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PRESS RELEASE: SF/Helsinki Improv Festival Opens June 1, 2008

Release date: 5/15/2008

Festival to Feature Leading Improv Troupes from the Bay Area and Finland

San Francisco (May 15, 2008)—BATS Improv today announced the San Francisco / Helsinki Improv Festival, to be held at Fort Mason Center's Bayfront Theater June 1-7, 2008. The festival will feature Finland's premier improv troupe—Stella Polaris—performing alongside top Bay Area ensembles True Fiction Magazine, 3 FOR ALL, and BATS Improv.

The kickoff performance begins Sunday, June 1 at 7pm, with a performance comprising members of Stella Polaris, BATS Improv, and top students from BATS' training center. The festival's "Main Events" begin Wednesday, June 4, starting with a joint performance of Stella Polaris and True Fiction Magazine, followed by a Stella Polaris / 3 FOR ALL performance on Thursday, June 5, and Friday/Saturday (June 6-7) performances pairing Stella Polaris and members of the BATS Improv Main Stage Company. All main event performances begin at 8pm.

"We are thrilled to have Stella Polaris share our stage at the Bayfront," said BATS executive director Brent Sverdloff. "Their history is very similar to ours, in that the majority of Finnish improvisers first learned their skills through Stella Polaris, just as BATS instruction typically dominates the backgrounds of most Bay Area improvisers. We can't wait to offer these very special performances to the many students and fans of improvised theatre."

Barbara Scott, co-founder of True Fiction Magazine, added, "This visit [from Stella Polaris] is a dream come true; True Fiction has performed with them in Europe four times since 1997, often with guest players from both 3 FOR ALL and BATS Improv in tow. But this will be our first co-production in the United States, and we plan to make their visit as memorable as ours have been abroad."

Stella Polaris' performances with each True Fiction Magazine and 3 FOR ALL will follow the signature formats employed by the latter ensembles-True Fiction's pulp-style long-form, with multiple story lines intersecting throughout, and 3 FOR ALL's blend of short scenes and longer stories highlighting the performers' unique and wildly popular chemistry. The weekend shows with BATS Improv will feature both ensembles playing a Theatresports™ match in the first half, followed by a long-form performed by Stella Polaris.

Tickets for the June 1 performance are $10 in advance through BATS Improv's website (www.improv.org) or $12 at the door; all remaining performances are priced at $15 advance / $18 door.

About Stella Polaris
Stella Polaris (www.stella-polaris.fi), established in 1990, is Finland's leading improv theatre. Its performers, professional actors in theatre, film, TV, and radio, have trained in the US, Canada, Norway, Holland, Germany and Belgium, as well as their homeland. The company also provides improv training for organizations, other theatres, and educational institutions. Stella Polaris regularly explores and develops different forms of improvisation, and travels around the world to perform in various international festivals.

About True Fiction Magazine
San Francisco's True Fiction Magazine (www.truefictionmagazine.com) continues to push the envelope of improvisation, exploring new and exciting styles of storytelling. A TFM performance is a full evening of spontaneous theatre, as the troupe takes titles suggested by the audience and creates stories which move forward and backward in time, interweave and intersect, until the final resolution. Of over 6,000 stories told, they've never repeated one. Each show is unique: it has never been seen before and will never be seen again. TFM's inspiration is the hard-bitten, emotion-driven fiction found in the pulp stories of the 30s and 40s, tempered by their own comic sensibilities, resulting in a myriad of unusual characters and the worlds they live in.

About 3 FOR ALL
3 FOR ALL (www.3forall.com), comprised of critically acclaimed improvisers Rafe Chase, Stephen Kearin, and Tim Orr, creates a unique blend of intensely dramatic and outrageously funny, completely improvised scenes based on audience suggestions and have done so since 1996. 3 FOR ALL is driven by the artistic principle that the improvisation takes place "on a stage with no rules". In their performances, the improvisers hit the stage with no script, no preconceptions, and no safety net. Based on the simple suggestion of a title of "a movie that's never been made." Their long-form story may be funny, sad, adventurous, poignant; more often than not, they embody all of these qualities. The three actors, along with the music and lighting improvisers, work together to weave theatrical stories with scope, drama, and depth rarely seen in the world of improvisation.

About BATS Improv
Acclaimed by critics as "bounce-in-your seat funny" and "San Francisco's premiere improvisational theater," BATS Improv (www.improv.org) has been a leader in the Bay Area's innovative improv theatre scene for nearly twenty years. Fifty weeks a year, BATS presents a series of completely improvised shows in a variety of formats-from comic competitions to improvised musicals and everything in between. BATS has also gained a reputation as one of the best schools of improvisational theatre anywhere in the world, and offers improv classes and workshops to individuals, corporations, non-profits and other groups. BATS attracts students from all over the United States, and as far away as Australia, England, and Japan. Additionally, BATS offers free improvisation classes through its "Laughing Stock" program to people living with HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, cancer, and other chronic, life-threatening illnesses. Classes focus on strengthening quality of life through humor, physical activity, group interaction, risk-taking, and imagination games.

BATS has also gained a reputation as one of the best schools of improvisational theatre anywhere in the world, and offers improv classes and workshops to adults, kids, corporations, non-profits and other groups. BATS attracts students from all over the United States, and as far away as Australia, England, and Japan.

Additionally, BATS offers free improvisation classes through its Laughing Stock program to people living with HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis C, cancer, and other chronic, life-threatening illnesses. Classes focus on strengthening quality of life through humor, physical activity, group interaction, risk-taking, and imagination games.