This Handbook contains important and pertinent information regarding the Second City and general policies and procedures for our students. All new students should read this Handbook thoroughly and bookmark this page for their reference. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact our Customer Service team. Every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date. However, policies and procedures are subject to change without notice, at the Second City’s discretion.
About The Second City
The Second City has emerged as a leading school for people from all walks of life to study improvisation, acting, writing, and more. Some of our famous alumni include Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Stephanie Weir, Steve Carell, Nancy Walls, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Bonnie Hunt, Mike Myers, Sean Hayes, Hinton Battle, Greg Kotis, John Candy, and countless other producers, directors, writers, and actors working in theatre, television, and film. Our students come from many backgrounds and experience levels. Whatever your reason for joining, we aim to create a safe and supportive environment where you can explore and grow.
The focus of The Second City’s classes is to teach the skills which underlie the work on our resident stages. They are taught by professionals working in their fields, dedicated to helping students develop their artistic voice, both individually and within an ensemble, and to provide the tools and techniques needed to express that voice. We draw on our company’s history of ensemble improvisation, satire, and revue comedy as developed and practiced by our actors, directors, and teachers and serve as a laboratory for the exploration of the future of the art form.
The Second City is open to the public, in accordance with local guidelines. There will be limited in-person classes and shows beginning in May of 2021. Information about our covid safety protocols can be found on our website.
The Second City Chicago is located at the corner of North Avenue and Wells Street in the Piper’s Alley building in the Near North neighborhood of Old Town. Enter at 230 W. North Avenue for covid screening. Classes take place on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of Piper’s Alley. Escalators and Elevators are available for use. On your first day of class, signage is posted throughout Piper’s Alley indicating to which classroom your class has been assigned.
There is a paid Self Park Garage attached to the Piper's Alley Building. The Entrance is located on North Avenue. Street parking is limited; consult posted signs. Rates may vary. Nearby public transportation routes include the Sedgwick stop on the Brown and Purple lines, North/Clybourn or the Clark/Division stops on the Red Line, and the North Avenue (#72), Sedgwick (#37), Broadway (#36), Sheridan (#151), LaSalle (#156) and Clark Street (#22) bus lines. Validation is not available.
Classes & Attendance
We aim to make your class days and times constant throughout each program, however we cannot guarantee this. We strongly encourage all students to enroll in the next level of their program at least 2 weeks before the start of a new term to ensure that they will be able to continue with their ensemble on the same day and time as the previous term.
While many students do complete their entire program with the same ensemble, this is never guaranteed.
Attendance/Making Up Missed Classes
Students are expected to attend all classes. For a 7 week class, you are required to attend at least five (5) sessions of your class. If you miss three (3) or more classes you will not be eligible to move forward to the next level. In the Conservatory and Grad Revue Program, you may only miss one (1) class per term. Performances count towards these absences as well. If you arrive more than 20 minutes late or leave more than 20 minutes early this also counts as an absence. These terms are NOT negotiable. Students are required to be part of an ensemble. Missing your regularly scheduled class jeopardizes your involvement within the ensemble, and limits your learning at that level.
We currently do not have capacity to offer regularly scheduled make-up classes. If you have had to miss class time due to an emergency and would like to make up that time, please contact our Customer Service Team for your options. If a make-up class does become available, you’ll be making up the time that you missed and working on improv fundamentals, not necessarily the exact curriculum that you missed.The most important step after a missed class is to contact your instructor to review any material and homework missed. You are expected to get assignments from your instructor and complete any homework even for weeks that you missed class.
Some classes are only open to students within a certain age range. This is to ensure that children’s classes are divided appropriately based on content for each age group, as well as to ensure Adults are not accidentally registered for children’s classes or vice versa. If you are looking for an override on age restrictions, you must contact the administration staff to review. If you try to bypass the age restrictions, it will be caught and the student will be removed from the class if prior authorization was not given.
Most of our programs start with a beginner level that does not require an application or prerequisite. Higher levels in our programs and some specialty classes will require prerequisites and/or audition.
We do not offer advanced placement in any of our programs. The curriculum in most programs builds on what was taught in previous levels. All students are expected to start at Level 1, regardless of previous experience.
The Second City reserves the right to require additional classes for individual students as needed. Should an individual not complete any required class, the Second City reserves the right to hold the student back a term until the requirement is satisfied. If the student is asked to repeat a term by their teacher or an Artistic Director, a discount will be applied to the student’s repeated level.
Students Returning from Hiatus
Sometimes a student may wish or need to take time off from their Second City studies due to personal reasons. Should this occur, please contact Customer Service immediately. Please note that when you return, Second City reserves the right to place you in an appropriate level at its discretion. Students who leave the Conservatory program may be required to re-audition.
