The Second City Training Centre Handbook
Policies and Procedures
This General Information page contains important and pertinent information regarding the Training Centre and general policies for our students. All new students should read this page thoroughly and print out a copy for your reference. If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact the office. Every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date. However, policies and procedures are subject to change without notice, at the Training Centre’s discretion.
About the Training Centre
The Second City Training Centre has emerged as a leading school for people from all walks of life to study improvisation, acting, writing and more. Many Second City alumni first studied here, including Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live, Stephanie Weir of MAD TV, Steve Carell of The Office, Nancy Walls and Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, Chris Farley, Bonnie Hunt and Mike Myers. Other alumni of our Training Centre include Sean Hayes of Will and Grace, three-time Tony Award winner Hinton Battle, author of Broadway’s Urinetown Greg Kotis, Halle Berry, 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 Training Centre is to teach the skills which underlie the work on our resident stages. The classes, taught by professionals working in their fields, are 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 Training Centre is located at 99 Blue Jays Way. Administrative offices are on the second and third floor. Office hours are from 9:00am - 10:00pm. The Training Centre office phone number is 416-340-7270.
Training Centre classes take place on the 3rd floor only. On your first day of class, signage is posted at the entrance of the 3rd floor, indicating to which classroom your class has been assigned.
There is a paid parking underground at the Hyatt Hotel.
There are bathrooms at the back of our main hallway. Directly down the hallway we have our a bathroom for those who identify as female. Beside that is our accessible, single room bathroom. To the right of that is our bathroom for those who identify as male.
Classes & Attendance
We aim to make your class days and times constant throughout each program. For Improv Levels A-E, plan to be with the same group at the same time and day for the duration of the program. We strongly encourage all students to re-enroll 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. In the Conservatory Program, once you are accepted all levels will be on the same day and time.
Switching Class Times
If your schedule changes and it is impossible for you to attend your scheduled class time, let us know as soon as possible. We will make every effort to place you in a new class time which is convenient for you. However, once you are placed in a class time, we cannot guarantee switching you into a different time within the same term. Students switching sections may be charged a $50 transfer fee. If other classes within your level are full, you may need to wait a term or even two to get into a different time slot. The best time to try to change classes is when registering for your next term.
Attendance/Making Up Classes
Students are expected to attend all classes. Missing more than two of your scheduled class times can be grounds for repeating a term. Even though a student may make up their missed classes, the student is also required to be part of an ensemble. Missing their regularly scheduled class jeopardizes their involvement within the ensemble.
If you are enrolled in a program that has multiple sections, you can make up a maximum of two missed classes by going to a pre-scheduled Makeup Class. Please call the Training Centre office to see what day and time options are available for you to make up a class. Makeup classes are for your benefit. They do not erase the original absences, as they do not take away from the fact that you were not present with your own ensemble.
The Second City Training Centre reserves the right to require additional classes for individual students as needed. Should an individual not complete any required class, the Training Centre 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 the teacher or artistic directing team, 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 the Training Centre due to personal reasons. Should this occur, please contact the Training Centre immediately. Please note that when you return, the Training Centre reserves the right to place you in an appropriate level at its discretion. Students who leave during Improv Levels D or E will be placed in Level C as soon as an opening is available.
Returning students must pay the tuition rate that is applicable at the time of rejoining the Training Centre. 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.
Visitors are not allowed to attend regular classes. A drop-in class or jam would be an appropriate option for guests.
A substitute teacher may sometimes be necessary due to the fact that our faculty is comprised of working artists. When possible, students will be notified by their instructor in advance. However, sometimes advance notice is not possible.
New Student Membership
Students who have never before taken a class at The Second City Training Centre in Toronto will pay a one-time $25 membership fee at the time of registration.
Multi-Class Tuition Discount
Students who enroll in more than one class will receive a 15 percent discount off each additional class. Some restrictions may apply.
Early Registration Discount
Most adult program classes have an early registration period during which students can receive $30 off their registration.
Priority is usually given to our students when assigning internship positions. Openings come up semi-regularly and are the easiest way for adult students to receive discounted tuition. Interns are usually sought to represent the Training Centre at the front desk on the third floor, and sometimes various events and locations around Toronto. To apply via email please contact us at email@example.com.
