Action Theater is a practice of improvisation that has its roots in physical theater, dance and meditation.  Through tuning in to sensory experience, we hone awareness of the moment.  Following what the moment asks for, we respond with movement, sounding and speech, creating performance that is less cerebral and more embodied.  In the practice studio, exercises that focus on the elements of form–timing, shape, space, duration, size, pitch, volume, mood, etc.–allow us to increase our awareness and control of the details of our expression. Exercises that focus on imagination and relationship expand our ability to create story and discover meaning and connection. Combined with a constant practice of releasing judgement and embracing what is, we achieve liberation from familiar patterns of expression and begin to explore the vast array of possibilities available in the human experience. 

Classes are taught by Mary Rose and Nathaniel Holder, both certified Action Theater teachers who have trained extensively with Ruth Zaporah, the creator of Action Theater. Mary and Nathaniel’s style of teaching is playful and welcoming to all.  They love to share improvisation with others and encourage community within the classroom.  This work goes deep and tends to create a strong feeling of connection between practitioners.

Mary Rose

Mary Rose is an improviser, actress, dancer, teacher, director, mother and caregiver. (As well as co-owner of Nalu Kava Bar and Tea Lounge! Come check us out! ) For the past 18 years, she has been focusing her training and teaching on Action Theater. She received her teaching certification in 2014 and started Portland Action Theater, which became a collaboration with Nathaniel Holder in 2018. Her most recent stage appearance was in Lora Grasshopper Kitty Cat–a partially devised show about Portlander Lora Lafayette based on her memoir. After receiving her B.S.S. in theater at Northwestern University in 2001, she moved to Portland to work with Sojourn Theatre in 2003. Soon after, she started The Jumping Off Place with Domeka Parker–both of their first forays into teaching improvisation. Over the course of her time in Portland, she has been spotted on stage in various performances including Many Hats Productions’ Break, Then Open, Dance Naked Productions’ Inviting Desire, various collaborations with Deep End Theater, Free Box–created and performed by herself and Nathaniel Holder., and Too Late–which was devised with the Portland Action Theater Ensemble (PÂTÉ) using Action Theater and other modalities and co-written and directed by her husband, Sean Bowie with whom she shares a theater company– YOCTOTheatre. Off stage she has directed Kristin Olson-Huddle’s Going On and YOCTOTheatre’s productions, Genuis and Cocktales. Her other off-stage and out-of studio interests are writing poetry, singing, collaging, amateur herbalism, cooking and eating with friends and family, playing games with her son, facilitating neighborhood connection, creating magical ceremony, communing with nature…Her personal credo: Say yes! to life and love is the point!

Nathaniel Holder
Nathaniel is a certified teacher of Action Theater. He has also studied Eurythmy, Contact Improvisation, and various movement and dance modalities for the past 20 years. Improvised performances have included Free Box with Mary Rose, an Action Theater inspired completely improvised show using audience donated objects, 1plus1equals1, Throo the Wazoo, and hands water roots. He has also appeared in staged shows in Imago’s To Fly Again, Identity Shift – an original one-person play, and Too Late with PÂTÉ.  Nathaniel is grateful to Mary for being one of his first teachers of Action Theater.