Dates, Laughs set for Return of the Eau Claire Improv Fest

Barbara Arnold, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Festival director Amber Dernbach
Second from the left, Eau Claire Improv Festival director Amber Dernbach
performing with BareBones Improv

Back for more laughs amid the holidaze shopping frenzy and dysfunctional family gatherings will be the second annual Eau Claire Improv Fest from Thursday, Dec. 12, through Saturday, Dec. 14, at Memorial High School and downtown Eau Claire laughing spots. (Yes, there is a Friday the 13th show! Just imagine Santa and Freddy Krueger! Or not!) Festival director Amber Dernbach founded the event a year ago. “Improvisation is the art of making theater as you go,” Amber explained. “Suggestions are solicited from the audience, and audience members witness something being created and crafted right before their eyes. The magic is knowing it will never happen again.” A UW-Eau Claire grad and Memorial High School English and theater teacher, Amber wants to showcase the improv talent she has grown after teaching it here for the past 10 years. “Improv teams can be two or more people, and I do not use the word ‘team’ lightly,” she continued. “The best, most succinct groups have a chemistry that can only be developed through the trust and risk that comes from being a team.” Eau Claire is now home to Memorial High School Improv, the BareBones Improv Lab, Shambles, and Glassworks Improv. Some of her graduates have also become professional improv performers in larger markets. Experienced groups will perform at the Fest, and there will be some workshops for kids, teens, and adults. Right now, Amber is seeking sponsorships, so if you’d like to sponsor an improv team or a portion of the Fest, contact her at or check out