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  • Nov 12 2014

    AUDITION LIKE A CHAMP - By Rachael Mason

    Rachael Mason wants you to rock at your next improv audition. As the head of The Second City Training Center’s Chicago Advanced Improv program, a Second City TourCo Alum and current cast member of ‘The Boys’ at 9pm in Donny’s Skybox - you should take her advice. If you have questions, comments or want to add a tip of your own, email us at Chicagotrainingcenter@secodcity.com

    1. WARM UP BEFORE YOU ARRIVE! Some folks need to meditate for 20 minutes and some folks need to do 20 jumping jacks. Do what centers YOU. The warm up when you arrive is mostly to suss out the group you will be playing with if you even get to warm up at all.

    2. SHOW UP ON TIME. There is a saying that 15 minutes early is on time. On time is late. 15 minutes late? Don't bother. Leave early. Set two alarms. Everyone has a good reason for being late but it simply smacks of disrespect to those who are there and ready to work.

    3. BE KIND TO THE PERSON CHECKING YOU IN. Really you should just be kind in general. If you are a jerk to the person checking you in then why would we want to hire you for a high stakes ensemble job? That person has been inundated with requests. Yours will be prioritized. Relax about that. And watch with the crap talk about other theaters in the lobby too. We all work everywhere. Why would we hire you if you are pooping on another theater?

    4. LOOK IN A MIRROR BEFORE YOU GO IN. You might have crazy hair, lipstick on your teeth, pizza sauce on your lapel, or heaven forbid your barn door might be open. Zip it up zippy. I personally can't stand when someone has a ball cap on or sunglasses on their head or collar. You should be dressed nice so you feel good. Take one final look at your suit (that musty thing should have been laundered) or one final peek at your dress (that you can move in with bike shorts or leggings underneath). Look good = Feel good.

    5. LISTEN TO THE AUDITOR'S INSTRUCTIONS. They are TELLING you what they want to see and describing the shape of the audition. If you are planning out your funny line or listening to your inner monologue you are going to miss valuable information. Calm down and listen.

    6. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SCENE PARTNER. Throwing elbows for funny lines is not what gets you hired. Yes anding and heightening what is there does. Your repartee and game play with your partner are what we want. Listen and respond as opposed to panicked reaction. Be people in a relationship, who feel a way about each other and the world they live in. Then play some games together. Comedy is a natural byproduct of that. Not your inorganic stabs at funny that crap on your partner. Don't crap on your partner... not even an object work crap.

    7. DON'T MAKE AN ASS OUT OF YOURSELF AT THE ALE HOUSE (or similar bar). Your audition is over. Whether it went well or not so well our temptation is to head across the street and toast those feelings away. Word of your drunken mess gets back to us too. Have a drink. Go home. Sleep. Wait patiently for the response. If you get in GREAT! Now it only gets harder. If you didn't GREAT! Now you can write in for you notes and take a class and get better.

    Ready? Go kill it killer. - Rachael

    About Rachael:

    Rachael Mason began her career in improvisation at Skidmore College, home of the National College Comedy Festival, with the Ad-Liberal Artists. After graduating with a degree in English Literature, concentrating on Shakespearean Studies, she moved to Chicago to study improv comedy with Del Close. She trained at The Second City, The Annoyance, and iO. Currently she performs with The Second City Improv Allstars, and The Boys. She is most happy when she is teaching improv.

    11/12/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 30 2014

    SC Toronto Training Centre: 5th Annual Fall Ball: Nov 8th

    Join us for our 5th Annual Fall Ball happening Saturday, November 8th at 9pm.

    Students and friends of students are invited to get dolled up in their best party clothes and join us for a night of laughs, prizes, food and one crazy dance party!

    The night starts off with a talent show at 9pm in the JCB featuring hilarious, dramatic and musical acts by some of The Training Centre's students, grads, faculty and alumni.

    After the show follow us to the Charlotte room (19 Charlotte St) where the party really gets going. We'll have food, drink specials, great prizes and one crazy dance party with Dj Josh Murray!

    Tickets ($5) on sale now at the front desk of The Training Centre.

    This is going to be a great night! See you there!


    10/30/2014 Comments (0)
  • Oct 30 2014

    The Power of Creating Your Own Work: An Interview with Ithamar Enriquez

    Written by Christa Nannos

    The Second City Alum, Ithamar Enriquez, has created his own, one-man show called, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say, and though he doesn’t say a single word throughout the show, he captivates the audience with body language, music, and impeccable characterizations. Having moved to LA a few years ago, he quickly realized the benefits of creating his own work. I had the privilege of interviewing Ithamar to get the inside scoop on the show, and to hear how much he does, in fact, have to say about his creative process and advice for upcoming comedians.

