hij is een serieuze, enthousiaste trainer met een goede kijk op de improvisatie en sociale kwaliteiten van de acteurs. De stage (weerwolven) was goed opgebouwd en het was enorm leuk om de ontwikkeling van de groep te zien gedurende deze twee dagen. De gehele groep is zeer enthousiaste over Ben en het concept “weerwolven”. Wij kunnen werkelijk alle improvisatie groepen Ben aanraden !! Daarbij is nog het vermelden waard dat de gehele cursus door Ben in het frans is gegeven … !
We hebben een fantastische workshopdag van Ben gehad over de impro longform Weerwolven. De workshop was goed opgebouwd. Het concept is complex, maar helder overgekomen. We kunnen hier maanden mee vooruit om samen te trainen. Ben gaf concrete en opbouwende coaching, heel prettig. Veel dank!
Ben is a great teacher! Nice to everyone, super clear in his format and got the best out of everyone in the group. I recommend everyone who likes to get input in a fun, narrative format to take this class!
Ben is a very structured yet passionate teacher who flexibly adapts to the needs of the group. While he brought across a lot of knowledge and skills, he teaches in a very inspiring way and makes sure that everyone has tons of fun while still being productive. It was a phantastic weekend and the feedback we got from our participants was 100% positive. Go ahead and BOOK HIM!
De workshop “Liedjes met Structuur” is een van de beste — en meest bruikbare — improvisatie-workshops die ik ooit heb gevolgd. Naast gewoon heerlijk zingen, hebben we met een aantal heel praktische tips geoefend die er voor gaan zorgen dat het improviseren van liedjes tijdens een scène makkelijker wordt. Bijzonder hoe men echt nadenkt over hoe muziek een scène kan versterken en een extra emotionele laag kan geven, en meer dan alleen een simpele toevoeging kan zijn. Nu nog proberen al die waardevolle ideeën op het podium te gebruiken. Een aanrader!
I am very grateful to you, Ben, for your professionalism, gentle and careful style of work with such a sensitive topic as feelings\emotions. This workshop is a great opportunity to connect to our own feelings and become more conscious about how we are expressing (or not expressing) them. The finishing part was cherry on top – I went home in a cheerful and relaxed mood, feeling satisfaction.
Mind into Matter,
I had the privilege of learning from Ben at the Bengaluru Improv Fest. Not only is Ben incredibly knowledgable & experienced, he is able to teach with grace and ease. He is a pleasure to be around and has a big heart! I hope we cross paths again. Thank you Ben!
Ben is a great actor and very good with people. I loved the workshop and understood the concept very well. He is always there if anyone struggles and is appreciative of small things in life. Thank you Ben for this experience!