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

The Improv Program: A-E

  • Improv Levels A-E & F(orever)

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.

Want to check out what an improv class is like or need to refresh your skills? Come to our weekly drop-in improv classes! If you’re short on time, join us for one of our 3-day or 5-day Improv Intensives.

Improv Level A

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. 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.

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.”

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.

Improv Level A meets once a week for two and a half hours over an eight week term. No prior experience in theatre or improv is required. Students with a degree in theatre or significant experience may want to consider the Improv for Actors program instead.

Improv Level B

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

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. They learn how to make choices in scenes that help define their character.

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.

Improv Level B meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term.

Improv Level C

Improv Level C introduces students to the skills needed for scene work, the backbone of what we do at The Second City. 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 Levels A & B like ensemble, object work, and “yes, and.”

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.

Improv Level C meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a brief demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Improv Level D

Improv Level D reinforces the skills needed for strong scene work.

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.

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.

Improv Level D meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Improv Level E

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.

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.

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.

Improv Level E meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a 45-minute performance for an audience at the end of the term.

Improv Level 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 and games while having fun with other improv grads.

Graduates of Level F will be scheduled for a graduation performance as an opener for a Second City House Team. Students can take this course as many times as they like.

Private Groups

Want to keep improvising with friends from your class?

Level F offers you the chance to take a favorite improv teacher again or request another amazing improv teacher that you didn’t get to take an improv class with. Your group will work with that teacher to design an improv class that is centered around what you all want next. Better scene work? How to put a show together? Level F is here to continue your improv education.

Contact Amy Young with any questions about group class scheduling.

Note: Level F can be taken at any point during the year and does not have to be scheduled right after Improv Level E.

“Level F is for people who want to get serious about learning improv beyond the basics in a critical, yet non-competitive and fun environment.” – Gregory M, Student

“Level F has been a really worthwhile experience, providing us with focused and detailed attention. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my Level E group after graduation, and it’s so nice to continue to meet once a week and get practice that makes us even more performance-ready.” – Sarah C, Student

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Improv Express

Improv Express

  • Improv Express Levels 1-3

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 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

Improv Express Level 1 combines Improv Levels A & B from our beginner improv program. 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. Improv Level A sets the foundation in scene work, ensemble, and the building blocks of improvisation. Improv Level B introduces students to the skills needed for character work, an element essential to dynamic improvised scenes.

Improv Express Level 1 meets twice a week for three hours over an eight week term.

Improv Express Level 2

Improv Express Level 2 combines Improv Levels C & D. Improv Level C introduces students to the skills needed for scene work and becoming a good scene partner. Improv Level D reinforces the skills needed for strong scene work.

Improv Express Level 2 meets twice a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Improv Express Level 3

Improv Express Level 3 covers Improv Level E in half the time! Improv Level E is all about performance. Students learn multiple aspects of improv performance, including communicating with an audience, engaging in a rehearsal process, and introducing, running and executing their own show.

Students revisit improvised performance games they learned in earlier levels, as well as learn brand new games. The focus in this level 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.

Improv Express Level 3 meets twice a week for three hours over four weeks. There is a 45-minute performance for an audience at the end of the term.

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Improv for Actors

Improv for Actors

  • Improv for Actors 1-3

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

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. 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.

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.

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.

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

Improv for Actors 1 meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term.

Improv for Actors 2

Like the first level, Improv for Actors 2 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.

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.

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.

Improv for Actors 2 meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term.

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 IFA Express fulfills the prerequisites for the Second City Conservatory auditions.

Students must submit an acting résumé for consideration to be placed in IFA Express. Please submit a résumé through our online application.

Improv for Actors Express meets twice a week for three hours over an eight week term.

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

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.

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

Improv for Actors 3 meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a half-hour public performance at the end of the term.

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Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y

  • Levels A-E

Mid-Life Crisis Improv is for anyone ages 35-55 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.

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.

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y Level A

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. 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.

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.”

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.

Improv Level A meets once a week for two and a half hours over an eight week term. No prior experience in theatre or improv is required. Students with a degree in theatre or significant experience may want to consider the Improv for Actors program instead.

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y Level B

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

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. They learn how to make choices in scenes that help define their character.

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.

Improv Level B meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term.

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y Level C

Improv Level C introduces students to the skills needed for scene work, the backbone of what we do at The Second City. 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 Levels A & B like ensemble, object work, and “yes, and.”

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.

Improv Level C meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a brief demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y Level D

Improv Level D reinforces the skills needed for strong scene work.

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.

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.

Improv Level D meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a demonstration for an audience at the end of the term.

Mid-Life Crisis: Improv for Generations X & Y Level E

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.

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.

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.

Improv Level E meets once a week for three hours over an eight week term. There is a 45-minute performance for an audience at the end of the term.

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Wellness

Improv for Anxiety Level A

Improv for Anxiety Level A consists of a weekly improv class at Second City, led by a Second City Training Center instructor, as well as a weekly therapy group held at an outside location in the Ravenswood neighborhood. The therapy group is facilitated by two licensed clinicians who have experience…

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Improv for Autism

Improv for Autism offers a class in improv for teens and 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…

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Humor Doesn't Retire: Improv for Seniors Level 1

Humor Doesn’t Retire is open to people 55 and older. In Humor Doesn’t Retire Level 1, 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,…

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Drop-In Class

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 to practice, have some fun,…

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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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Team Coaching

The Second City Training Center now offers team improv and sketch coaching. This service is available at or in the vicinity of any of our three Training Centers (Chicago, Hollywood, Toronto) and also available via Skype. Our team coaches are all skilled instructors and directors that have worked with Second…

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