    CN: What was your inspiration behind the show?

    IE: This type of work is something I’ve always been drawn to. Since I was a kid I really loved all the physical comedians. Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, and, of course, Mr. Bean who is a huge influence. I remember seeing Rowan Atkinson’s One Man Show on video, and that changed everything. There are a couple of scenes in that show where he doesn’t speak, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, you can actually do this’. Once I started getting more into sketch and improv, I tried to figure out ways I can create sketches that aren’t typical. Physical sketches, musical sketches. So this show has been in the back of my brain for a very long time.

    CN: Why is it so important to create your own work?

    IE: Once I got to LA, I realized it’s very easy to sit back and ask why certain things aren’t happening for you as an actor. ‘Why aren’t I getting an audition? Why aren’t I booking the role’? So the cure for that was to write my own show. As an actor you literally have to create your own job out here. So I decided to write this show. I knew it would be a challenge and really fun, and it’s been all those things. The very first version of the show was 25 minutes long. And since then it’s grown into a 50-minute version and now we’re also working on a web series. In the past year I have worked on it creatively and now see more doors opening for me as well as opportunities for it to be exposed to a bigger audience.

    CN: Your characters never speak in the show but are extremely physical. How did you train for this show?

    IE: By watching those who did it before me. I always tell students, when you’re in this work you have to throw yourself in completely. Watch every movie, read every book, do anything and everything that has to deal with comedy. It really makes me sad when I mention Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy, and students will have no idea who I’m talking about. If you don’t know those people you should not be doing comedy. You can take every class in the world that you want, but if you’re not throwing yourself into this world and making it your life, then you’re not going to benefit from it. I think that’s what I’ve always done.

    CN: What came first, the music or the characters?

    IE: It depends. Sometimes I would think of a funny, physical bit and then try to find the perfect piece of music that would try to fit that. There’s one scene I do with a puppet, and at first that scene had a completely different song. By the time it got to the show I changed the song, knowing the bit wouldn’t change that much. For another scene I knew I wanted to do something to the song “White Rabbit” because it’s such a weird and funny song with such a great build, so the bit came after the song.

    CN: How did you come up with your bits? Did any of them come from real life experiences?

    IE: I think just like any show, some of it comes from personal observation, and some of it comes from just sitting and brainstorming ideas. I think Jazz Face came from noticing how people react to Jazz music. And then the Luchador scene is basically what I was doing as a kid. I’ve always loved wrestling and Luchador masks, so that scene was inspired from that.

    CN: You tackle so many variations of body language and physical movements in this piece; you really stretch the audience’s imagination and change all expectations of what might happen next. Was it difficult coming up with so much diverse physicality?

    IE: When you give yourself the task of coming up with a 50 minute show where you can’t speak, you have no choice but to vary it up. Just like a standard sketch show will have blackouts, some political stuff and relationship scenes, I had to translate that into a show where I didn’t speak. Some of the scenes have to be high energy, some of them, a little bit smaller. For some of it you use other parts of your body, ‘Oh, cool! I’ll use my hands and only my hands’. Some scenes you play multiple characters and some you just play one character. And variation in music. Making sure I’m hitting a bunch of different time periods. For the most part my taste tends to be really, really old. So I thought ‘Ah, I should throw some Daft Punk in there’.

    CN: I love how you use some improv, and audience participation in the show. Why did you decide to layer in that art form, and did you find it difficult?

    IE: It was another challenge for me. Can I do pieces that are improvised while not speaking? So I came up with this scene that is mad-libs like, where the audience gives me suggestions and then I act it out. Here’s the thing: I love this type of work so much that I can sit and think about it forever and still come up with ways to do the things that standard comedy shows have, but without speaking.

    CN: Can you tell me a little about the web series idea?

    IE: It follows a curious, whimsical character as he experiences life without speaking. Frank Caeti (director of the live show) and I are writing and producing it along with Maker Studios, Principato Young Entertainment, and Key and Peele. Some of it is taken directly from the live show, and some of it has been written exclusively for the web series. This character experiences everything from a hipster coffee shop to a jazz club to his thoughts that wander when he’s at a laundromat.

