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.
Jul 22 2014
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.# # #More from the Chicago Tribune.7/22/2014 Comments (0)
Jul 7 2014
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.7/7/2014 Comments (0)
Jun 13 2014
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
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)
May 23 2014
Conservatory Grad Mike Dozier recently moved from Chicago to LA and is now writing for ThisisTight.com and co-wrote Comedy/Horror ‘Devil In My Ride’ - now available on Amazon, Hulu and more. Give him some love and check out this critically acclaimed film!
About ‘Devil In My Ride’
When Doreen becomes possessed by the devil on her wedding night, her groom Hank and her rebellious brother Travis put aside their differences to travel across country from Chicago to Las Vegas in the hopes of finding a mythical street preacher who is said to be the last exorcist in America.
The film has received some great reviews.
"The story is a cross between Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle and The Exorcist."-Legless Corpse
"Top Horror/Comedy of 2013" - HorrorHound
"DEVIL IN MY RIDE is the kind of against-all-odds independent film that is admirable in both concept and execution, and if you give it a chance, you won’t regret taking the trip." - Fangoria
The film stars Joey Bicicchi, Erin Breen, Sid Haig (Devil's Rejects, Kill Bill 2) and Second City Detroit Alumni - Frank Zieger.5/23/2014 Comments (0)
May 13 2014
Hope England is a conservatory grad, a talented performer and an all-around awesome lady. Find out what she is doing with her Non-Profit 'Humor for Hope' and how you can help. Inspiring stuff!Can you tell us what your organization is all about?Humor for Hope is a 501c3 non profit that uses the art of improvisational comedy as a form of therapy in children's hospitals. Our mission is to provide children with acute, chronic, or terminal illness an opportunity to experience improvisational comedy as a therapeutic intervention.How did you come up with the idea of 'Humor for Hope'?I was performing sketch and improv all around town while simultaneously volunteering at Lurie Children's Hospital. I had a really rough audition for NBC in LA and left feeling deflated, super self conscious, and doubting myself, my skills, and abilities. I had never felt that way before and didn't ever want to feel that way again. I felt like the work I was doing was self indulgent so I took some time off to process and do some soul searching. I realized I loved the work I was doing but wanted to use my talents, skills, and abilities for the greater good. I wanted my passions to benefit others, not just myself.At Lurie Children's I was doing volunteer work with patients that were placed on isolation. This means they are very limited in their interactions due to their illness and the risk of infection. As you know, improvisational comedy requires no props so that alone greatly reduces the risk of infection while still stimulating the imagination. Much of the time this isolated population of children needs engagement and interaction more than any one else, so I proposed the idea of using improv comedy in order to access them, seeing that no props were necessary and it greatly lowered the risk of infection.The more I researched it, the more I realized comedy should absolutely be a form of therapy in all hospitals. To me it was a no-brainer. I just kept thinking, why is this not a thing? We all know laughter is the best medicine.
I pitched my idea to a few hospitals and at a global health care conference at Yale and got resounding feedback. Thus began Humor for HopeWhat has been the most gratifying thing to you at an event so far?In the very beginning, I came across a toddler that was deaf, blind, and alone. My heart broke for this child. All I knew to do was hold him close and sing so he would feel the vibrations through my chest. I began to chuckle because I didn't know the words to the song I was singing so I improvised it. He felt my laughter and let out his own little laugh. That moment changed my life. The power of comedy and laughter is so real.Was there an eye-opening experience that shifted your point of view as a person and made you want to help others?After my 3 month long stint soul searching, I began to realize that all we have is now. This very moment. All of us. That the second we are born we begin to die. When it comes to death and dying you really begin to question the meaning of life and why you are here. Especially when it comes to ill children and death. I watched nurses, patients, and parents, persevere through some of the most unimaginable circumstances.
As human beings we crave and need connection. Sometimes all we need is someone there beside us when we are helpless and sometimes that's all you can do for someone - just be there. I witnessed this many times at the hospital and on my solo journey across the country. We need each other. The people that helped me and the ones that I saw help others inspired me to try to do whatever I can to help others and make the world a better place.What can people do to help your organization touch more lives?There's so much. Because we are so brand-spanking-new and have gotten so much feedback and attention so quickly, we are in need of a lot of help. We are currently looking for an awesome web designer that's willing to do some pro bono work and we are also in need of some killer grant writers if you are out there. We are in the midst of talks of expanding all over to different organizations and hospitals, so very soon we will need a lot of volunteers for various things. For now just spreading the word and offering feedback via our contact page on our website would be tremendously helpful. http://www.
humorforhope.com/ Also, feel free to share inspirational stories of how humor and comedy changed your life on our Facebook page or just stay up to date on our happenings and volunteer needs. https://www.facebook. com/Humor4HopeI would like to make a shout of to all the people that have supported me on this crazy journey. That includes all of my family at The Second City and in the comedy realm, my parents, friends, and people I've met along the way that believed in this vision and supported me no matter what. Without you this wouldn't be possible.Anyone you would like to make a shout out to?
It's amazing what good things come out of being supportive, kind, and saying Yes AND :)
Humor heals, let's do what we can while we can.
5/13/2014 Comments (0)
May 6 2014
Second City student and volunteer, Amalia Gonzalez, has been selected as a finalist in Johnson & Johnson’s US Champions of Care program. Beginning Monday, the public began voting to select the grand prize winner who will attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ final match in Rio de Janeiro on July 13. Johnson & Johnson is the Official Healthcare Sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and created the program to shine a spotlight on people who go above and beyond to do extraordinary things in caring for others. The Champions of Care program invited individuals across the country to celebrate the most caring people in their lives and share their inspirational stories. From these stories, six finalists – Amalia included – were selected and are profiled at www.careinspirescare.com (English).