Returning students must pay the tuition rate that is applicable at the time of resuming their studies. Any student returning after more than one (1) year of absence is required to rejoin the program at a level determined by the Artistic Directing team.
Auditing/Guests and Sharing Class Links
Visitors are not allowed to attend regular classes. A drop-in class or jam would be an appropriate option for guests.
Do not share your class link with anyone else. Not only is that unfair to students who have paid to be there, it can also be dangerous and expose our classes to harassment.
A substitute teacher may sometimes be necessary due to the fact that our faculty consists of working artists. Illness, tech issues, emergencies, and other events outside our instructors’ control can also occur. Substitute instructors will be provided with class curriculum and materials to ensure a seamless student experience.
Successful completion of all courses in the following programs earns students a certificate: Improvisation, Conservatory, Writing, On-Demand Sketch Writing, Satire Writing, Acting, Acting Lab. Digital certificates will be emailed to students by the end of the following term. Students with an outstanding account balance will not receive certificates until the balance has been paid.
Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable. The Second City reserves the right to accept or deny any application. You, the student, are responsible for the entire tuition regardless if the tuition is paid in full or on a payment plan.
Payment plans are available for all classes except drop-ins and camps. Please contact our Customer Service team for more information. Classes must be paid in full before the end of the class term. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please contact customer service to direct you to a Student Success Manager who may be able to assist you.
Full and partial scholarships are available for our adult programs as well as kids and teens classes and camps. For more information and to apply please visit the Scholarships page on our website. There is a deadline to apply before the beginning of the next term, and applications and any funds received are only good for one term.
Multi-Class Tuition Discount
Students who enroll in more than one class within the same order will receive a $25 discount off each additional class. Drop-in classes are not eligible. Other restrictions may also apply.
A $30.00 fee will be assessed for returned checks due to insufficient funds or closed accounts.
Volunteer and Intern Program Credits
If you have past credits earned pre-pandemic, we will honor their use. These credits do expire. Please contact Customer Service for more information.
Students who are accepted into an audition-based class are expected to enroll in that program in the next term, and commit to the entire program. Students who defer may be asked to re-audition and will require approval to rejoin the program at a later date.
Conservatory and Grad Revue Program Auditions
An audition is required to enter the Conservatory Program. Another audition is required for entry to the second half of the program, Grad Revue.
Please consult the Conservatory information page or the Auditions page of the website for more information and audition dates. A resume may be requested for review.
Youth and Teen Auditions
Certain Youth and Teen classes require an audition for acceptance. These auditions generally occur every 2 terms, after which students are placed into the appropriate level. It is recommended that students have taken at least two classes with us before auditioning. Certain age restrictions apply.
Acting Lab Auditions
An audition is required to enter the Acting Lab. Students must have graduated The Second City Acting program or have equivalent experience. A BFA in Theatre will also be accepted. Students must reach out to our Customer Service department to have the approval added to their accounts. A resume may be requested for review. Please consult the Student Auditions page to see when these auditions are held.
Each term, a number of shows require actors, including student productions such as Writing 6 revues or independent comedy productions. Auditions are generally open to current students and alumni, though final say lies with the individual director. Audition dates, requirements, and other information will be shared via email and our website as available.
Second City Touring Company and General Auditions
When audition dates are scheduled, Second City will announce these through publications, flyers and on the company website. The producers notify those actors whom they are interested in seeing in addition to accepting appointments as announced. You WILL NOT automatically be informed of the dates of general auditions. These auditions are not a place to try out your audition techniques; please audition only if you are ready and interested in working.
We cannot guarantee that graduates will be given performing positions. As a Second City student you have a leg up on the competition because you are studying improvisation in the way that a Second City performer needs to have studied. Many of the current members of the Second City Resident and Touring Companies are graduates of our educational programs. However, completing our programs does not guarantee a job with the Second City.
Performances & Tickets
Due to covid restrictions, student discounts for Second City shows are currently paused. As we continue to reopen information will be shared about future opportunities.
Virtual student shows are happening regularly and we encourage everyone to watch and support their fellow students. Information about these shows is posted on Second City social media accounts.
Listing Class Shows on an Actors’ Resume
It is important that for any audition, whether through Second City or not, you represent your training and show experience with us correctly and honestly. For example, performing on the Mainstage for a Conservatory show does not allow you to put “Second City Mainstage” on your actor’s resume.
Please list the location or producing body on all your Second City experience as “Second City Training Center [Centre], Toronto/Chicago/Hollywood.” After completing a program, it is also important not to list yourself as a “Second City Alumni” but rather as a “Second City Training Center [Centre] Graduate.” The Second City defines “alumni” as an actor who has written and performed a show on a resident stage (Toronto, Chicago, LA Mainstage or Chicago’s e.t.c. stage).
