“Marian is magic! With her, people do the impossible.” – Dr. Lois Holzman, Director of the East Side Institute
Marian Rich is a comic educator, performance activist and play revolutionary based in New York City. Trained as an actress, comedic improviser and theatrical director, Marian has spent over 30 years supporting people to unleash their creativity and playfulness. With a strong belief in the transformational power of performance and play, Marian creates positive and compassionate environments that strengthen participants’ social and relational muscles.
I learned about creative conversations from Marian. As educators we believe we have to tell a student what they have to do. Now I have students who regularly come to talk to me just to be with me. – Mauricio Canuto, Educator, Sao Paulo, Brazil
During the COVID19 pandemic she has developed a practice that brings the power and joy of improvisation and play to people around the world. A co-founder of the Global Play Brigade, she uses her warmth, humor and vulnerability to co-create virtual workshops where people can connect and build community across borders. Her joyful spirit encourages people to be curious, to play with the uncomfortable, to be open to what is emergent and unexpected. She helps people from many countries and cultures to get closer through improvisational play.
Even in the face of disagreements (large and small), reactiveness or when someone is triggered, participants in Marian’s interactive and improvisational workshops become closer, rather than moving away from each other.
Marian is a great listener. She’s empathic and understands what is happening emotionally. She also has the guts to point it out, take risks and help others to take risks. She is demanding and loving at the same time. She has this aura of being an amazing director and gets very close to you. – Elena Boukouvala, Drama Therapist and Psychologist, Epineio Institute; Founder & Chair of PPLG, Thessaloniki, Greece
As faculty at the East Side Institute, Marian practices social therapeutics, an approach to human development and social change that relates to people as creators of their culture and ensemble performers of their lives. Her playful and philosophical sessions during the East Side Institute’s International Class residencies have impacted activists, educators and scholars from around the world who are looking for ways to infuse their work with the power of performance.
I learned that leading is an activity, it is not a status. Instead of saying some people are better leaders than others, leading is an activity we can all do and to me that was revolutionary. There were many moments with Marian that we were not thinking about leadership, we were doing it. It was beautiful to see the leadership going back and forth between different people.” – Aurélie Harp, Founder & CEO, Womanity Project, New York, NY
A longtime community organizer, Marian is a longtime volunteer builder of the national nonprofit All Stars Project where she has taught the popular Improv for Everyone class to non-actors, young and old. She is a co-founder and Artistic Associate of the All Stars Project’s Castillo Theatre.
She presents at conferences around the world, including the Global Improvisation Initiative, the Applied Improvisation Network, Play Perform Learn Grow, and The Association for the Study of Play. She is the Chair of the International Organizing Committee for the Performing the World conference. Marian has co-authored a chapter, “Playing Around with Changing the World,” with her colleague Dr. Carrie Lobman, which will be published in The Applied Improvisation Mindset by Bloomsbury Press in 2021.
An accomplished comic improviser, Marian has also performed stand-up comedy and explored humanitarian clowning with Dr. Patch Adams. Marian is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with a focus in Experimental Theatre.