    CN: Ithamar Has Nothing to Say is a one-man show, but how important was it to have a creative team to collaborate with, such as working with your director, Frank Caeti?

    IE: Once I knew I wanted to do this show, there was no question in my mind who I wanted to direct it. Frank and I have known each other for so long, and we’ve been working together for so long that it’s such a great, fun, working relationship. He is so smart when it comes to comedy. He’s such a good director because he’s such an amazing performer and writer. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do this without him.

    CN: Can you give some advice to upcoming comedians who might want to create a one-man show but don’t know where to start, and who want to get seen more but are afraid of failing? What are some things you learned during your process of creating, Ithamar Has Nothing to Say?

    IE: First thing I’d say is you have to see a lot of comedy and do a lot of comedy. There’s something to be said about creating your own work. Taking all of the stuff that you’ve learned, and really going out there and writing something for yourself. I remember watching this documentary about comedy, and the one thing that remained constant was everyone saying, ‘The whole time we were writing, we were just writing to make ourselves laugh’. Trust your own comedic instinct and just try it. Don’t be afraid of it failing because the good thing about it not working is that you figure out a way to make it work. Give yourself the opportunity to try it somewhere in front of people. You have to be willing to throw yourself out there without a net. Otherwise you won’t succeed and you won’t create. Also know that you’re never done with something you create. There’s always stuff to work around with and a year from now who knows where this show will be? Maybe I’ll be in another show where I’m talking non-stop. You just never know what’s ahead. So do the thing that you’re excited about now and trust that it’s going to grow into something else and might lead you in other directions.

    ITHAMAR HAS NOTHING TO SAY can be seen every Saturday at 8pm through Dec 20th at Second City Hollywood.

    TICKETS

    The Second City Studio Theatre is located at 6560 Hollywood Blvd. LA, CA 90028

    10/30/2014 Comments (0)
  • Sep 15 2014

    Wellness Week Schedule

    Click Here to Register for Wellness Week

    WHAT IS WELLNESS WEEK?
    Congress established National Mental Health Awareness Week 24 years ago in 1990 due to the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an organization we recently sponsored.

    During this week, October 5th-October 11th, mental health advocates and non health-based organizations (LIKE US!) across the U.S. join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses such as anxiety. We are hosting events because of our growing Wellness Program which includes Improv for Anxiety (IFAX), Improv for ASD, and Humor Doesn’t Retire: Improv for Older Adults.

    We are providing opportunities to show what we are doing with our program and invite the public to participate in and learn about Improv! We hope that everyone will take this opportunities to simply connect, take risks, and try something new in an open, safe environment. Challenge yourself to "Yes, And" a new experience!
    The Second City Training Center is excited to share our unique philosophy centered on connecting with others and building ensemble. Come play with us!

    All events free and open to the public. Ages: High School and up

    10/5/2014, 5:00-6:30PM, Room 301
    Hannah Bailey
    Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) for Actors

    10/6/2014, 10am-1pm, Room 405

    Piero Procaccini
    Intro to Improvisation: Improv Basics for Beginners

    10/6/2014, 6pm-6:50pm, Room 403

    Becca Barish & Mark Pfeffer
    Intro to Improv for Anxiety

    10/7/2014, 5:00-6:50pm, Room 305

    Janna Sobel
    Storytelling & The Gift of the Truth

    10/8/2014, 12:00-2:00pm, Donny's Skybox
    Stephanie McCullough Vlcek
    Singing Against the Darkness

    10/8/2014, 4:00-6:00pm, DeMaat Theatre
    Rachael Mason & Jeff Bouthiette
    Self Discovery through Improvised Song

    10/8/2014, 6:00-6:50pm, DeMaat Theatre
    Aaron Graham
    Making & Faking Confident Choices in Music Improv

    10/8/2014, 6:00-6:50pm, Room 403
    Molly Fisher & Nick Johne
    Intro to Improv for Aspies and Individuals with
    Autism Spectrum & Similar Disorders
    10/9/2014, 5:00-6:50pm, Room 301
    Lynda Tourloukis
    Laughter Yoga Workshop

    10/10/2014, 9:00am-11am, Room 301
    Ruth Williams Hennessy
    Whole Body Voice Workshop

    10/10/2014, 10:00am-11am, Donny's Skybox
    Lauren Dowden
    Improv for Older Adults- Presentation & Play

    10/10/2014, 11:15am-12pm, Room 305
    Susan Messing & Rachael Mason
    I'Mprovising Right

