I had the honor of being a part of the 10th annual San Francisco Improv Festival this September with my team Glassworks. This festival was huge! Well, compared to most festivals that is. The SFIF hosted over thirty teams from across the country, featuring performers like Adsit & Eveleth, Razowsky & Hamilton, Susan Messing, Armando Diaz and more. Plus workshops! And it all happened over the span of two weeks. Yep, two weekends jam packed with top-notch performers guaranteed to make you feel some sort of way (and hopefully a bit of laughter).
The festival made its home at the Eureka Theater in the heart of San Francisco. It is an excellent theater with a capacity of over 200 people. All of the seats are fixed in place, lined with red velvet. The stage is pretty large, allowing scenes to grow with the environment whether it is a dance studio, farmstead, or food court. Though I must mention that a larger space calls for an intense focus on projection from the performers. Soft-spoken scenes were often too easy for the audience to miss.
Our team received several preparatory emails leading up to the festival, including individual board representatives to answer any and all of our questions beforehand. The fest made sure to tackle technical details a month ahead of time, which is extremely comforting for both the performers and the folks running the festival. You don’t want to be scrambling to make everything work on the night of the show. Kudos to you all at SFIF! It was our responsibility to figure out the rest of the details once we arrived in the city. Things like finding the theater, figuring out if there was anything we needed as a performer (e.g. badges, wristbands) and finding a place to sleep. I’m happy to say that we were able to complete all of these tasks on our own.
I was only there for a few nights during the second week of the festival and am sorry to say that I did not have much of a chance to meet other performers from the festival, but did have a chance to meet two of the producers, Jamie Wright and Chris Hayes. Both of them were incredibly friendly and had open arms when we needed help. The entire SFIF staff was always ecstatic, willing to help in any way they could.
Guys, the bay area is absolutely beautiful! During the day we were able to swim in the Pacific Ocean! I’m from Wisconsin, so that’s pretty special. We explored the city, ranging everywhere from the cliffs on the western shores to Haight & Ashbury to the cities surrounding the bay. Parks dotted the landscape, trees grew high into the sky and the water was clean. There’s definitely a reason that improv is deeply rooted in San Francisco. The 60’s brought The Committee and now the city has improv theaters and training grounds like Leela, EndGames, BATS, and Un-Scripted Theater.
Overall I really enjoyed my time in San Francisco! The performer wristband granted me access to EVERY SHOW, the variety of talent was incredible to watch, and the city is truly special. Do yourself a favor and check out this festival when it comes back for its 11th year! Also be sure to schedule in plenty of time to explore the area. You won’t regret it.
Elliot currently resides in Eau Claire, performing with Glassworks and helps run the festival there. He also used to operate an underground venue called “The Playhouse” in Eau Claire, running shows nearly every weekend with both musicians and improv.