Improv comedy was born when a procrastinating Shakespeare forced his actors to wing the last two acts of the original production of King Lear, with hilarious results. Embrace spontaneity with today's Groupon: for $10, you get two tickets to an improv comedy show at Pan Theater (a $24 value). This deal applies to all Friday and Saturday shows.
East Bay's oldest improv theater and second-largest theater school, the Pan Theater has been ad-libbing its way to acclaim since 2002. During each show, audience suggestions lead improvisers to create unique scenes and characters off the top of their specially elongated heads. Say What? (Saturdays at 8 p.m.) features house troupe Awkward Face playing Whose Line Is It Anyway –style theater games, and Tonight's Town (Fridays at 8 p.m.) presents fellow Pan troupe The Afters in an improv directed by a crowd-suggested theme. Awkward Face also revels in glorious paradox by telling the story of their improvised mini-play The Untold Story (Saturdays at 9 p.m.). Performers hail from diverse backgrounds, including training with heavy-hitting guffaw gurus, the Upright Citizens Brigade. Show times and themes vary.
Located one block from BART in Oakland's distinctive Uptown neighborhood, the Pan Theater's tucked-away setting establishes an intimate tone for the evening. The bare-bones stage and simple lighting put the emphasis on the performers, while the venue's small size lends immediacy to each show. Shy types and the witness-protected should have no fear, though, as actors refuse to create comedy at the expense of guests and never ask audience members onstage unless they volunteer.
- Pan Theater is fantastic! I think its really cool that we have improv performances every weekend right here in Oakland. Every show I've been to, the actors have been talented, have had a great rapport with the rest of the performers, and really had a great time on stage. – Avi W., Yelp
- The building is funky, but in a cool way that makes you feel like you are discovering a secret gem. And you are. The main performing troupes are consistently funny and original in their Friday and Saturday night shows. – Sam W., Yelp
The Pan Theater is an East Bay improv theater and acting school that hosts gut-busting shows from teams culled from its professional training center. Performers entreat audiences for the evening’s theme during shows on Friday and Saturday nights, inciting laugh riots with unscripted scenes that will never be seen again.
The theater's improv acting classes cycle through intense scene work and the emotion-based exercises of Sanford Meisner, a revered acting instructor and forgettable squash player. Four times a year, a free sample improv class shepherds students through the basics of improv with introductory games including Sound Ball and Zip Zap Zop.