I earned a Master of Arts in Teaching and am an member of the Actors Equity Association. An award-winning actor/improviser and former main stage cast member of the famed comedy theater, The Second City, I founded Fishladder Inc to bring the art of improvisation to national and international clients ranging from Fortune 500 to non-profits.

I share what I've learned about how to be ready for the unexpected in my book, Yes, And! Harnessing the Power of Improvisation to Transform Your Life and Work.

For as long as I can remember, I've been using that same improvisational approach in my writing and painting thanks, in part, to a long-time favorite painting partner, my dad. I continue to explore poetry, fiction, and painting on a regular basis and, through my work, continue to be surprised at how differently people see the world from the way I do.


Others experience the same conversation, sunset, situation, or celebration I do, yet walk away with different stories. When the experience is layered by mental illness, job losses, divorce, illness or death,  the chasms between our divergent perceptions of reality grow deeper and colder.


My work is an attempt to understand others. To do so, I manipulate the medium to help me imagine the particular experience for a different point of view. The creative quest leads me to empathy and often more questions.

I am inspired by Viola Spolin’s words, “A fixed attitude is a closed door.”

Mary Jane Pories

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