Random stuff about me
You must really be interested if you actually take the time to read this 🙂 .
Anyhow, here goes.
- I have no formal musical training. My dad is a trained pianist. The story goes that with his first wages, he wanted to buy a Carmann Ghia sports car. His mom talked him out of it and got him to buy a Bösendorfer semi grand piano, so he could play sonatas for her. He fact that he would have preferred the car is probably indicative for this musical aspirations. He sold the piano when he got married and got kids. But when I was six he purchased a cheap baby grand piano. Cheap, because he figured the kids would use it as a toy. We did. I vividly remember us building camps underneath the instrument. But I spent probably an hour every day just messing around on that piano. My dad taught me some basics. I was sent to music school when I was 10 but thoroughly hated it and dropped out almost instantly. I still regret that. Learning to play an instrument by yourself is a very inefficient way to go about music.
- I started writing songs when I was 17. I started playing in bands when I was 23. With our cover band ‘The Crowd’ I must have played over 200 gigs.
- I actually wrote and produced a couple of singles for other artists, sometime in the mid-nineties. I’m too ashamed of the quality to list them here 🙂 – but it helped my pay for my first decent instrument: a Roland FP-8.
- I actually stopped performing with bands when I got hooked on Improv. That was February 1997.
- I must have played 100s of short form gigs with The Lunatics, starting 1997. I served as artistic director for them between 1999 and 2005, and did a 2 year stint of chairmanship as well. I thoroughly enjoyed short-form until 2006 and then I’d had enough. I still perform with The Lunatics as a musician from time to time, but I haven’t been on stage as an actor since 2006. Except for a couple of cases where I got pimped.
- After the Lunatics, I wanted to do something with singing and long-form. I ended up founding RIOT, and I ended up behind the piano again. You can find more about the history of RIOT on their website.
- I maintain ImprovEncyclopedia, the web’s largest collection of improv games & formats, terminology and references. That grew out of a database I maintained for my AD work for the Lunatics. I still obsessively collect improv games and formats (some of which described in detail in some of the blog posts here) and ImprovEncylopedia is still being updated several times every year.
- I am one of the moderators of the Facebook group “Improvisational theatre – group for players worldwide”. Most folks assume I run that group, because my picture is on the sticky welcome post on top of the group page. I don’t run the group; it was founded by Manuel Wolff (who is no longer active in the group) and we have 10+ moderators. We have over 13000 members last time I checked.
- My mother tongue is Flemish – which is a flavor of Dutch. I was born in Ghent, Belgium and I currently live near Leuven, which is about 15 miles north-east of Brussels.
- I perform and teach in English, French and Dutch. I can understand German and Spanish but don’t master those as well as I would like.
- Improv is not my day job (though I spend hours every day on improv-related stuff). I have a PhD in Computer Science/Artificial intelligence. I have never used the AI stuff for real work. I have spent most of my professional life in IT management.
- I have traveled a lot. I lived in Edinburgh for over a year as part of my PhD. I have spent several years (on and off) working in the greater Cincinnati area, and have worked in China, India, Australia, Ukraine, Canada & Mexico, as well is in half a dozen European countries. For leisure I have had the pleasure of visiting diverse countries like Pakistan, Morocco, Argentina, Chili, Peru, all of Central America, South Africa, Senegal and New Zealand. And most European countries.