IONS Directory Profile


Patricia Ryan Madson, Sr. Lecturer Emerita, Stanford University, has been teaching for four decades. On the Stanford drama faculty since 1977, she founded the Stanford Improvisors in 1991. As head of the undergraduate acting program, she won the university’s highest teaching prize, the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for outstanding contribution to undergraduate education. She also teaches at the Esalen Institute and for Stanford’s Continuing Studies. Patricia lives with her husband, Ronald Madson, and their Himalayan cat, Tara, in El Granada, California, where they direct the California Center for Constructive Living.

In 1996 she founded the Creativity Initiative at Stanford, an interdisciplinary alliance of faculty who share the belief that creativity can be taught. Patricia has taught Design Improv for the School of Engineering, and was a guest lecturer for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and for the Mayfield Fellows Program.

She teaches regularly for the Esalen Institute, and has given workshops for the Banff Centre for Leadership Studies, the California Institute for Integral Studies, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, the National Association of Drama Therapists, the Western Psychological Association, Duke University East Asian Studies Center and the Meaningful Life Therapy Association in Japan. Patricia combines her teaching of improvisation with work as a counselor using an Eastern approach to problem solving known as Constructive Living TM.  For ten years she was the American Coordinator of the Oomoto School of Traditional Japanese Arts in Kameoka, Japan. Patricia was one of the founding Board members of Bay Area TheatreSportsTM, and has been a long time student of Keith Johnstone.  She currently serves on the Outside Financial Advisory Board of the San Francisco Zen Center.

She is the author of Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up .


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