Dudley Riggs

January 18, 1932 – September 22, 2020

Founder, Brave New Workshop, The longest running satirical sketch comedy theatre in the United States

Click below to view the December 2020 Memorial Celebration of Dudley’s Life
More on the History of the Brave New Workshop Comedy Theatre

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 63 years since its founding, the Brave New Workshop has put on more than 300 original productions and exposed over 4 million people to the theatre’s unapologetic and unwavering, brand of comedy and improvisation.

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