Coach since 2013
Lisa Safran began studying theatre at the ACT Young Conservatory. She went on to train at Jean Shelton Studios and then attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Shortly after returning to San Francisco, Lisa began studying improvisation with Jim Cranna. She went on to perform with several improv groups around the Bay Area until she shifted her attention to stand-up comedy for several years, performing at odd little clubs around the U.S. and Canada.
Lisa began teaching elementary school and developed programs for children that used improvisation to support literacy, which really took form while teaching overseas in Thailand. In 2007, Lisa returned to San Francisco and joined the improvisation troupe the Too Many Larrys! and also began studying at BATS Improv.
In 2010 Lisa began presenting her findings on improvisation and literacy at conferences and published, Reading and Writing Come Alive: Using Improvisation to Build Literacy. In 2011, she founded Improv Consultants, a group of creative professionals who provide engaging and enjoyable experiential programs for educators, businesses, and organizations using improvisation.
Lisa is a self-taught musician and in 2010 produced Dreams That Matter, a CD of original music performed by her band the Bitter Mystics. She is currently collaborating with David Norfleet on an album of children’s music.
Q & A
What do you like about improv?
I love that I get to keep learning and finding ways to incorporate it into my life and work. I love the emphasis on making your partner look good — the getting out of self and seeing what we can do for others is brilliant and something I continue to work on.
What was your first BATS Show?
I honestly don’t remember, but I think it was quite a while ago and before the theatre had its makeover. Seeing my first longform was in 2007, and I was blown away.
Your first improv class?
What are your favorite formats?
Longform and longform! Having a theatrical background, I am drawn to the stageplay-like qualities and am mesmerized by how all the details tend to fall into place!
Favorite moment on the BATS stage?
One of my favorite performing moments was during Cave Match when I was in a chase scene with my partner in crime and two “bad” guys chasing us. First there was a car chase with shooting out the window and while climbing on the roof, then there was a shootout behind a big boulder, next we were on a plane where I found a gun hidden in the restroom up in the ceiling but the “bad” guy ended up being victorious by killing me with a toilet plunger.
Why should people study improv?
Why not study improv? Improvisation teaches flexibility and agility. It strengthens communication and capacity for leadership. I apply improvisation daily and fail daily at applying it. What I love about improvisation is that each failure is an opportunity and when looked at through that lens, it isn’t a failure at all. My entire work life is all about improvisation — from coaching at BATS to working with individuals on presentation skills to designing and delivering corporate and school trainings.
Any improv advice?
Try it at least once if not a thousand times.