Who Are the Spontaneity Shop - Spontaneity Shop

Who Are the Spontaneity Shop

The Spontaneity Shop was founded by comedian Deborah Frances-White and writer Tom Salinsky as a theatre company specialising in improvisation.

About us

Our clients come to us because they know that their people won’t put up with less than impressive trainers; they want an approach to communication that connects with individual humans, and not just to algorithms; and because their ambitions for Learning and Development are sincere.

Our credibility as guests in your building is rooted in a very different, highly challenging but absolutely practical experience – live theatrical and comedy performance, without a formal script. We come from a very different world, but we have learned to speak your language.

The stage improvisation tradition we are steeped in – inspired by the late improvisation guru Keith Johnstone, and his seminal publication ‘Impro’ – is much more than a recipe for making off-the-cuff TV shows like ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’. It asks deep questions about the creative and collaborative potential of every person, and inspires rigorous introspection as well as a surprising appetite for adventure. So our work with business clients has a deeper potential from many other business skills sessions, and inspires a unique kind of engagement and feedback.

We reject a ‘right answer’ approach; we earn the right to be listened to by your people, however junior, and never the other way round; we think that courage is more inspiring to ambitious people than confidence; we know the difference between confidence and arrogance; we believe that variety is the spice of life, and that human diversity is not an impediment to consistency of output and high standards. And we think that the most interesting column in any company’s accounts is the untapped potential of your people, the magic and energy that you can see is there, often entirely evident to outsiders but locked away and idle, usually because of the very human bugbears of people under pressure: fear and ego.

Who we are

Our work is led by Spontaneity Shop directors Tom Salinsky and Alex MacLaren but we also have access to a pool of other talented trainers, speakers, comedians and actors, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if the job you have in mind needs more people.

Deborah Frances-White

Deborah Frances-White is a comedian best known for her hit podcast The Guilty Feminist which has had 100 million downloads in seven years. She has recorded the show live at The London Palladium, The Sydney Opera House, The London Coliseum and The Barbican.

Deborah’s book The Guilty Feminist is published by Virago and is a Sunday Times Best Seller. She is a screenwriter whose first feature film Say My Name was just produced by Electric Entertainment. It has won multiple film festival awards and was been nominated for Best Screenplay at The London International Filmmaker Festival 2019.

Deborah is in demand as a speaker, regularly delivering seminars on diversity and inclusion. She hosted Stylist’s first ever Remarkable Women Awards in 2019 and regularly hosts the Learning Technologies awards. She is currently working on the screenplay for an animated film and developing a TV series in Australia.

Tom Salinsky

Tom Salinsky is one of the co-founders of The Spontaneity Shop. With Deborah Frances-White, he is the author of The Improv Handbook now in its second edition. He produces three podcasts for The Spontaneity Shop – The Guilty Feminist, Global Pillage and Best Pick which he also presents. Tom is also a writer. With Robert Khan, he is the author of five plays including KINGMAKER (“Sharply satirical ****” – The List) and BREXIT (“Wonderful *****” – The Scotsman) as well as numerous audio plays for Big Finish.

His training work covers a wide range of activities from one-on-one coaching to workshop programmes to speaking at large events. He regularly delivers work on all The Spontaneity Shop’s core themes, but his speciality is communication through storytelling.

Alex Maclaren

Alex MacLaren trained as an actor at the National Youth Theatre, Oxford University and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and he has worked on stages, screens, radio and voiceover studios in the UK and abroad. He began working with the Spontaneity Shop in 2000, and taught Improv in the workshop programme since 2003, in Camden and at RADA and for the Tisch School of Arts New York. He has been coaching and training business clients since 2005.

His training clients range from law firms to banks, luxury retail brands to global advertising agencies, and building firms to TV production companies. He has delivered sessions all over the UK and Europe, and also round the world, from Manhattan to Hong Kong to Johannesburg. He has worked with apprentices and CEOs, big conference audiences and one-on-one coaching clients, charities and governments. He is a regular and highly rated coach at the London Business School and co-presenter with Tom Salinsky of the Spontaneity Shop’s podcast ‘You Can Talk to Anyone’. He lives by the sea in Kent with his family and dog, and is the second of four sons.

Ned Sedgwick

Ned started his podcast career in 2016 with The Spontaneity Shop and their podcast Global Pillage in which he was the co-presenter and lead researcher. Ned was commissioned with the Spontaneity Shop by BBC Radio 4 to present their first exclusive podcast, GrownUpLand, which became one of the flagship shows during the launch of BBC Sounds and the creation of the BBC’s podcast department.

Ned became The Spontaneity Shop’s full-time editor of Global Pillage and latterly chief creative consultant in the diversification of their podcast portfolio. He has worked on the production of the award-winning podcast Media Storm, Absolute Power with John Bercow and The FOC it Up! Comedy Club, and he has consulted with companies as diverse as investment firm Crossboundary and The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Over his seven-year career in the industry Ned has been a driving force of the podcasting boom and understands the inherent potential beyond traditional entertainment and comedy. This exciting and unique media, when utilised correctly, can be an indispensable tool for commercial businesses to enhance their communications and strategy.