A $30.00 fee will be assessed for returned checks due to insufficient funds or closed accounts.
Note: Tuition is non-refundable and non-transferable. All sales are final.
Conservatory Program Auditions
An audition is required to enter the Conservatory Program. Please consult the Student Auditions page to see when they are held each term. Appointments are accepted up until the Friday before the audition date.
Second City General Auditions
When audition dates are scheduled, Second City will announce these through publications, flyers and on the website. The producers notify those actors whom they are interested in seeing. 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 student of the Training Centre 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 Mainstage and Touring Companies are graduates of the Training Centre. However, no one is guaranteed a job with the Second City once you graduate from the Training Centre.
Performances & Tickets
Training Centre Shows
All year long a number of shows are produced by faculty, guest artists, current students and alumni of the Training Centre. These are performed at the John Candy Box Theatre, and sometimes on the Mainstage. Some of these shows are improvised while others are scripted. They represent a wide range of the styles that are explored at the Training Centre. It is highly recommended that you attend as many of these as possible. Present your Student Card at the Training Centre box office. Visit the website for show details.
All students are encouraged to see at least some of each term’s Conservatory Performances. The dates of these performances are on the website.
Other Student Shows
Current Training Centre students receive discounted tickets to performances by Levels C-E of the Improvisation Program, Stand Up, Storytelling, Music Improv and other classes as they’re offered. Students, particularly those just starting out in these programs, are very much encouraged to see these shows to become familiar with the performance experiences.
Current Training Centre students may obtain one complimentary ticket to the Mainstage Theatre on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday evenings, provided the show is not sold out.
Call the Box Office at 416-340-7270 after 6pm the night of the show to find out if they expect to release tickets for Training Centre students. If tickets are expected to be available, present your Student Card to the box office after 7:30pm. The show may sell out at any time. Student Cards are not valid for wait list tickets.
This offer is valid only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening performances. Free tickets are not available for Friday and Saturday night performances in the Mainstage.
Monday Night Touring Company shows
Current Training Centre students may obtain one complimentary ticket to the 8:00pm Monday Touring Company show if it is not sold out. These tickets are only released about 30 mins prior to showtime. We highly recommend that you see the Touring Company since these shows often present classic material from past shows, and tickets are much less expensive than the regular resident shows.
Improv sets in the Mainstage theatre are free to everyone. They run Monday through Thursday at 10:00pm, Saturdays at 1:00am, and Sundays at 9:00pm; no improv sets on Fridays. (Times are approximate – the sets begin a few minutes after the main show ends.) Seating is based on availability, so you may want to get here a little early (say 12:15am on a Saturday) to make sure you get in. The improv sets are fun to watch and a great learning experience as well.
Reminder: There are no comps available on Fridays or Saturdays for the Mainstage.
Please treat the box office and front desk staff with respect. They work very hard and are good at what they do. Always have your Student Card with you if you want a free ticket. Student Cards are available any time the Training Centre office is open.
You are in a program designed to teach you how to perform in a Second City company. The students who take the time to see all the shows and watch the improv sets find that their class work is greatly enhanced.
As a student, you are strongly encouraged to see all shows at The Second City Training Centre and theatres, as well as other shows throughout the improv community. Take advantage of the opportunity to see shows!
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 Training Centre experience as “Second City Training Centre, Toronto.” After completing a program, it is also important not to list yourself as a “Second City Alumni” but rather as a “Second City Training Centre Graduate.” The Second City defines “alumni” as an actor who has written and performed a show on a resident stage (Mainstage)
For example, a student who has completed Level 6 of The Conservatory Program should list the experience as:
Conservatory Grad Show – Ensemble – Second City Training Centre, Toronto
Training Centre Student Card
At the beginning of each term every new Training Centre student is given a Student Card. It is your responsibility to make sure that you receive your Student Card and that you do not lose it. Your Student Card is the only way to identify yourself as a Training Centre student at the box office or for other discounts at local businesses. Make sure to have it with you whenever you are in the building and keep it updated with a date stamp from the front desk.
Wear comfortable clothing to class — something you can roll around on the floor in and not worry about. The temperature varies in each of our classrooms. Layered clothing is suggested.
