~Our mission is to~

build community through comedy

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We are a federally and state recognized 501(c)3 charity.
We believe laughter is a universal language, and that comedy is for everyone.
If you take the concept of a community theater, an improv theater, and a healthy dose of fun, and smash them together, you’ll have The Fresnel Theater. Showcasing improv comedy, scripted shows, and variety shows, we focus on giving the community the entertainment and comedy classes it needs.

Our Values


We strive to add to the existing global improv community while enriching the local community of Portland, ME through a focus on comedy and giving back.


Our goal is to empower all people, regardless of background, by building skills that teach accepting yourself and others. We believe improv accepts you for who you are and teaches you to grow from there.


Improv should be entertaining. Our goal is to make you laugh and give our audience a place where they can embrace the ideal of fun.

About Our Name

A fresnel lens, pronounced FREH-nell, is a type of lens used in lighthouses and theatrical lighting. It's used to take the smallest spark and turn it into a beacon of light. That's what we aim to do with our theater: amplify the light of our community through empowerment, enrichment, and entertainment. We feel the name suits our mission, and it's something we believe in. We're also ready to correct people when they pronounce it FREZ-nell.

Matthew Russell

Matthew Russell has been a professional improviser since 2001.
He has taught improv through ComedySportz (Sacramento, Portland, and World Championship), Northwest Children’s Theatre, American River College, and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Some of his former students have moved on to perform and teach at theatres in New York, California, and Texas- including at ComedySportz, UCB, The Pack, and with YouTube’s Smosh.
He is a Certified Applied Improv - Senior Practitioner through CSz Worldwide. Aside from improv, he is an award-winning children’s entertainer, runs his own treasure hunt business, and is the owner and founder of Questionable Trivia, an award-winning bar trivia company in Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR.

Krista Simonis

Krista has been a professional improviser since 2013, and has been “doing the make ‘em ups” since she was introduced to Viola Spolin exercises at the age of 5. She took her first improv course at Stanford in 2005. Her first job out of high school was working in the Box Office of the local professional repertory theater. It was then she developed the secret dream to open and run her own theater, and it was so ridiculous she vowed never to tell anyone about it. She took every acting class her community college offered, and got her minor in Theater from the University of California, Riverside.
She has performed as part of the Main Company at CSz Sacramento (2013-2014) and CSz Portland (2016-2017).
In 2016 she earned her MA in Organizational Communication at the University of Portland. She uses her degree and improv training to aid her every day.


We believe that comedy is for everyone, and we're committed to having our theater be a place where everyone can feel safe. Potential and current performers can check out our Code of Conduct and Grievance Reporting Procedure for more.