BATS Improv is a professional theatre company and an artistic community that cultivates and innovates the craft of improvised theatre through engaging, playful, creative performance and training.
Founded in 1986, we are the most highly acclaimed and longest-running improvised theatre company and school in San Francisco and all of Northern California.
BATS Improv is more than a theatre company and a school. We are a center for improvised theatre — an integrated universe of improv. We are a community of people who share our vision, who want to challenge themselves, have fun, and connect with others who feel the same way.
The BATS style of improvised theatre is unique in the improv landscape — a one-of-a-kind blend of theatre, comedy, and acting that’s quite different from stand-up or sketch. We pioneered this form of theatre starting more than 30 years ago, and it continues to evolve as we do.
The BATS style of improv has been described as radical cooperation in action. Our ensemble of actors seamlessly works together to create a rich, theatrical world inhabited by truthfully acted, well-developed characters. The result is a unique and thrilling theatre experience that stands toe-to-toe with scripted work. The collaborative imagination can go places the solitary imagination cannot.
At BATS Improv, we’re all about the story, not the joke. We don’t have stock characters or established bits. Instead, we aim to create theatre that tells a story collaboratively and spontaneously. Nothing is ever scripted or planned, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Everything you see at BATS is completely improvised, created on the spot and in the moment. It’s real. It’s funny. It’s theatre.
Company & Theater
The members of our Main Stage Company are professional actors who are among the leading practitioners of improvised theatre in the country and the world.
Our 200-seat Bayfront Theater is a professional performance space and has been our home since 1997. It is uniquely situated on the shores of San Francisco Bay and offers spectacular views along with ample parking. We perform shows every weekend of the year and keep our ticket prices low to help make this exciting form of live theatre accessible to all audiences.
School of Improv
The BATS School of Improv is the oldest, most professional, and most respected improv school in the San Francisco Bay Area, with more than 1500 students every year. From beginner to advanced, students come from around the globe to study story-driven improv with our staff of 20 seasoned coach-performers, many of whom helped shape the Bay Area improv theatre scene. The BATS School of Improv is led by our dean, renowned improviser Dave Dennison. We offer classes in various San Francisco locations and around the Bay Area.
& Custom Entertainment
Since 1986, BATS Improv @ Work has brought the liberation and delight of improvised theatre to businesses and organizations to improve team effectiveness, unlock creativity and innovation, and build morale. We have worked with many Fortune 500 companies and major household brands. BATS Improv @ Work offers a wide range of group training and custom entertainment packages, from collaboration and communication workshops to an on-site improvised show of your choice. Our programs are all completely flexible and can be customized to meet your needs – after all, we’re experts in improvisation.
One of our core principles onstage is “Make your partner look good.” In other words, you’re not in it alone. As a nonprofit and San Francisco institution, we feel strongly about giving back to the broader community that sustains us as we build the improvised theatre community from the grassroots. For the past 15 years, we have offered free classes to people with life-threatening illnesses and their caregivers through our Laughing Stock program. Through this and our other Community Outreach Programs, BATS brings the skills and delight of improvised theatre to people throughout the Bay Area.
This agency is sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts.