A BRAVE NEW (AND OLD) HISTORY

   

The Brave New Workshop has been performing original satirical sketch comedy and improvisation since 1958, longer than any other theatre in the United States. The Brave New Workshop began after Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus aerialist Dudley Riggs survived a near-fatal fall from a trapeze. He decided, for obvious reasons, to move to a less risky career and started his own “Instant Theatre Company” with a cast assembled from the circus and vaudeville circuits.

They 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.” That was the beginning of comedic improvisation, as it’s 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. Since the beginning, the Brave New Workshop has made its home on Hennepin Avenue – first in the original East Hennepin location, then in uptown from 1961-2010, and now in our state of the art downtown facility. In the more than 55 years since its founding, the Brave New Workshop has put on more than 290 original productions and exposed over 3 million people to the theatre’s unapologetic and unwavering, brand of comedy and improvisation.

Dudley Riggs Founder of Brave New Workshop
More About Dudley Riggs

1932

Dudley Riggs is born!
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1954

The Instant Theatre is founded in New York City.
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1958

Dudley Riggs brings his "Instant Theatre Company" to the Cafe Espresso.
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1961

The name Brave New Workshop is added.
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1965

Tickets are $2
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1966

The "All Dirty Revue" launches to great success!
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1967

"The Race Riot Review: Hate is a Summer Festival"
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1970

"Charlie! Or Manson Ate Grapes"
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1971

Dudley opens a second theatre, the Experimental Theatre Company, at 1430 Washington Avenue.
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1972

The mid-70s brings new opportunities to the Brave New Workshop.
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1975

The Fourth Annual New Years Eve Party at the Brave New Workshop.
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1978

"Atheism Means Never Having To Say You’re Lutheran"
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1983

"I Compute, Therefore IBM"
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1985

We're pretty sure that something happened in the 80's, but we can't remember it.
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1987

"Fixing Men, A Women's Guide to Home Repair" hits the BNW stage.
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1990

The Brave New Workshop has a milestone birthday celebrating their 25th year.
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1991

Dudley decides to close the Experimental Theatre Company and consolidates all theater operations.
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1993

1993 sees "Mad In The USA: Riot You'll Like It" debuts at the Brave New Workshop.
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1995

"No Newt is Good Newt; The Congressional Follies"
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1997

In 1997, Dudley Riggs passes along his theatre to a new generation of owners, John Sweeney and Jenni Lilledahl.
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1998

Celebrating it's 40th Anniversary, the Brave New Workshop moves to Calhoun Square.
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1999

The Brave New Institute grows to 200 students a week!
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2001

The Brave New Workshop renovates the historic Palace Theatre for performing.
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2002

Home sweet home for Brave New Workshop. BNW loads up the family car and leaves Calhoun Square.
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2003

The show "Total Recall 2: The Governator" takes 2003 by surprise.
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2004

"Das Bootylicious or Women of Mass Destruction" takes the stage.
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2005

2005 marks the Brave New Workshop's 250th original show (based on our estimate).
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2007

Brave New Workshop celebrate the fourth printing of "Innovation at the Speed of Laughter: 8 Secrets to World-Class Idea Generation"
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2008

The Brave New Workshop turns 50.
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2010

New growth means new names.
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2011

A new home on theatre row!
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2013

“I Saw Daddy Marry Santa Claus” is the BNW’s 2013 holiday show.
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2014

Final and fond farewell to the 2605 Hennepin Avenue location.
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2015

"The Innovative Mindset" is released.
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