At 24 years old, Amalia has dedicated her life to caring for her sister with cerebral palsy. This commitment not only involves being a full-time caregiver, but also volunteering in her community to make her sister proud. While attending college and now as she pursues her professional career while studying sketch comedy at Second City, Amalia has remained committed to her sister’s care, and also devotes countless hours to make a lasting impact in her community.
The public can vote once per day for their favorite finalist from May 5-25, 2014. 5/6/2014 Comments (0)
Apr 25 2014
We talked with Level E grad and current 'The Reel Deal' contestant, Ricky Lee Barnes about his time at Second City and more. Help him become a finalist on 'The Reel Deal' by voting on his Finalist Page here: http://thereeldeal.tv/ricky-lee-barnes/
Where are you from and what made you move to Chicago?
I grew up in Moraine, Ohio which is a small suburb of Dayton. I knew I wanted a bigger life than I was living and when I was presented with a job opportunity in the city I packed up the Winnebago and took to the open road. …Which was actually a U-Haul and Highway 90.
What did you think of Chicago when you first moved here?
I thought it was beautiful and super big. I remember thinking, “This is a city and they have TREES too!?” I also couldn’t believe that I lived in a neighborhood where I could walk to a bar. The only thing you can walk to in my old neighborhood is an abandoned elementary school and a Pentecostal church.
What do you love most about the city?
The summer. There is a festival every weekend and people are always ready to let their hair down and celebrate.
What do you hate most?
The 9-month winter #SAD… Oh, and the smell of hot-pee on the redline round-about August 1st.
Did you have a nickname as a child/teen (that you dont mind sharing?)
My family is from Kentucky & Virginia so…Bubba. My parents actually still call me “Bub”. My grandpa used to call me "Pistol Pete with Stinkin’ Feet" but that one faded once I hit puberty.
What made you want to be a performer?
I always wanted to be but I was afraid to admit it. I wasted a ton of time getting a degree I’ll never use (wha, what Bachelors in Communications!?) and trying to live an idealistic, “successful” life. I knew when I moved to Chicago I would perform again but it wasn’t until I started classes at the Second City that the performer actually resurfaced.
I love to talk and tell stories and make people laugh. I always have. Performing allows me to move people and entertain them using nothing but me. It’s powerful to know that I am the only tool I need.
What Classes have you taken at the Second City?
I have taken Improv A-E and performed in the Writing 6 show “Never Change”. I know that’s not a class but I learned so much that I have to count it.
What is the coolest thing that happened to you in class so far?
Learning that everyone fails. Also coming to the realization that usually we each perceive our own failure as catastrophic when, in reality, it wasn’t thatterrible.
What is the silliest improv scene you have done in class so far?
Once I was a metrosexual business man arguing with my manicurist about her attitude while reminding her that I basically pay her Comed bill. Also when I was a 19-year old Hollister employee who couldn’t let his hair down because it was so sexy it would distract all the other employees.
If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting the Beginning Improv program, what would it be?
Don’t try to be good - just be real. And expect to be scared the first time you ask for a suggestion.
You are a semi-finalist on The Reel Deal! How has the experience been so far?
You know, I never thought I’d be on reality tv but when I read the description of The Reel Deal I thought it would be a great experience for a few reasons: I'd be a part of the film-making process from beginning to end AND I’d be able to showcase my personality. I'd get to be Ricky and Ricky Lee Barnes in the same show.
I made my personality video and so many people encouraged me and shared it and liked it on Youtube… It was moving. Coming to the realization that I have a support network that is willing to help me achieve a goal and pursue my passion is paramount. This process has shown me what I’m capable of and inspired me to continue to fight so that I can live the life I want rather than the life I thought I wanted.
i.e. It’s been a really amazing ride so far
Right now, The Reel Deal is collecting votes for each of the actors online - what can we do to help?
Each contestant was challenged to create an initial audition/personality video as well as filmed, monologue callback videos. You can view my submissions on my personal finalist page and click the “Vote for Me” button under my headshot.
Voting is done through Squerb and I am ranked in 6 categories: Person, Acting, Appearance, Life Story, Personality, and Social Media Savviness. This system is in place to allow a more comprehensive picture of each contestant rather than being a simple “like” contest. Words like “interesting”, “convincing”, “flawless” etc. are attached to each vote. It sounds confusing but just think of it as throwing darts at a dart board covered in opinions.
Voting is open until May 15th so I have until then to get as many votes in as many categories as I can!4/25/2014 Comments (0)
Finalist Page: http://thereeldeal.tv/ricky-lee-barnes/
Apr 17 2014
Allison Tolman is turning heads as the lead in FX's 'Fargo', Before landing blockbuster roles, Allison was taking classes at The Second City Training Center and working hard to get ahead. Check out the inspirational Sun Times article on Allison below to find out more.4/17/2014 Comments (0)
Mar 17 2014
Congrats to student Darren Harrison for co-producing the documentary After Prison, Responding with Faith, set to air on WTTW April 3rd at 9pm. Currently a student in our Improv for Actors program, Darren was one of 3 producers to create a 12-minute documentary in the hour-long piece. The doc focuses on St Leonard's Ministries and what their organization does to help break the cycle of incarceration. "Without intervention, 50% go back to jail within 3 years. Those who seek St. Leonard's upon release rarely go back," say Darren, President of Darren Harrison Films. Tune in to find out more!3/17/2014 Comments (0)