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Improv Program

The Improv Program is a complete foundation in the principles of scenic improvisation as practiced at The Second City. Based in the work of Viola Spolin, this program covers all elements of the improvisational process. Students begin with ensemble, environment, and object work and end by rehearsing and performing their own fully improvised show.

Improv

Improv

  • Improv Levels A-E
  • 2.5-3 Hours, 8 Weeks

The Improv Program is a complete foundation in the principles of scenic improvisation as practiced at The Second City. Based in the work of Viola Spolin, this five level program covers all elements of the improvisational process. Students begin in Level A with ensemble, continuing with environment and object work, and end in Level E by rehearsing and performing a fully-improvised show.

Improv Level A: Ensemble and Play

Improv Level A is the first class in the beginner improv program at The Second City. These classes are for anyone who wants to learn how to improvise, including people who want to do improv for fun, to better their professional skills, or to eventually pursue it professionally.

What will I learn?

In Improv Level A, students start to learn the skills needed to create strong improvised scenes. Some of these skills include building ensemble, giving and taking focus, object work, and, one of the most crucial fundamentals of improv, the concept of “yes, and.”

What will I do in this class?

Students get up and play a variety of exercises and games, many developed by Viola Spolin, whose son, Paul Sills, was one of the founders of The Second City. These exercises and games train the analytical side of the brain to focus on simple goals, freeing the creative side and silencing the negative thoughts that can make us freeze in performance (or in life, for that matter). These games are high energy cooperation and a ton of fun to play.

Who can take this class?

Improv Level A is for adults 19 and up. No prior experience in theatre or improv is required.

How long is this class?

Improv Level A meets once a week for two and a half hours for eight weeks.

What do I need to bring?

Wear comfortable clothes to move around in.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance associated with Improv Level A.

Why is this class important?

Level A sets the foundation in scene work, ensemble, and the building blocks of improvisation. Students must complete Level A in order to advance to Level B.

Improv Level B: Scene Work

Improv Level B is the second class in the beginner improv program at The Second City.

What will I learn?

Students build upon the skills they learned in Level A and start learning how to improvise scenes. Strong, relationship-based scene work is the backbone of the work we do at The Second City. Students learn the skills crucial to scene work, including emotion, listening, and transformation, as well as continue to hone skills learned in Level A, like ensemble, object work, and “yes, and.”

What will I do in this class?

Students continue to play the types of exercises and games played in Level A, which emphasize ensemble building and freeing the creative, non-judgment part of the brain. Students also begin to improvise scenes, exploring exercises that isolate the different skills needed for successful scene work. Students also learn by observing classmates performing scenes, and receiving and observing instructor feedback.

How long is this class?

Improv Levels B-E meets once a week for three hours for eight weeks.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance associated with Improv Level B.

Why is this class important?

Improv Level B introduces students to the skills needed for scene work, the backbone of what we do at The Second City.

Improv Level C: Character Work

Improv Level C is the third class in the beginner improv program at The Second City.

What will I learn?

Students learn how to improvise characters. They explore creating characters through internal motivations, like point of view, status, wants and intentions, and external ones, like experimenting with physicality. Students also continue to explore scene work in Improv Level C, learning how to perform three-person scenes, how to find the beats of scenes, and how to understand and apply subtext to scenes. They learn how to make choices in scenes that help define their character.

What will I do in this class?

Students complete active exercises that help them explore different ways to create and sustain characters. Students also continue to hone the skills necessary for doing strong scene work and building ensemble.

Will there be a performance?

There is a brief demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Why is this class important?

Level C introduces students to the skills needed for character work, an element essential to dynamic improvised scenes.

Improv Level D: Advanced Character Work

Improv Level D is the fourth class in the beginner improv program at Second City.

What will I learn?

Students explore advanced-level scene work. They focus on synthesizing all the elements that go into strong, well-rounded, dynamic scenes: character, emotion, ensemble, environment, relationship, status, transformation, and more. Students also continue to learn how to improvise group scenes, and receive an introduction to scene styles and genres.

What will I do in this class?

Students dive deeper into scene work, performing exercises that focus on the individual elements that make up successful scenes. Through repetition, observation, and feedback from the instructor, students become comfortable with creating scenes with strong characters, relationships, and a clear beginning, middle, and end. Students also learn several performance improv games, eventually gaining the skills to introduce, run, and perform several games.

Will there be a performance?

There is a demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Why is this class important?

