YBY ep 293: Deana Criess on building inclusivity through improv!

This week on Yes But Why, I spoke with Creative Consultant, Deana Criess.

Deana Criess

photo credit Jenny Maloney

Deana Criess has been a professional improviser for more than 20 years. A master instructor, director, and performer, Deana has done shows and workshops at festivals, theaters, colleges, and Fortune 500 companies all over the country.

Deana is currently the Associate Director of Recruitment & Admissions and Applied Improvisation Specialist for Career Launch @ Perkins, an innovative job training program she helped to develop at Perkins School for the Blind. There, she uses improvisation to teach job readiness and job acquisition skills to adults who are blind and visually impaired.

Deana is the founder and former Director of IBCreative, a program for which she created improv workshops for corporate and academic settings. She has also had extensive experience bringing improv to nonprofits, such as her wellness workshops at Childrens’ Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute as well as her therapeutic programs for dementia patients and their caregivers.

Deana Criess teaching Perkins School For The Blind

photo credit Michael Brook

In our conversation, we talk about Deana’s full life in the theater. From her childhood as a community theater actor to raising her kids to be performers, Deana has made creativity a major priority in her life.

Deana tells me about going to Emerson College and how it helped her find her own voice as a comedian. We talk about the teachers who have helped us to unlock our creativity and to explore the “WHAT IF.”

We chat about doing impressions for our parents’ friends when we were kids. We bond over both being from Massachusetts and how we both discovered improv later in life.

We talk about accessibility, positivity, and inclusivity. We explore the world of online improv and discuss what we learned during the height of the pandemic.

We agree that improv can save the world. Deana’s work with improv has connected her with many different communities. She has taught improv to kids for bully prevention, to adults with autism and other mental health issues, and now, to young adults who are blind.

We had a really great conversation; this podcast episode is only 90 minutes of the three-and-a-half hours we spent becoming besties. Enjoy our lovefest!

Support Deana Criess by reading her blog about applied improv. It is filled with great tips to help you in your life! Also, support places like Deana’s homebase, Perkins School of the Blind, who are using improv to create safe spaces for people from all walks of life.


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This episode of Yes But Why is also sponsored by True Hemp Science! True Hemp Science is our Austin-based resource for vegan friendly, whole plant extract CBD oil. Go to TrueHempScience.com to peruse all the therapeutic CBD product options! Use code YesButWhy7 to get 7% off your order of $50 or more and get a free packet of 2 CBD edibles!




(production notes: recorded via ZOOM on 10/29/2021…posted on 12/13/2021)

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