BATS Improv

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Presenting laugh-out-loud improvisational theatre since 1986

BATS Improv, a non-profit education and performance theatre company, has entertained Bay Area audiences since 1986. Our unique style of acting-based improvisational theatre has made BATS the Bay Area's largest improv theatre company and school and is a benchmark for improv all over the world.

BATS takes its inspiration from the work of Theatresports creator Keith Johnstone and from San Francisco's own tradition of experimental improvisation. With an emphasis on story, BATS stands out from the average "comedy improv" seen in bars and on television - BATS continuously pushes the envelope, exploring both short and long-form improv theatre.

BATS is in residence at the 200-seat Bayfront Theater at historic Fort Mason Center in San Francisco and performs year round.

In addition, BATS runs a successful corporate training program, presents improv in schools as a popular participant in the Bay Area's Young Audiences program, and provides improv workshops through its Laughing Stock program to people living with HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, cancer, and other chronic, life-threatening illness.

BATS Improv Show Calendar for all information on Performances

About BATS

Mission Statement

• Perform, teach, develop, and promote improvisational theatre

• Be loose and have fun

• Create phenomenal improv

• Run fast to help audience, students, and clients

• Create strong and exciting improvisers

• Entertain and surprise audiences and ourselves

• And give generously to others

Core Values

  • Improv – We love the art and practice of improvising.
  • Telling Stories – We focus our work on discovering and telling stories.
  • Fun – We delight in the enjoyment of ourselves, our audience, our coaches, our staff, our clients, and our students.
  • Inspirational Environment – We foster trust, generosity, and shared vision to create a fun place to perform, teach, and learn improvisational theatre.
  • Risk Taking – We encourage innovation through experimentation, boldness and variety in our work, performances and formats.
  • Excellence – We expect each performer, coach, student and staff member to reach their own highest level of success.
  • Financial Stability – We enable the growth of our self-supporting organization through our theater and school.


BATS-style improv is theatre that tells a story collaboratively. From comedy to drama, short scenes to full length epics these stories engage and entertain audiences with rich characters and relationships.


About BATS Classes

Whether you're an actor working to enhance your performance skills or someone who thinks that improv just looks like fun, BATS Improv has a class for you. New workshops, designed for a variety of skill levels, start each month, year-round.

Over the past 30 years, BATS has gained a reputation as one of the best schools of improvisational theatre anywhere in the world. The classes attract students from all over the Bay Area, throughout the United States, and as far away as Australia, England, and Japan.

Classes are small and provide individual attention from experienced coaches. In fact, we believe that the BATS coaching staff is one of the best collections of improv teaching talent anywhere in the world!

For students who want to perform on the BATS stage, completion of our series classes may lead to an invitation to join a student performance program. BATS also offers classes for students who just want to explore improv, but don't want to perform. And for experienced improvisers, BATS offers specialty classes and advanced training.

Who takes our classes? Professional actors, lawyers, doctors, architects, lobbyists, greeting card writers, reporters, hermits, firemen. You name it, they all spent time in a BATS workshop.

Curriculum & Teaching Philosophy

BATS take its inspiration from the work of Keith Johnstone and from BATS' own 20-year tradition of innovation and experimentation. We use Johnstone's Theatresports format as a cornerstone of our curriculum because we believe it provides a solid foundation on which to build skills.

Improv training is a core element of the BATS organization. From our founding in 1986, we have always viewed workshops as the key way to develop new talent and expose more people to the transformative qualities of improvisational theatre. We have 20 years of experience teaching improv and believe that this history makes the quality of our program one of the best around.

BATS series classes -- Foundation 1, 2, 3 and Performance 1, 2, 3 -- all have course outlines, but there is not a "cookie cutter" approach to the curriculum. There are hundreds of theatre games that teach BATS' basic concepts of improv. Rather than limiting a coach to a set list of exercises that teach BATS' ideas, coaches are encouraged to use the exercise that serves the needs of the students in the moment.

Common understanding of key theory elements is important for BATS students. The same theories, principles and ideas will be covered in each Foundation and Performance class, regardless of the teacher.

While BATS coaches are expected to be prepared with a course outline of exercises, teachers are encouraged to work spontaneously with each class. By practicing spontaneity in teaching, each workshop models the best improv practices.

While our curriculum is performance-based training, we also believe that learning improvisational theatre skills—listening, making your partner look good, failing good-naturedly, taking risks—can have a positive impact on people’s lives beyond the stage: at home, work, and in interpersonal relationships.

Coach Evaluations

After each workshop, students are asked to fill out an evaluation of the coach and curriculum. The dean and the coach review evaluations and modifications are made based on feedback.

Class Schedules

The Players

2020 Mainstage Company

Rafe Chase Dave Dennison Laura Derry Zoe Galvez William Hall Ethan Karson Paul Killam Kasey Klemm Jason Leal Kimberly MacLean Jenny Meyer-Rosen Tim Orr Rebecca Poretsky John Remak Ken Robertson Corey Rosen Lisa Rowland Regina Saisi Rebecca Stockley


Joshua Raoul Brody, Musical Director

David Norfleet, Richard Leiter, Steve Kirk, Jerome Rossen, Win Myerson, Juno Hassid, Jerome Rossen

Main Stage Company Alumni

Ed Alter, Gary Barth, Kurt Bodden, Dave Bushnell, Curt Butz, James Campbell, Lex Chesler, Richard Dupell, Tim Ereneta, Jennifer Fairbanks*, Cully Fredrickson, Naomi Freier, Amos Glick, Carol Hazenfield, John X. Heart, Ellen Idelson*, Stephen Kearin, Dan Klein, Rachel Klem, Kat Koppett, John Kovacevich, Gerri Lawlor*, Drew Letchworth, Tony Lijphart, Kirk Livingston, Brian Lohmann, Bob Martin, Dan O'Connor, Jay Parks, Larry Pisoni, Greg Proops, Diane Rachel, Reed Kirk Rahlmann, Barbara Scott, Pamela Stoneham, Chris Thompson, Sylvia Tucker


Contact Information


The Bayfront Theater at Fort Mason Center

Building B on the third floor

B350 Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, California 94123

Phone: 415-474-6776

Directions to The Bayfront


Managing Director: Hannah Henderson

@ Work Sales Associate: Corey Rosen

Community and Communications Coordinator: Eteya Trinidad

Production Supervisor: Hillary Dadio-Perrone

Theater Rentals and Group Sales: Chris Steele

Office Manager: Genele Egea


Artistic Director: Ken Robertson

Musical Director: Joshua Raoul Brody

BATS Improv School Administration

Dean: Dave Dennison

Laughing Stock

Director: Ann Feehan

Board of Directors

President: Christina McFadden

Members: Ted DesMaisons, Jason Kim, Archana Ojha, LIsa Wowland, Erin Daruszka, Chris Sams, Rebecca Poretsky, Kirk Livingston