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All The World's A Stage...
Do you need an actor, improviser, Applied Improvisation trainer, MC, guest speaker or storyteller for your play, film, commercial, party, corporate training programme, video, conference, PR event...? Call me!
I'm Kay Ross in Hong Kong, and I LOVE watching, participating in, teaching and marketing the performing arts.
Check out my performing arts CV and my fab photo gallery, then contact me today if you need my services.
A multi-talented performer
As a teenager in Adelaide, Australia, I was a member of a youth theatre group called The Saturday Company for four years; sang in the choir and performed in theatre productions at Adelaide Girls' High School, and sang in the choir and studied Drama (history, theory and performance) for one year at Adelaide University.
Since then, I've done countless workshops in acting, Playback Theatre, improvisation, stand-up comedy, singing, dancing, clowning...
When I was based in Edinburgh, Scotland, from August 1979 to October 1980, I performed in some amateur theatre productions, including one in the 1980 Fringe Festival.
In Hong Kong, I've been involved in lots of shows with the Hong Kong Players, Hong Kong Singers, American Community Theater, Kassia Women's Choir and other groups - I've performed onstage and/or helped with publicity or stage management.
I've also done some professional acting gigs: I was an extra in a local feature film; played Margaret Thatcher in a TV commercial; appeared as Mrs Santa Claus in a Christmas promotion in several shopping-malls; was a story-teller for local kindergarten students; and acted in an online promotional video for a group of Hong Kong hotels.
I also speak French, so I've performed many roles as a cheeky French maid. Ooh la la!
I devised, directed and performed in some improvised stunts as part of the TEDxMongKok event in Hong Kong on May 24, 2012. The theme of the day was “Chaos”. In the morning, we had a group of actors playing various characters, interacting with the delegates. Then in the afternoon, we presented a fake but very believable TED talk about chaos by "Professor Kay Ottik" (me!). Here's the 6-minute video.
On March 10, 2018, with my friends Christopher Coleman and Namrata Bindra, I performed in an improv set as part of the TEDxHKPolyU event at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The theme of the whole event was “Unscripted”, and we called ourselves TEDxcellent Improv. Here’s the video (16m 5s).
The healing power of laughter
I’m a member of People's Liberation Improv
(PLI), an English-language comedy improvisation troupe founded in 2008 and based in Hong Kong. We perform comedy improv shows featuring unscripted, improvised-on-the-spot
scenes inspired by suggestions from you, the audience (think “Whose Line is it
Anyway?”). Not suitable for children.
We’ve performed at many venues in Hong Kong, and at improv festivals in Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul.
Our Next Live Show:
To be confirmed. It depends on the government's Covid regulations about live entertainment.
Contact me if you have any questions about PLI.
- Using improv as a training tool
“Applied Improvisation” means taking the principles, skills and mindset of improv offstage, and applying them in life and work. And they absolutely do apply, because like improv, life and business don't come with a script!
I explain more in this article: “Interview with Kay Ross – How Improv can Strengthen Leaders & Teams” from Milestone|3, a leadership training and consulting firm in Hong Kong.
So I offer tailor-made training workshops for corporate clients, universities and community groups, giving them a fun, hands-on, practical and immediately applicable experience of approaching life and work in an improvisational way. Not your typical training lecture with PowerPoint slides! And don’t panic - it’s not about performing or being funny, and no acting or improv experience is required.
Why hire me to lead a workshop? Because you and your team will build your skills in
leadership, teamwork, communication, public speaking, emotional intelligence, creativity,
innovation, experimentation, intelligent risk-taking, trust, presence,
resilience, resourcefulness, nimble responsiveness to change and the
unexpected... And because of that, you and your organisation will thrive in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.
Around the world, Applied Improvisation trainers/facilitators like me
work with clients in such fields as business, education, government,
healthcare, coaching, therapy, youth work, the military and police
forces, conflict resolution, disaster preparedness and response,
Here's a very short video of me leading an Applied Improvisation workshop (on Facebook and on YouTube) for entrepreneurs and staff at theDesk co-working space in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, on March 22, 2019. The last bit of the video is me being interviewed about Applied Improvisation and the venue.
See my TEDx talk (March 10, 2018) about how life is an improvisation game and a playground of possibilities (15m 8s). The theme of the whole day was “Unscripted”.
At the PechaKucha Night Hong Kong event on September 20, 2019, I spoke on the topic of “Life is an Improvisation Game”, and gave several examples of Applied Improvisation projects around the world. PechaKucha events happen in many cities worldwide. There are 8-10 speakers each time, and each speaker has just 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide = 6m 40s.
Here’s the video.
Curious? Want to know more about hiring me? Contact me
My experience as an Applied Improvisation trainer includes:
- Since June 2011 I’ve given many talks and led or co-led many public and private workshops in Hong Kong; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand, and Wellington, New Zealand.
Clients have included a global hotel company, a global insurance company, universities, a global data analytics company, a company that manages serviced apartments around Asia, New Zealand's national drama school, a department of the Hong Kong Government that focuses on innovation, a company that runs musical-theatre summer camps for children, a branding/graphic design firm, a bank, business networking organisations, non-profit organisations... Participants have included teenagers and adults.
“It was one of the best classes (if not the best) class that I’ve ever had in university. Truly enjoyed it! (Could we have more classes likes this?)”
