University of Pittsburgh
September 25, 2005

High Drama and Improvisation Blend to Enhance Business Skills in a Pitt Classroom


Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-A Pitt Theatre Arts faculty member is bringing her stage and screen skills to the classroom in a new six-week course called "Developing Your Business Style Using Theater Techniques," offered to students in Pitt's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.

Kathryn Spitz, teaching artist-in-residence and a professional actress, is teaching students in the Katz School basic acting techniques, including how to listen, respond, and improvise, to help them in many business situations-from presentations to "elevator moments."

"Improvisation develops the ability to think on your feet," says Spitz, who, along with Pitt assistant professor of theatre arts Melanie Dreyer, designed the course. "That's a valuable skill when responding to impromptu questions following a presentation or handling unexpected questions in an interview." The students are developing skills that will give them a keen awareness of themselves and others, help them give and receive feedback, and improve their confidence and verbal and physical communication skills, added Spitz.

Six students are enrolled in the one-credit course, which meets for two hours every Wednesday through Oct. 12. It is expected to be offered again in the spring term.

Spitz, a Pittsburgh native who holds the Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University's School of Communication, has been producing, directing, and acting locally since returning here from Los Angeles in 1994. While in L.A., Spitz worked with Paul Reiser, Lisa Kudrow, Linda Hamilton, the late John Ritter, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Wopat, Lindsay Wagner, and many others on such shows as Mad About You, Beauty and the Beast, Designing Women, L.A. Law, The Young and the Restless, and others. She has taught at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Musical Theater, The Talent Group, CLO Academy, and Point Park Conservatory, and is artistic and education director of Pitt's Shakespeare-in-the-Schools program.