Level D reinforces the skills needed for strong scene work.

Improv Level E: Improv in Performance

Improv Level E is the last class in the beginner improv program at The Second City.

What will I learn?

Level E is all about performance. Students take everything they have learned in Levels A-D and use those skills to put together a fully improvised, 45-minute show for friends and family. They learn multiple aspects of improv performance, including communicating with an audience, engaging in a rehearsal process, and introducing, running and executing their own show.

What will I do in this class?

Students revisit improvised performance games they learned in earlier levels, as well as learn brand new games. The focus in Level E is on performing those games for an audience. Students also learn how to introduce games and call the end of them. With instructor guidance and feedback, students engage in a rehearsal process for a show they eventually run themselves.

Will there be a performance?

There is a 45-minute performance for an audience at the end of the term.

Why is this class important?

Improv Level E is the culmination of all skills learned in Levels A-D. The skills learned in this class help students succeed in future improv classes and performance, should they choose to pursue them.

Students interested in auditioning for the Conservatory program should continue their training with Scenic Improv 1.

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Improv Express

Improv Express

  • Improv Express Levels 1-3
  • 6 Hours, 8 Weeks

Go faster with Improv Express!

The Improv Program is a complete foundation in the principles of scenic improvisation as practiced at The Second City. Based in the work of Viola Spolin, this three-level program covers all elements of the improvisational process. Meeting twice-weekly, Improv Express students explore the same concepts taught in our Improv Levels A-E and Scenic Improv 1 classes but in a shorter time period. Graduation from the Improv Express program fulfills the improvisational prerequisite to audition for the Conservatory Program.

Improv Express Level 1

Building Blocks of Scenic Improv and Improvising Scenes

Improv Express Level 2

Character Work and Advanced Scene Work

Improv Express Level 3

Playing emotionally with your scene partner, using the environment, progressing the action of a scene, and incorporating all of it into a performance.

Improv Express class meet for three hours twice a week. Each class session is eight weeks long. 

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Improv for Actors

Improv for Actors

  • Improv for Actors 1-3
  • 3 Hours, 8 Weeks

The Improv for Actors program teaches trained actors the fundamentals of improv. Skills acquired in this program can be applied to scripted and non-scripted work. Become more improvisational in written moments and more confident when asked to improvise.

Improv for Actors 1

Improv for Actors 1 is for people interested in how to be a better actor. IFA-1 is geared toward both working and post-grad actors who are looking to expand their craft with skills of improvisation. It’s also a great option for people with a theater degree or background in the dramatic arts to have fun with new people in a new environment.

What will I learn?

IFA-1 covers the fundamental elements of scene work, creating environment, and scenic transformation. Students acquire skills that can be applied to scripted and non-scripted work. Students become more improvisational in written moments and more confident when they improvise.

What will I do in this class?

Students work on building ensemble, object work, and the essence of a good improvisational scene. Using games, exercises, and other play, students explore relationships, character motivation, and heightening techniques to create compelling scenes and characters purely out of improv.

Why is this class important?

In today’s entertainment industry, improv and the ability to work without a script has become an essential tool not only for rehearsal, but for performance on screen and stage, as well as auditioning.

Who can take this class?

Improv for Actors 1 is for students 19 and up. You must have a theater degree, be currently enrolled in a full-length collegiate theater program, or have the equivalent amount of professional training and/or experience. You must submit an acting résumé for consideration to be placed in IFA-1. Please submit your résumé through our online application.

How long is this class?

Improv for Actors 1-3 meets once a week for three hours for eight weeks.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance in this level.

Improv for Actors 2

IFA-2 is the second section in the Improv for Actors program. Like the first level, this class helps trained and post-grad actors who are interested in further exploring improvisation and learn how to be a better actor. However, IFA-2 also empowers these actors with the tools for advancement in the improv community. Completion of Improv for Actors 2 fulfills the prerequisites for the Second City Conservatory auditions.

What will I learn?

In Improv for Actors 2, students build improvisational skills while creating characters. They discover how those characters and their points of view affect a scene.

What will I do in this class?

Students work on 2-person and 3-person scenes. They learn how to develop the intricacies of scenic structure including the various initiations, beats, and endings. This class culminates in personal feedback and audition prep for the Second City Conservatory Program.

Will there be a performance?

There is no performance in this level.

Improv for Actors Express

The Improv for Actors Express course is a condensed version of the first two levels of the Improv for Actors program. Students are able to complete both levels in only one term by meeting twice a week. Completion of Improv for Actors Express fulfills the prerequisites for the Second City Conservatory auditions.

