Professor, Acting & Improv

A New Zealander by birth, Dr. Charles has called the United States his home since 1991 and joined the Rollins’ faculty in 2003 where he has served as Departmental Chair, Producing Director of the Annie Russell Theatre, and a Cornell Distinguished Faculty Member. Much of his scholarly and performance work has focused on the realm of improvisational and non-scripted theatre. He has performed with numerous professional improvisational companies across North America, such as Chicago Comedysportz, Astor’s Beechwood, Downtown Disney’s Comedy Warehouse and Sak Comedy Lab, where he currently performs almost weekly as a member of the professional ensemble. Dr. Charles is also a graduate of North America’s oldest improvisational training center, Josephine Forsberg’s Players Workshop of Second City, and is the founding Artistic Director of Rollins Improv Players, an active on-campus troupe committed to service and entertainment through performance.

Creating and directing new improvisational work represents a particular passion—original works include: Your Opera in a Trunk (Pensacola Opera), FourPlay: The Improvised Musical (Sak Comedy Lab, Winter Park Playhouse), Is This Seat Taken? (Jester Theater), and Murder We Wrote, It’s All Greek to Me, The Lost Comedies of William Shakespeare, Upton Abbey, and Private Lies on the beautiful Annie Russell stage at Rollins College. Dr. Charles's primary interest is exploring theatre's boundaries, function, and face in our ever-changing modern world. He is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, and the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the Hugh F. McKean Award and Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship.

His comprehensive Improv Dictionary: An A to Z of Improvisational Terms, Techniques, and Tools was published by Routledge (April 2024) and serves as a companion piece to his curated blog series of spontaneous exercises, warm-ups, ands games housed at that has attracted readers from over 140 countries around the world.


PhD, Theatre History, Criticism and Dramatic Literature, Louisiana State University
MFA, Theatre Performance, Western Illinois University
BA (Hons), Theatre Performance and English, Roosevelt University

David Charles portrait