Sure you can act if someone hands you a script. But how about when there isn't one? At its best, improvisational theater makes use of a whole range of techniques, and requires a huge amount of focus and cooperation between players in order for a scene to work. It's also one of the most accessible theatrical art forms for beginners to get involved with, particularly in the Bay Area. One of the newer kids on the block, EndGames Improv is nonetheless one of the most pedigreed. Offering instruction in "long form improvisation" à la Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City, EndGames Improv holds classes in four levels and stages weekly performances at Stagewerx, including its infamous "F!#&ing Free Fridays." Seven-week classes are capped at 16 participants. January is sold out, but keep an eye on the website for future dates.
$199; $225 for upper levels. www.endgamesimprov.com
They're not a stand-alone theater company, but I can't resist mentioning Dueling Arts San Francisco. Providing instruction to performing artists in a wide range of stage combat skills — including quarterstaff (what up Little John?), rapier, dagger, broadsword, and unarmed combat — the instructors of Dueling Arts are also accomplished fight directors and performers in their own right, for a diverse array of companies including IMPACT Theatre, Shotgun Players, Thrillpeddlers, ACT, Berkeley Rep, San Jose Rep, SF Playhouse, and California Shakespeare Theatre. Certification class sizes are generally between six to 12 students, and there are no prerequisites for the beginning levels.
Quarterstaff Level 1 Certification Class begins March 17, $200. www.duelingartssf.com