Dudley Riggs

Excerpts from Brave New Workshop:

Hennepin Theater Trust’s resident theatre troupe, Brave New Workshop at the Dudley Riggs Theater, brings the vaudeville style of entertainment into the 21st Century. Dudley Riggs, a fifth-generation circus aerialist who performed all over the globe, originally founded The Brave New Workshop as the “Instant Theatre Company.” Riggs assembled and led a talented group of writers and performers intending to make people think by first making them laugh. The company opened off-Broadway with a show consisting of vaudeville-style sketches, burlesque blackouts and something completely new: the use of audience input in the creation of “instant theatre.” This “theatre without a net” would be the beginning of comedic improvisation as it is widely known today. After touring nationally, Dudley and his “Instant Theatre Company” found a permanent home in the Twin Cities in 1958 and the name Brave New Workshop was added in 1961. In 1997, John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl purchased the Brave New Workshop from Dudley Riggs as co-owners to ensure long-term sustainability and honor the unique history of the theater. In 2021, Brave New Outpost became its own company. Hennepin Theatre Trust purchased the Brave New Workshop and the downtown facility (824 Hennepin) to steward the theatre’s rich world-class sketch comedy and improv tradition.

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