    10/10/2014, 12:00pm-1:00pm, Room 305
    Ashley Nicole Black
    Getting Past Writer's Block
    Participants: Please bring a pen and a notebook
    10/10/2014, 1:00-3:00pm, Room 305
    John Hildreth
    Scenic Improv

    10/10/2014, 3:00-4:00pm, Donny's Skybox
    Jim Winter
    The "Sense" of Humor

    10/10/2014, 4:00-6pm, UP COMEDY CLUB Showcase and Reception
    WELLNESS WEEK SHOWCASE
    Director: Nick Johne

    Doors open at 4pm
    Lights up at 4:15pm
    Host: Ashley Nicole Black
    Sorry Bouts featuring Erin Lann & Brooke Montoya
    Therapy Players
    Wellness Program Ensemble

    5:00-6:00pm Reception: Free Appetizers and Beverages

    10/11/2014, 9:00-9:50am, Room 301
    Hannah Bailey
    Vinyasa Yoga Class
    Participants: Please feel free to bring your own yoga mat!

    9/15/2014 Comments (0)
  • Aug 1 2014

    Second City's Bob Curry Fellowship featured on ABC7's Heart and Soul Special

    ABC 7 featured Second City's Bob Curry Fellowship in its Heart and Soul segment, which aired on July 26. While The Second City has long had an Outreach and Diversity program, this year it launched the Bob Curry Fellowship, a free fellowship for diverse actors.The segment features the head of Second City's Outreach and Diversity program, Dionna Griffin-Irons, and gives an inside look at the program and the 16 actors within it. The Second City will offer the fellowship again in 2015.


    8/1/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 22 2014

    The Second City Chicago Training Center to Double its Pipers Alley Footprint

    The Second City, Inc. announced today the signing of a lease with Old Town Development Associates, L.L.C., to expand into additional space at Pipers Alley (230 W. North Avenue) formerly occupied by the four-screen AMC movie theater. The new space will allow The Second City Training Center, the largest school of comedy in the world, to add an array of student-centered facilities including new classrooms, two student theaters, a screening room, a student resource center, a student lounge and bar, two large special events spaces and additional space for the companies’ growing businesses. The new lease adds 25,000 square feet to The Second City Training Center's current 20,300 square feet of space essentially doubling the school's current footprint. In total, The Second City will occupy nearly 75,000 square feet in Chicago's Old Town.

    Named one of “The 25 Best Drama Schools in 2014” alongside Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University by The Hollywood Reporter, The Second City continues to develop an entirely unique way of creating and performing comedy. Last month, The Second City Training Center announced the launch of its TV, Film and Digital Program, under the direction of Jack C. Newell.  New classrooms will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology including voiceover studios, on-camera training studios and editing suites to accommodate the Digital Program launch.

    "We are very excited to enhance our students' experience with the development of this new space,” says Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc. “This will give the opportunity for more student performances in front of audiences, resources to enhance their education, places to work and collaborate, and program-specific materials and technology in classrooms. For our team, it's taking what's already a fantastic training institution and heightening it to the best experience possible for our students."

    The second-floor space at Pipers Alley first opened as a movie theater in 1991, and has been unoccupied since AMC went dark on May 26, 2011. The Training Center’s multi-million-dollar build-out begins immediately, with physical enhancements to include opening up the bricked-over 22-foot high window arches overlooking North Avenue and Wells Street.  The space is expected to be completed and serving students by spring of 2015.

    Long in the works, the expansion is in response to The Training Center’s desire to launch new and progressive programming while maintaining the high teacher to student ratio and enhancing the overall student experience. With the acquisition of the AMC space, the Second City Training Center can keep its educational programming under one roof – close to its history and next to its professional theaters. Students on a professional track can get even more stage time, and with the growth of the overall student body, additional theaters can accommodate end of term graduation performances. The new Student Resource Center will give students an actual on-site workspace.

    "For years we've been listening to student feedback and building this plan to fulfill their requests,” says Kerry Sheehan, President of the Second City Training Centers & Education Programs. “Not only will we be able to better accommodate our wait lists in core programs – such as improvisation and writing – but our newer initiatives into digital media and advanced classes for the professionally tracked student will have room to grow and thrive."

    The Second City is the leading brand in improv-based sketch comedy. With theaters and training centers in Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood, 11 full-time touring ensembles, thriving corporate communications and theatricals divisions as well as television and film operations, The Second City has been called "A Comedy Empire" by The New York Times. The Second City Training Center has a current student body of 5,000 per week and is the largest school of comedy in the world.

