Burgert Kirsten

Burgert Kirsten is an Industrial Psychologist and Improvisational theatre actor/coach.   He sees himself as a connector, who facilitates people’s connection with themselves, their creativity and with one another. This serves as a solid foundation for facilitating creative group processes.   He has conducted workshops using his unique improvisational methods for large companies such as Siemens and SAB Miller, and also for small groups of teenage recovering drug addicts and youth prisoners. In the end Burgert believes that no matter who you are, all people have the desire to connect with themselves and one another. And he is passionate about facilitating this connection.

Burgert is a founding partner of Playing Mantis with Dr. Petro Janse van Vuuren. Playing Mantis uses improvisation and story strategy to develop effective coaches and facilitators, confident communicators and innovative teams.

Burgert received his master’s degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Stellenbosch in 2008.  The topic for his thesis, which he completed Cum Laude, was the influence of Improvisational Theatre exercises on an innovative team climate.  Burgert completed his Honours degree in Industrial Psychology and BA degree in communication studies at the University of the North West in Potchefstroom.  He has also studied Improvisational theatre at the IO Theatre in Chicago USA and completed a drama course presented by Brumilda Van Rensburg.

Team Innovation Coach

In his masters Burgert pioneered a team development intervention using exercises from improvisational theatre to enhance a team’s climate for innovation.  The same principles that improvisers apply to enable them to work creatively together can be applied by any team that needs to work together towards innovative results.  He has presented his Team Innovation workshops for companies such as Old Mutual, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostic and SAB Miller.

Coaching Skills Trainer

Burgert was introduced to the world of coaching during his industrial Psychology internship at British American Tobacco.  During this time he made the connection between improvisational skills and coaching skills.  Similarly to improvisational actors who collaborate spontaneously to create entertaining performances, a coach and a client co-create new possibilities. The competencies that are required of a coach bear a striking resemblance to the skills of an improviser namely, being present, listening, awareness, non-judgment, acceptance, noticing themes and openness to possibilities.  He has presented improvisational coaching skills workshops at business schools such as Wits and Gibs and at the International Coaching Federation Africa conference.

Improvisational theatre actor and coach

In 2001 Burgert cofounded Lagnes Improv Komedie, the world’s longest running Afrikaans Improvisational theatre group.  Lagnes has performed for the last 10 years all over South Africa and at arts festivals such as Aardklop.  In 2011 the first Lagnes TV series was screened on Kyknet.  Burgert has also coached and performed with Adlib Improv Society of the University of Stellenbosch.   He is part of the Applied Improvisation Network (AIN).  The AIN is an international network of 2000 members across the world, dedicated to spreading the transformational power of improvisation.  In 2011 Burgert founded the South African Applied Improvisation Network.  He also teaches courses in improvisational theatre to performers and non-performers.

Community work

Burgert has a passion for being part of healing the wounds of our broken society.  This has lead to his involvement in several community development projects.  In 2010 he co-founded the New Endings Prison Project.  This project uses Improvisational and Forum Theatre to teach life skills to youth prisoners.  The participants also perform interactive theatre pieces on the consequences of crime and drug abuse at schools in their communities as an act of restorative justice.


In 2010 Burgert married creative and quirky cook and emerging improvisation actress, Lucille.  Together they developed an Improvisation Cooking workshop for couples.  They were chosen to co present this workshop at the AIN International Conference in Amsterdam. They have twin daughters, Lila and Khari, who colour their lives with joy and improvisational challenges.


Burgert has presented workshops at the following conferences:
•     International Applied Improvisation Conference (2008, 2010),
•    Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of SA conference (2009)
•    International Creativity Conference (2010),
•    Global Coaching Community Rainbow Convention (2011)
•    International Coaching Federation Africa Conference (2011)
•    Global Alliance Summit for Ministries and Departments of Peace (2011)
• South African Innovation Summit (2012)
• South African Organisational Development Conference – Flourish! (2012)


MCom Industrial Psychology,–University of Stellenbosch.  Thesis title: The influence of a team development intervention (improvisational theatre) on climate for work group innovation (Cum Laude).

BA Hons Industrial Psychology, 2003 – North West University.

BA Communication Studies,  2002 – North West University


KIRSTEN, B., DU PREEZ, R..Improvisational theatre as team development intervention for climate for work group innovation.  SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, North America, 36, nov. 2010. Available at: http://www.sajip.co.za/index.php/sajip/article/view/862/952

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