Company Member since 1993
Coach since 1997
Laura Derry was a scripted actor terrified of taking improv, but after her first BATS class she fell in love with improv and hasn’t left the building. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from UCSC and has trained at ACT and Berkeley Rep and in private classes with many wonderful actors and directors as well as BATS Improv.
Laura works with many diverse populations of students including middle school, high school, and adults, from beginning to advanced performance levels. She also works with existing improv groups and can be seen performing all over the Bay Area. She enjoys performing in films and YouTube videos, and doing voiceover work.
Along with being a professional improviser and actor, Laura plays improvised keyboards, directs Shakespeare and musicals, teaches acting and comedy, and is a professional pirate. She does trainings in the professional workplace and brings applied improv and communication trainings to businesses throughout the area.
Laura is also a testament to the power of improv — once incredibly shy, highly self-critical of her creativity, and scared out of her mind by the idea of doing improv, you can now see her leaping about fearlessly on stage and creating a very safe, fun space in her classes to enjoy and learn improv, which is pretty much the best thing ever.
Q & A
What was your first BATS show?
The first show I remember attending was at the performance space off of 16th and something. I don’t remember where exactly, but I remember being fierce and excited to see the show as I walked down the street and then it slowly dawned on me I was not in a great neighborhood. So I acted like I was on my way to kick someone’s ass while I surreptitiously looked for the theater. It was a Theatresports™ show, and I was sitting there in the audience, totally hooked and a huge fan of the performers and the show.
Your first improv class?
My first official improv class was a beginning BATS class, March 1991. I had done improv for my scripted acting, but had a horrible experience in high school that swore me off of improv forever. So I was scared out of my mind when I walked in the door for my first improv class. The first people I met when I walked in the room were Rebecca Stockley, the teacher, and Gerri Lawlor, a fellow student.
What are your favorite formats?
I love both longform and shortform (Theatresports, Director’s Cut) formats. I love singing and Shakespeare and the Harold. I love just about all the formats we do.
Best moment on the BATS stage?
There have been so many moments! I get to play with the most fun people in the world — usually in every show something happens that is completely delightful.
Any improv advice?
I do my best when I relax and allow myself to make a lot of mistakes. I do my worst when I try to be good — I freeze up, judge myself, become hesitant. By allowing myself to make mistakes, I feel fearless and confident, able to do anything. I do my best to be fun to play with, and take care of my partners. Basically all the things you learn when you start out doing improv.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pirates of the Caribbean, Master and Commander, The Fifth Element, Shakespeare in Love, The Princess Bride, The Man from Snowy River, and many others
I love to dance. I love to sing. So most music makes me happy, especially dance music and electronica. My iPod is packed full of wonderful music of all kinds.
Angels in America, Burn This, Waiting for Godot, The Music Man