“The idea of “Yes, and...” will definitely help open up more opportunities for me at school, at work and in life.”
“This is just a quick note to thank you personally for all the great work you did on our programme this week as well as your warm and lovely facilitation. We found the activities well focused on the ideas we wanted to highlight, and we found that your debriefing really brought home the relevant issues and your presence and supportive approach was taken very positively by the participants.”
“Kay held a half-day workshop with our entire team, using improv as a way to cultivate greater collaboration and creativity... We were immensely pleased with the outcome, with all participants saying they found the training very useful, with techniques that they will apply in their daily work. While it’s not immediately obvious, improv techniques are very applicable in a business setting and I highly recommend Kay.”
“Your Improv session was very interesting and inspiring, and it really got me thinking about how I should react to the world around me.”
- I gave two presentations at the regional conference of the international
Applied Improvisation Network in Manila, the Philippines, in July 2013.
The sessions were titled “Making the Case for Applied Improv”, about
how companies and organisations around the world are using applied
improvisation, and “How to Sell an Applied Improv Program”, about how to
make a convincing case to potential clients.
- Combining my skills and interest in improv and personal development, I presented a workshop (twice), titled “Life is a Playground of Possibilities: Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being”, at the international conference of the Applied Improvisation Network near Montreal, Canada (September 2015). I've also presented the same workshop, as a public event, in Hong Kong (April 2016 and November 2017) and Darwin, Australia (May 2016).
“The work you do and person that you are exemplifies the thriving life and future I imagine and aspire to.”
“As a facilitator, you are fun, engaging and able to get your point across, without imposing your views. I enjoyed every part of the session and am now putting what I learned into practice.”
- I also organised and promoted a public workshop, “The Wisdom of Play”, led by visiting American improviser and trainer Gary Schwartz in Hong Kong (March 2014).
So what qualifies me to be an Applied Improvisation trainer?
- I've been an actor since I was teenager, I studied Drama for one year at university, I performed stand-up comedy for four years, and I've performed with Hong Kong-based English-language improv troupe People’s Liberation Improv since March 2008.
- I’ve attended regional and global conferences of the Applied Improvisation Network in Melbourne, Australia; Manila, the Philippines; Berlin, Germany; and Montreal, Canada.
- I’m also a Marketing Consultant, Editor and Copywriter, so I understand business.
- I have over 20 years’ experience designing and presenting corporate training workshops about marketing, copywriting, PR, social media and the concept of “Content Marketing” (i.e., using storytelling and emotions in marketing material).
- I’ve also attended many workshops about such topics as personal development, emotional intelligence, bodywork, healing, public speaking, entrepreneurship, marketing, communication, psychology, training, facilitation, coaching and storytelling.
Here are some blog posts I've written about Applied Improvisation:
“Thriving in Uncertainty – The Promise of Improv”, about the applied improvisation conference in Melbourne and my trip to Wellington in July 2012
“How To Succeed In Business: Improvise!”
“34 Reasons To Learn Improv”
“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation…”, which includes a link to a no-cost list of resources by many people that I compiled
“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 2” - MORE resources
“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 3” - even MORE resources
“Improvising More Resourceful, Joyful Ways of Being” - about the workshop I presented at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference in Montreal, September 2015 (written before the event)
“New Choice” – about one of the games we played in the workshop I presented at the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference in Montreal
"Creativity and Improvisation" - about the book "Creativity, Inc." by Ed Catmull of Pixar Animation. It seems to me that much of what he writes about creativity and the Pixar culture is actually about approaching things with an improvisational mindset.
“All About Improv, Applied Improv, Creativity, Play, Innovation... Part 4” - yes, with even MORE resources
So if you’d like me to show you and your team how to approach life and business with an improvisational mindset, contact me.
From February 2007 to July 2011,
I regularly performed my own original stand-up comedy material at the TakeOut
Comedy Club, Hong Kong’s (and Asia’s) only full-time, dedicated comedy
For a taste of my stand-up style, check out this YouTube video of my performance at the late-night show at the Club on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2009 (thanks to cameraman James Foreman).
I’ve also performed stand-up comedy at other venues and events in Hong Kong; New York City; Honolulu, Hawaii; Tucson, Arizona; Wellington, New Zealand; Bali, Indonesia; Pune, India; and Mumbai, India.
And there's more...
All of my performing arts experience helps me to be a more effective marketer, editor, writer, trainer and public speaker, so YOU’’LL get better results. For example:
- I present public training seminars about marketing and media relations that are particularly popular with visual and performing artists and arts organisations.
- I used to be the Listings Editor at the South China Morning Post newspaper - for six years I compiled the daily listings of what was on around town (e.g., performing and visual arts shows, arthouse films, community events etc.). So I know what journalists want and need.
- I’ve written or edited all sorts of marketing communications material about the performing and visual arts.
- I edit the English-language publicity blurb about the shows and events at the Hong Kong Fringe Club, our leading alternative arts venue.
- I’ve done lots of paid or volunteer work on marketing campaigns for performing arts shows and events - I was the professional publicist for the 1986 Adelaide Fringe Festival, and have helped with marketing and front-of-house duties for many shows in Hong Kong.
- Watching and performing in shows helps me to understand human psychology and behaviour (and that helps me with my healing work too).
So if you're looking for someone with my unique combination of talents, please contact me today.