Our Training Centre is a public building. Never leave your belongings unattended. The Second City is not responsible for any lost or stolen articles.
Tuition is non-refundable, non-transferable. The Second City Training Centre reserves the right to accept or deny any application.
Suggested Reading List
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
Act of Being, Charles Marowitz
Acting, The First Six Lessons, Boleslavsky
Adventures in the Screentrade, William Goldman
Advice to the Players, Robert Lewis
An Incomplete Education, Jones and Wilson
Audition, Michael Shurtleff
Backwards and Forwards, David Ball
Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
Comedy is a Serious Business, Harry Ruskin
Days and Nights at The Second City, Bernie Sahlins
Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsch
Film Directing: Shot by Shot, Steven Katz
Group Improvisation: The Manual of Ensemble Improv Games, by Peter Gwinn and Charna Halpern
Impro, Keith Johnstone
Improvisation for the theatre, Viola Spolin
Improvise, by Mick Napier
Improvising Better: A Guide for the Working Improviser by Jimmy Carrane
Instant Songwriting by Nancy Howland Walker
Introduction to Stanislavsky, Sonja Moore
Making Movies, Sidney Lumet
Musical Improv Comedy by Michael Pollock
On Directing, Harold Clurman
On Directing Film, David Mamet
Process, Mary Scruggs & Michael Gellman
Respect for Acting, Uta Hagen
Sanford Meisner on Acting, Sanford Meisner
Save the Cat, Blake Snyder
Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, Syd Field
Something Wonderful Right Away, Jeffrey Sweet
Speaking Clearly, Modisett and Luter
The Actor at Work, Robert Benedetti
The Comic Toolbox, John Vorhaus
The Compass, Janet Coleman
The Film Director’s Intuition, Judith Weston
The History of the Theatre, Oscar G. Brockett
The Inner Game of Tennis, W. Timothy Gallway
The Second City Almanac of Improvisation, Anne Libera
The Second City, Sheldon Patinkin
Upright Citizens Brigade Comedy Improvisation Manual, by Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts and Matt Besser
Standards of Conduct
By their very nature, improv theatre and comedy are artistic pursuits in which the boundaries of what is deemed socially “appropriate” and/or politically correct are often blurred and subject to interpretation. Words and/or conduct that offend one person may have no effect on another. The Training Centre does not endeavor to shield students from ideas and/or behavior that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive; indeed, the free exchange of ideas between students and their instructor(s) – even those that some may find objectionable – is vital to the creative process underlying great improv theatre. As such, students should approach their class work with an open mind, and take into the account the diversity of viewpoints, beliefs and backgrounds that make the programs at the Training Centre such a rich learning experience. By the same token, students should exercise good judgment when participating in class activities, and avoid engaging in conduct that rises to the level of abuse, such as targeted attacks directed at a particular individual. As a general rule, the Training Centre will not intervene to enforce social standards of civility. If, however, you feel that certain conduct – whether by an instructor or a student – has overstepped the bounds of what is acceptable even in an improv theatre/comedy setting, you may decline to participate and report the behavior to Julie Bronsteatter, Director of Human Resources. The Training Centre will investigate the matter and address the issue, as needed. There will be no retaliation against any student who in good faith raises a concern, reports an incident and/or participates in an investigation under this policy. Any student who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in any manner should report it immediately to Julie Bronsteatter.
Harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, is strictly prohibited. The Training Centre 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 is so severe or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with an individual’s participation in Training Centre programs, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment. Examples of prohibited harassment include, but are not limited to epithets, slurs or negative stereotyping; threatening, intimidating or hostile acts; denigrating jokes directed at an individual based on his or her personal characteristics, which do not serve any class-related function and/or fall outside the bounds of what is acceptable in the classroom, as set forth in the Training Centre’s Civility policy.
Sexual harassment in particular is strictly prohibited. Sexual harassment encompasses a range of conduct from sexual assault (which is also a criminal act) to conduct such as unwanted touching or persistent unwelcome comments, sexual advances, propositions and/or requests for sexual favors, depending on the specific circumstances and context in which the conduct occurs. For example, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or sexually-directed remarks or behavior constitute sexual harassment when (i) submission to or rejection of such conduct is made, explicitly, or implicitly, a basis for an academic decision or professional advancement, or a term or condition of either; or (ii) such conduct is directed against an individual despite its rejection. On the other hand, sexual innuendo or suggestive comments, gestures or jokes made in the course of a class exercise or performance may not be considered impermissible sexual harassment, if they serve an educational and/or artistic purpose.