    # # #

    More from the Chicago Tribune.


    7/22/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jul 7 2014

    Student Jacob Williams returns to Nick Cannon's Wild N Out!

    After taking our 'Acting on Camera' class and frequenting our open mics, jams and drop-ins, Jacob Williams returns as a cast member on the MTV2 improv show Wild N Out on Wednesdays at 10pm this summer. Hosted by Nick Cannon with guest stars each week, episodes will be available to stream on the show's website the day after they air.

    Say hi to Jacob on Twitter and check out the show here

    7/7/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jun 25 2014

    Rick & Laura Hall Return to The Second City Training Centre July 18th & 19th

    They're coming back, for two days only! We have a beginner and an advanced musical improv workshop and two back-to-back shows!

    If you've seen Whose Line Is It Anyway? and have always wanted to learn to do musical improv then the beginner class on Saturday, July 19th from 11-2pm is a great starting point. If you have experience with musical improv and are looking to further expand your skills then try your hand at the advanced class on Friday, July 18th from 2-5pm.

    Back-to-back shows Friday July 18th starting at 7:30pm in the John Candy Box Theatre.

    7:30pm: Open Jam
    $5 Second City Training Centre Students/ $10 Non-Second City Training Centre Students

    9:00pm: Advanced Workshop show
    $8 Second City Training Centre Students/ $15 Non-Second City Training Centre Students

    Tickets available at the front desk of The Second City Training Centre (70 Peter Street, Lower Level)

    About Rick and Laura:
    Rick and Laura met when he was a member of The Second City Touring Company in Chicago and she was the musical director.

    Rick is best known for his roles in Three Fugitives, My Fellow Americans & Vice Versa while Laura can be seen on the hit TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway? starring Second City Alumni Colin Mochrie & Ryan Stiles.


    6/25/2014 Comments (0)
  • Jun 13 2014

    Kate Lambert Talks About Her Time at SC Training Center

    Kate Lambert has performed with The Second City in many capacities and has also gone through a number of our training center programs. Click here for details.

    6/13/2014 Comments (0)
  • May 29 2014

    Student Spotlight with Mollie Rehner and Chicago Women's Funny Festival

    The Chicago Women's Funny Festival - Chicago's THIRD annual festival celebrating women in comedy - has lots of Second City students and grads performing this year. One of our favorites is the wonderful Mollie Rehner, Conservatory student and Head Writer for the de Maat Theater's 'The Midnight Parade' Saturdays at Midnight. We were able to talk to Mollie about the festival and more.

    What will you be performing at the Women's Funny Festival and when?
    Sketch and musical comedy with my group Prostitute Tears on Thursday June 5 @9pm in The Pro Theatre, Stage 773.

    Tell us about your group!
    Prostitute Tears is very talented and every person in the group has a ton of creativity. With our shows you can expect music, dance numbers, and material that exposes the comedic seediness of every day life. We are so excited to be performing in this year's Chicago Women's Funny Festival and we are honored to have been selected!

    What other shows are you excited to see at the festival?
    The Cupid Players, The Fruit Flies, and Brouhaha: An Improvised Puppet Musical

    What training have you went through to be where you are today?
    I was a producer and writer of a sketch comedy show called Sideshow Comedy at Michigan State University, in which we won an Emmy award. I have also done entertainment reporting and hosting, and made some pretty sweet home movies when I was little. In Chicago, I have trained in The Second City's Conservatory program and at iO Theatre. I have also studied at the The Lincoln Lodge and perform regularly at Stage 773.

    What's the coolest thing that has happened to you on stage as a performer in Chicago so far?
    I tripped and fell during my very first stand up show. I guess that's what I get for making fun of people.

    If you had to give a Chicago newbie comedian one piece of advice, what would it be?
    Find a group of people that share your ambitions and passions. I believe if you put in the hard work and have a good attitude, opportunities will present themselves.

    Where can we see you performing after the festival's run?
    Stage 773! My group Prostitute Tears will be performing all summer!

    Anyone you want to shout out to and make them feel special?
    Brian Posen and the hard working staff at Stage 773, my Prostitutes, and of course all of the groups performing in this year's Chicago Women's Funny Festival!

    For more festival info, click here: http://www.chicagowomensfunnyfestival.com/

    5/29/2014 Comments (0)