Who is this class for?

Improv for Actors is geared toward both working and post grad actors looking to expand their craft with skills of improvisation. It prepares actors for opportunities at The Second City, the improv community, and professional improv for stage and screen.

What will I learn?

Students learn how to develop the intricacies of scenic structure including the various initiations, beats, and endings. This class culminates in personal feedback and audition prep for the Second City Conservatory Program.

What will I do in this class?

Students will work on the building ensemble, object work, and three dimensional characters. Using games, exercises, and other play, students will discover how those characters and their points of view affect a scene. Students will explore relationships, character motivation, and heightening techniques to create compelling scenes and long form improv. This course culminates in preparation for professional auditioning.

Who can take this class?

You must have a theater degree, be currently enrolled in a full-length collegiate theater program, or have the equivalent amount of professional training and/or experience. You must submit an acting résumé for consideration to be placed in Improv for Actors Express. Please submit your résumé through our online application.

How long is this class?

Improv for Actors Express meets twice a week for three hours for eight weeks.

Improv for Actors 3

Improv for Actors 3 is for actors who are looking to take their improv to a professional level on stage and screen. It is a master class in nuanced improvisational and long form performance tailored for those seeking how to be a better actor in the professional world.

What will I learn?

In IFA-3, students learn how critical listening and how to build the in-scene stamina that can unlock the mysteries of long form. There is also an emphasis put on preparation for professional auditioning utilizing teacher feedback and review.

What will I do in this class?

Students will do nuanced scenes and long form improvisational performance games. They will get feedback that prepares them for auditioning and performance.

Will there be a performance?

There is a half-hour public performance at the end of the term.

Why is this class important?

This class is a powerful tool for actors working in the professional world of improv and comedy.

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Improvisation

Improv F(orever)

Finished the Improv A-E program and want to keep improvising in a structured but casual environment? Want to keep your improv skills from getting rusty? How about practicing with a fun group of like-minded students? Improv F(orever) is for Improv Program graduates who want to keep working on exercises…

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Wellness

Improv for Anxiety Level A

This innovative program includes an ensemble-based improv class and a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based therapy group. The Improv for Anxiety Level A program is designed to help people with mild to moderate social anxiety and/or fear of public speaking manage their symptoms and reduce avoidance behaviors in social, work/school…

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Improv for ASD

Improv for ASD offers a class in improv for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Classes will focus on ensemble and team building to help with the exploration of different relationships and social cues. Improvisational games used in this class will teach the students skills such as accessing emotions and storytelling….

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Improv for Dementia

Improv for Dementia is a class for people living with early-stage Alzheimer’s or a related dementia and their care partners. The class will aim to build the strengths that will enhance communication between persons with the diagnosis and their loved ones. Improv and life with dementia share many of the…

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Humor Doesn't Retire: Improv for Seniors Level 1

Our Humor Doesn’t Retire program is for people 55 and older who are interested in meeting new people and learning the art of improvisation. Have you always loved comedy? Do people tell you you’re funny? Do you just want to do something active and have fun with other people? Then…

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Improv for Veterans Level Alpha

Improv for Veterans is a multi-level curriculum that culminates in a show created and performed by the class at the end of the third level. This class is specifically catered to anyone who has served in the armed forces. This class aims to teach improv and storytelling fundamentals, while also…

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Drop-In Class

Improv Test Drive

Improv Test Drive

Are you interested in taking an improv class, but you’re not quite sure if it’s right for you? Give it a test drive! Our weekly drop-in improv class for beginners is open to everyone, whether you have ever improvised or not. It’s a great opportunity…

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Improv Tune-Up

Improv Tune-Up

The Improv Tune-Up drop-in class is perfect for current students looking for more training and stage time, or performers looking to keep their skills fresh.

Each week, Improv Tune-Up will have a different focus (ex: character work, scenework, games, initiation) challenging improvisers of many skill levels…

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Private Lessons

Private Lessons

One-On-One Coaching

The Second City Training Center offers individual, customized coaching in a variety of areas including, but not limited to:

Acting
Monologue prep
On-camera audition prep
Dialects Accent Coaching

Youth & Teen Coaching
Audition Prep
Monologue Prep

Writing
Advanced sketch critique
Screenplay & Sitcom coaching
Sketch Production (Coaching a group through their first production)
Sketch generation & critique…

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