Please note that due to the unique nature of the improv theatre/comedy setting, a person’s subjective belief that behavior is offensive, intimidating or hostile does not necessarily render that behavior harassment under this policy. Rather, the behavior must be objectively unreasonable in light of the surrounding circumstances and context. Such expression will not constitute impermissible harassment unless (in addition to satisfying the above definitions) it is targeted at a specific person or persons, is abusive and/or serves no educational purpose.
Any student who experiences or witnesses harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, whether from a fellow student or a faculty member, should feel free to discuss the problem with Julie Bronsteatter and, if desired, request that she speak informally to the person complained about. No one at the Training Centre – whether a faculty member or a student – may reprimand, retaliate or discriminate against an individual for raising a concern, making a complaint and/or participating in an investigation under this policy. Any individual who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in any manner should report the matter to Julie Bronsteatter.
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. Where possible, the Training Centre will attempt to resolve the issue informally (for example, by speaking to the alleged harasser and/or counseling the parties). However, this does not preclude more formal corrective or disciplinary action.
Consensual Relationships Between Faculty and Students
It is against Training Centre policy for students and instructors to enter and/or engage in romantic and/or sexual relationships with one another while the instructor is teaching the student in a class and/or supervising the student’s work at the Training Centre. Consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships between instructors and Training Centre students not enrolled in a class the instructor is teaching, while not forbidden, generally are considered unwise and inappropriate. Please note that even where both parties have consented at the outset to a romantic and/or sexual involvement, such consent does not preclude a subsequent charge of sexual harassment against the instructor.
Sexual Assault Policy
Sexual assault is a criminal act that violates the standards of our community and is unacceptable at the Training Centre. The Training Centre’s Sexual Assault policy applies to students, instructors, staff, and visitors, as well as vendors, contractors and third parties.
Sexual assault is defined as:
- Any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by an individual, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks of the victim without the consent of the victim;
- Touching or fondling of an individual by the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will; or
- Any non-consensual acts involving sexual penetration of the sex organs, anus, or mouth.
Use of alcohol or drugs may impair an individual’s capacity to consent freely and may render an individual incapable of giving consent.
Any student who believes he or she has been sexually assaulted, whether by a fellow student, faculty member or visitor, should report the incident to Julie Bronsteatter or Abby Wagner. The student is also encouraged to report the incident to the police and seek medical care as soon as possible. No one at the Training Centre – whether a faculty member or a student – may reprimand, retaliate or discriminate against an individual for raising a concern, making a complaint and/or participating in an investigation under this policy. Any individual who believes that he or she has been retaliated against in any manner should report the matter to Julie Bronsteatter or Abby Wagner.
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. Depending on the severity of the incident and the individuals involved, the Training Centre may pursue the matter through internal disciplinary procedures without the cooperation of the victim. Under such circumstances, the Training Centre will inform the victim of its decision to proceed in this manner.
The Training Centre maintains a zero tolerance policy for violence. Acts or threats of physical violence which involve or affect Training Centre faculty, students and staff or which occur on Training Centre / Second City property, will not be tolerated. Examples of prohibited threats or acts of violence include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Hitting or shoving an individual
- Physically injuring another individual
- Threatening an individual or his/her family, friends, or property with harm, or otherwise engaging in behavior that creates a reasonable fear of injury in another person
- Intentional destruction or threatening to destruct Training Centre / Second City property
- Making/sending harassing or threatening phone calls, text messages, and emails
- Harassing surveillance or stalking
- Unauthorized possession or use of firearms or weapons
Every student is encouraged to report incidents of threats or acts of physical violence of which he/she is aware. The report should be made to Julie Bronsteatter or Abby Wagner. Please note that this policy does not apply to fictitious “threats” or simulated “acts” of violence made in the course of your work at the Training Centre.