For example, a student who has finished the Conservatory program should list the experience as:
Conservatory Grad Revue – Ensemble – Second City Training Centre, Toronto
Standards of Conduct
Statement on Respect and Classroom Conduct
Respect is paramount in the classroom, whether in-person or virtual. We are here to work and learn together, and support one another. Any racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or otherwise discriminatory behaviour or comments will not be allowed, and students who display such behaviour may be asked to leave their class or permanently expelled, per the Discipline Policy.
Harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, is strictly prohibited. The Second City will not tolerate harassment by anyone, including instructors, staff, students, visitors, vendors, contractors, and third parties.
Harassment is defined as unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, physical, or visual, that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s participation in Second City programs, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.
Sexual assault is a criminal act that violates the standards of our community and is unacceptable at The Second City. The Second City’s Sexual Assault policy applies to students, instructors, staff, and visitors, as well as vendors, contractors, and third parties.
We encourage students to share their pronouns with their instructors and classmates. Pronouns are an extension of one's identity and therefore deserve respect. Disrespectful behaviour in regards to Pronouns would violate our Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy and should be reported to the Student Success Managers. For more information on pronouns please visit: https://uwm.edu/lgbtrc/support/gender-pronouns/.
Relationships Between Faculty and Students
It is against Second City policy for students and instructors to engage in romantic relationships with one another. Doing so may result in disciplinary action for both student and instructor.
The Second City maintains a zero tolerance policy for violence. Acts or threats of physical violence which involve or affect our faculty, students, or staff or which occur on Second City property, will not be tolerated.
The Second City prohibits all persons who enter company property from carrying a handgun, firearm, knife, explosive, or other prohibited weapon of any kind regardless of whether the person is licensed to carry the weapon or not.
The only exception to this policy will be police officers, security guards, or other persons who have been given written consent by The Second City and/or are permitted by law to carry a weapon on the property.
Violation of this policy is grounds for discipline, including immediate dismissal.
In accordance with the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, any individual licensed to carry a concealed firearm may store their firearms in a locked vehicle in the parking lot of the property, as long as the weapon is kept in a locked container out of plain view.
Drug and Alcohol Policy
Coming to class, whether in-person or virtually, under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol negatively affects your ability to learn, creates a hostile classroom environment, and shows a lack of respect towards your instructor and other students in your class. Students who do so may be asked to leave their class or program, and risk permanent expulsion from The Second City. This policy also applies to students performing in student shows, jams, or open mics.
Complaint and Reporting Procedure
Any student who experiences or witnesses a violation of any of these policies on Second City property or in a Second City classroom environment should contact a Student Success Manager. When applicable, the student is also encouraged to report the incident to the police and seek medical care if needed.
All concerns and complaints will be treated with confidentiality to the extent practicable without compromising the investigation and/or resolution of the matter, and will be investigated thoroughly and promptly.
No one at The Second City may reprimand, retaliate, or discriminate against an individual for raising a concern, making a complaint, and/or participating in an investigation. Any individual who believes that they have been retaliated against in any manner should report the matter to a Student Success Manager.
Open Door Policy
The Second City is committed to providing a safe, productive, and fun educational environment for all students. Part of this commitment is encouraging an open and frank atmosphere in which any problem, concern, or question can be addressed and discussed. These can include but are not limited to educational, financial, medical, safety, or accessibility concerns.
If you have any concerns about your class or The Second City that you do not feel comfortable sharing with your ensemble or your instructor, please reach out to a Student Success Manager.
If an instructor feels that a student is engaging in behavior which is threatening, dangerous, and/or disruptive to the classroom ensemble, the instructor may dismiss that student from their class. Behavior which would result in immediate dismissal includes, but is not limited to: threats or acts of violence, inebriation, violation of our Standards of Conduct, or other actions which are disruptive to the work of the class. Students dismissed from class in this manner may not return to class until they have spoken with a Second City administrator. At this point a warning may be issued or, depending on the severity of their actions, the student permanently expelled.
The Second City - 800.896.8120 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Toronto Training Centre
Julie Dumais-Osborne, Artistic Director, email@example.com
Chicago Training Center
Nancy Hayden, Artistic Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollywood Training Center
Joshua Funk, Artistic Director, email@example.com
Student Success Managers
Lisa Akroush, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tija Freimuta, email@example.com
VP, Customer Success
Abby Wagner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Have ideas about new things you want to see at The Second City? Share them with email@example.com
Second City Anonymous Hotline - 833-961-3665