• Where do I begin?
Let’s channel our inner Maria Von Trapp and start at the very beginning. For improvisation training most of our students begin with the Improvisation Level A class. You do not need to have any previous acting or improvisation experience to begin the Improvisation program. If you have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre, then you may enroll in our Improvisation for Actors program; you have to be approved to take the IFA program so you will need to submit a copy of your theatre resume for review. If you have completed a full, year-long improvisation training program (equivalent to our Improvisation program or from another like iO or Annoyance) and you have completed at least one acting course (post-high school), then you qualify to audition for our Conservatory program. You can also begin in the first level of our Comedy Writing or Acting and Scene Study programs, depending on your interests. If you need any help deciding which classes to take, just give us a call at (312) 664-3959. We will always be happy to chat with you about your interests and goals and figure out the best place for you to begin.
• Do I have to audition?
Please stand on the mark in the middle of the stage and deliver the following monologue: “No, I do not have to audition to start taking classes at The Second City. Only some advanced programs like the Conservatory and the Music Improvisation program require auditions, though some specialized classes and workshops may have prerequisites.”
• What is the difference between Acting and Improv classes?
Words on a page. In the Acting program you will work with scripted material such as monologues and scenes from plays. The Improv program focuses on unscripted games, exercises and scenes.
• Can I receive college credit or get a degree for taking classes?
Because the Training Center itself is not an accredited institution of higher learning, just an awesome professional training center, students are generally ineligible for college credit. We also cannot file the paperwork for international students to obtain student visas (sorry Mongolians, you may have to wait until we open the Ulan Bator Training Center). However, if you are currently enrolled in college, we have this amazing program called Comedy Studies which is an accredited college program that we run in Chicago in partnership with Columbia College. This is a semester-long study in comedy for which students do receive college credit.
• Is there an age limit to attend classes?
We offer classes in our Youth and Teen Program for students ages 4-18. Students must be at least 19 to attend classes in our adult programs, but there is no upper age limit. Why, even Methuselah himself could come in and learn to improvise!
• Are there scholarships or work study positions?
A limited number of full and partial scholarships based on need or merit are available for Summer Adult Immersions, Youth and Teen Summer Camps and Youth and Teen year-round classes. Applications are available online on each program’s pages. Volunteer positions come up very regularly and are the easiest way for adult students to receive discounted tuition. Volunteers are usually sought to assist with high volume events at the Training Center or to represent the Training Center at various events and locations around Chicago. People who volunteer regularly may be considered for regular work study positions. To apply to be a volunteer (also known as the Second City Dream Team), please submit this form.
• If I need to take off a term, can I return and continue where I was?
You mean you have something better to do? Well, okay. You have up to one year to return and continue with the next level in your program. If it has been longer than a year, you will need to repeat the last level you completed. Students returning from hiatus should call the office (312-664-3959) to be placed in a class or on a waiting list.
• When do I pay for classes?
Tuition fees should be paid at the time of registration in order to hold your spot in the class. Tuition fees are non-refundable and non-transferrable. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and checks. If you pay in cash, please bring the exact amount as we may not have change. We do not accept beads and trinkets...anymore (that’s how we lost the New York Training Center to the Dutch). Payment plans are available at the time of registration, but surcharges will be applied.
• I want to work as a performer for Second City someday, so what classes should I take?
The most direct answer is the Conservatory, our cornerstone training program designed to give you first-hand experience in the Second City method. It caters to the aspiring professional, and it qualifies you to audition for our house teams and other advanced programs. Admission is by audition only and requires some previous experience, so you may need to start with training in our Improvisation program. However, great Second City actors also have to be able to perform scripted material and create believable characters on stage (try our Acting program), and on the resident stages they write their own material (try ourComedy Writing program). And they all have to be comfortable with music and singing (we have a variety of music classes!). These programs can be great preparation for the Conservatory, but students also frequently enroll in them after graduation from the Conservatory to round out their skills and deepen the understanding of their craft. The bottom line is all of the programs here will give you practical experience that will make you a creative powerhouse.
• If I take classes will I get to be a Second City cast member?
Although many of the resident company actors are graduates of the Training Center, completion of any program does not guarantee employment with the company. It takes a great deal of training and experience to become a member of the Mainstage or e.t.c. cast. Most of the resident actors have trained and performed for a number of years before being hired by Second City. Graduates of the Conservatory and Music Improv programs are encouraged to audition for the Training Center house ensembles. Performing with the house ensembles are an individual's best chance of being hired by The Second City. Conservatory graduates are also eligible to audition for The Second City National Touring Company.