Sara Barron

Sara Barron is a UK-based American comedian and writer. Since her 2018 debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, she’s starred on shows including Live at the Apollo (BBC), Would I Lie to You? (BBC) and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order (BBC).
A powerhouse live act, Sara’s three stand-up hours, For Worse (2018) Enemies Closer (2019), and Hard Feelings (2022) have sold out at both the Edinburgh Festival and at multiple runs in London’s Soho Theatre. She was nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards, as well as receiving rave reviews from publications including The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Evening Standard and The Scotsman. As a writer, Sara has published two essay collections, People are Unappealing and The Harm in Asking, both with Random House. Her writing has also featured in Vanity Fair and on This American Life.

In the corporate field, Sara has performed for companies including Spotify, Salesforce, and The Women’s leadership forum, as well as hosting various ceremonies including The Greeting Card Retail Awards, The Excellence in Homewares Awards, and The Kent Wedding Awards.

Nat Luurtsema

Nat started her career as a stand up comedian, she took ten shows to Edinburgh – solo stand up and sketch shows. Her sketch group – Jigsaw – had three sell-out runs, two Radio 4 series and were regulars on BBC’s Live At The Electric.
Nat writes films, TV and books. Her first short film was nominated for a BAFTA in 2014, and since then she has written/directed five more shorts and published five books. She also works as a Senior Creative in social media, coaching and directing talent to make video content for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She has two TV series in development and five feature films. Jennifer Saunders has just signed to star in one of them, a comedy about assisted suicide.

She also played Tallulah Bankhead in Florence Foster Jenkins, but didn’t really nail the accent. Live and learn.

Gina Decio

Gina is Associate Director at the Spontaneity Shop, and is our producer in charge of Live Events. Her degree is in Social Anthropology, and her skills and insights in this field led her to work with female street children in South Africa.

She was responsible for the  management of membership and programming at Adam Street Private Members Club and Black’s Members Club, and is currently Head of the Cultural Program at The Conduit Club. She has been the powerhouse behind the growth and development of the Spontaneity Shop’s Guilty Feminist brand, in both its digital and live manifestations, including the partnership with Amnesty International and the relaunch of the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 2019.

Gina is the person to contact about the Spontaneity Shop’s events delivered by Deborah Frances-White, which focus on corporate social responsibility, the power of play and particularly Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – work that grew out of and alongside the insights of the Guilty Feminist Podcast and shows. She has been managing these events on behalf of our global corporate clients since 2010.


1996-2001 The Old Spontaneity Shop

Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White form a theatre company specialising in improvisation, especially ideas and formats created by legendary guru Keith Johnstone. The company performs shows, teaches workshops and develops a following in London and in Oxford, where Deborah is studying. Deborah and Tom begin a relationship with RADA and before long many of the “core company” of players are RADA graduates. By 2000, the company is presenting shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, bringing Keith Johnstone to London to direct a show at the Hackney Empire, and staging a spectacular international tournament in Bloomsbury.

2001-2005 The Spontaneity Shop

In 2001, the name of the company was changed to The Spontaneity Shop. Our shows DreamDate, Tell Tales, Gorilla Theatre and TheatreSports (the last two presented by arrangement with the International Theatresports Institute) are very popular and we are regularly selling out London venues. Our workshop programme is expanding with three levels, hundreds of students every year, and spin-off companies forming. We are being increasingly asked to deliver training to companies and begin developing specialised syllabuses for these occasions. Alex MacLaren, who has been working with us since 1999, joins the team delivering workshops and working with corporate clients.

2005-2015 Comedy Gets Serious

We move into our new office in Camden Town and make engaging with corporate clients our priority. Our workshop programme is still active, but we are scaling back our improvised comedy shows – while at the same time, Deborah Frances-White is developing her stand-up career. In 2012, Deborah presents her stand-up show Cult Following in Edinburgh, and Tom presents his play Coalition. Deborah would go on to turn Cult Following and its successor Half a Can of Worms into an award-winning show for BBC Radio 4 and Tom would write four more plays (and counting). Tom and Deborah published their book The Improv Handbook in 2008. It is now in its second edition.

2015- Podcasts And Back To Live Comedy

In late 2015, Deborah recorded the first episode of The Guilty Feminist, which Tom produced. Live episodes of The Guilty Feminist now sell out major venues like the London Palladium and the podcast has racked up over 60 million downloads. The Spontaneity Shop stopped offering improvisation workshops in 2018 in order to focus on these new opportunities, and now publishes four different podcasts with more on the way. We are still very active in the corporate world, with Deborah regularly hosting conferences and delivering seminars on diversity and inclusion, while Tom and Alex continue working with a wide range of corporate clients on all kinds of communications issues.


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