Dudley Riggs

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Dudley brought not only the first espresso machine to Minnesota but also the artform of improvisation! In 1958 Dudley established his theatre company in Minneapolis. This company has brought humor and enlightenment to thousands of adults both young and old, not only from Minnesota but from around the world. Because of his legacy Minnesotans have in their own back yard a place to completely experience improvisation! Whether it be to learn and perform the artform experience of live improvisation or to attend a theatrical production comprised of comedic sketches created through improvisation! Dudley established and nurtured these cultural experiences in our state nearly 50 years ago!! A number of great national writers and performers got their start at the Brave New Workshop because of Dudley's great vision! Who knows who could be next?
~Lynn Lanners, Grand Meadow, MN

Dudley Riggs was a pioneer in the world of theatre and on the cutting edge of the artform of improvisation. He was performing improvisational theatre before it even had a name. His theatre, Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop, has been a Minnesota entertainment destination for almost 50 years, drawing in generations of Minnesota families. He founded the satirical comedy theatre with the intention of creating thought-provoking art that actually hits home and affects the audience. Through comedy, they are laughing at themselves- and with Minnesotans, that's not an easy bill of sale. So, in one of the more socially conservative states in our nation, he has created an enduring theatrical tradition of taking on all social and political issues without reservation- and the audiences continue to come. He is a Minnesota icon and the theatre he founded has endured the test of time and continues to be one of Minnesota's greatest artistic and cultural treasures. Additionally, his life before the theatre as a circus and vaudevillian performer is a fascinating tale unto itself. Dudley Riggs is one of this state's greatest treasures.
~Katy McEwen, Saint Paul, MN

Dudley Riggs was a former Barnum and Bailey trapeze artist who after falling and breaking over 40 bones, decided to pursue theatre. In the mid-50s Dudley was traveling the United States and performing a certain vaudeville, audience interactive, and improv based type of theatre he referred to as Instant Theatre. In 1958, he settled in Minneapolis and founded the Brave New Workshop Theatre. Dudley was a pioneer in the field of improvisational theatre and a true independent spirit in a relatively conservative state. Since 1958, the political and social satirical comedy that he started has continued at the historic theatre in Uptown Minneapolis. His legacy continues as the actors, writers, producers, and directors who honed their craft, wits and comedy on the BNW stage, are now deeply ingrained in the entertainment industry and among some of the most prolific talent in Hollywood today. In addition to his contribution to the national talent pool of entertainers, as the founder of the Brave New Workshop Theatre, Dudley created what is now the longest-running satirical comedy theatre in the US. And, as a pioneer in improvisation-based theatre, Dudley added his own special mix to the vibrant Twin Cities comedy and theatre scene by focusing on social, political, and satirical comedy that continues today. Dudley is a quiet, unassuming man and is often overlooked for the contributions he has made to entertainers and audiences and the theatre community in general at home in Minnesota and nationwide. Besides, who else would have brought the first espresso machine west of the Mississippi had Dudley not done so?
~Dawn Hopkins, Chaska, MN


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