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Second City Chicago


Learn different approaches to crafting and strengthening your true stories, build narrative and performance skills, and exercise your eye for detail.

$345/$315 early registration, 3 hours, 8 weeks

Prerequisites: Open to all students


Crafting Your Story with Ian Belknap TERM 2 2015

In the past few years, Chicago has seen an explosion of Storytelling and Live Lit shows, most of which involve first person nonfiction narrative, or simply put, true stories from your own experience. The craft of shaping the events of your own life into a compelling story is one that involves riveting performance, yes, but first it's a writing project, one that draws on the skills of memoir (identifying rich and resonant memories, gaining the perspective on your own life, etc.) and the short story or sketch writer (heightened observation, sharp use of language, etc.) Add to these skills the ability to tell your own stories in confident, commanding fashion, and you've got yourself a first rate storyteller. This class will explore each of these skills and the various ways they intersect in this burgeoning art form.

About the instructor: Ian Belknap is a writer/performer living in Chicago. He is the Founder and Overlord of Write Club, the world's greatest competitive reading series, now in five North American cities. Write Club is an all-volunteer enterprise that gives a portion of show proceeds to charity. Ian also serves as the Dean of Mean at The Paper Machete. Ian is a former cast member of The Encyclopedia Show and has performed at virtually every Live Lit show in Chicago. His highly-regarded live memoir show Wide Open Beaver Shot of My Heart: A Comedy With a Body Count debuted in the Rhino Theater Fest and was later produced at The Neo-Futurists. He is curator/host of the shows Something Wicked This Way Comes (seven deadly sins-themed monologues), which appeared at Rhino Fest and later at The Garage at Steppenwolf, and Ian's Dog & Pony Show which gathered solo performers, improv, sketch, and stand-up in a comedy mashup. Ian is writer/peformer of the solo shows Bring Me the Head of James Franco, That I May Prepare a Savory Goulash in the Narrow and Misshapen Pot of His Skull, Terminal Ferocity, and Uncle Dad is Ripshit, You Guys.  FUN FACT: Live Lit is a term COINED BY IAN BELKNAP.


Performing Your Story with Janna Sobel TERM 2 2015

This dynamic class empowers you to bring your truth and presence to the stage with comfort and confidence. In the same supportive environment cultivated in Second City's improv classes, the skills of live, page-free storytelling are strengthened: relaxed dynamic presence, humor, generosity, emotional honesty, and character work. Your understanding of Storytelling and Live-Lit will grow from detail-oriented one-on-one feedback, as well as generative exercises that help you strengthen a sense of story structure, identify the "internal event", master timing, and cultivate powerful presence on stage.

Second City Storytelling courses can be taken in any order.

About the instructor: Janna Sobel is a writer/performer, director and improvisor. As a storyteller, she's been a return feature for Write Club, Guts & Glory, Story Club, This Much is True, The Encyclopedia Show and Chicago Slam Works, and has been a featured speaker at Columbia College, ORD Camp and Young Chicago Authors. She teaches Improv, Improv for Anxiety, Storytelling, and Acting at the Second City Training Center, the University of Chicago Lab School, The Old Town School of Folk Music, and Stage 773. She founded and hosts the storytelling show Here, Chicago (formerly Here's the Story) and is a company member of Real Talk Live. Learn more about her at