The Training Centre prohibits all persons who enter Training Centre / Second City 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 Training Centre / 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
The use, sale, manufacture, cultivation, distribution, dispensation, possession of illegal drugs or other unauthorized, intoxicating, or controlled substances while on Training Centre / Second City property, or while otherwise engaged in Training Centre activities, is strictly prohibited. The term “controlled substances” is defined as any substances that are illegal or controlled by federal and/or state law, including lawful substances (such as prescription drugs) which have been improperly obtained and/or used in violation of their lawful prescription.
Students are prohibited from having any such illegal or unauthorized controlled substances in their systems while attending class and/or engaged in Training Centre activities. Outside alcohol consumption or illegal drug activity that impacts a student’s class work or participation in Training Centre activities and/or threatens the reputation of the Training Centre / Second City will not be tolerated.
The only exception to this policy applies with respect to alcoholic beverages served and consumed at Training Centre-sponsored or Training Centre-approved social or business-related functions or meetings, provided that the student consumes alcohol responsibly and in moderation and does not become intoxicated or otherwise impaired. Alcohol consumption by Training Centre employees, volunteers, students or guests who are under the age of 21 is strictly prohibited.
Students who violate the Training Centre’s Drug and Alcohol policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including permanent expulsion from the Training Centre and/or referral for prosecution of criminal violations.
Student Whistleblower Policy
Students must immediately report to Julie Bronsteatter or Abby Wagner any activity or conduct that they suspect is:
- Illegal, or a violation of any state or federal law and/or regulation; or
- A serious violation of Training Centre policy and/or procedure, including the above-stated policies regarding violence, use of drugs and/or alcohol and weapons; or
- Otherwise inappropriate and/or unethical.
The Training Centre will not retaliate against any student as a result of his or her report of inappropriate conduct under this policy, or because he or she has refused to follow an illegal, inappropriate and/or unethical request.
Reports of inappropriate conduct under the policy may be submitted on a confidential basis by the student directly or may be submitted anonymously. The Training Centre will endeavor to investigate the reported conduct as discreetly as possible under the applicable circumstances. Reports of violations or suspected violations will be kept confidential to the extent possible, consistent with the need to conduct an appropriate investigation.
Handling of Reported Violations
Upon receipt of a report of inappropriate conduct under this policy, the Training Centre shall conduct a prompt and thorough investigation and appropriate corrective action will be taken, if/as warranted.
Open Door Policy
The Training Centre 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.
Students who have a question, problem, suggestion and/or complaint should feel free to discuss the issue with Abby Wagner. There will be no retaliation for raising a concern under this policy. Any issues raised or discussions held pursuant to the Training Centre’s Open Door Policy will be treated with confidentiality unless the student agrees to include others in the discussion or an investigation into the matter is warranted, in which case, confidentiality will be maintained to the extent practicable without compromising the investigation.
Please note that the Training Centre’s Student Whistleblower and Open Door policies do not apply to complaints of harassment or sexual assault. Students who wish to report an incident of harassment or sexual assault must follow the complaint procedures set forth in the Training Centre’s Anti-Harassment and Sexual Assault policies.
Immediate Dismissal or Expulsion
If at any point during class, the instructor feels that a student is engaging in behavior which is threatening, dangerous and/or highly disruptive to the classroom ensemble, the instructor may require that the student leave the classroom for the remainder of that day’s class. Students dismissed from class in this manner may not return to their regular class until they have spoken with someone from the Training Centre office. Behavior which would result in immediate dismissal includes, but is not limited to threats or acts of violence, inebriation and/or severe impairment due to use of drugs and/or other controlled substances, violation of the Anti-Harassment and/or Civility policies or other actions which are disruptive to the work of the class, in the discretion of the Training Centre. If behavior is deemed excessively disruptive or dangerous to the Training Centre environment, the Training Centre reserves the right to permanently expel a student from the Training Centre as well as the extended Second City property.
Students who display behavior which an instructor deems to be detrimental to the progress of their ensemble may be issued a warning. The instructor gives the warning verbally and then notifies the Training Centre office. If a student receives more than one warning for similar issues, the Program Head will be notified and appropriate action will be taken. Depending on the circumstances, students may be required to transfer classes, repeat a term, take a leave of absence from The Training Centre or to leave the Training Centre permanently. Examples of conduct considered detrimental to the progress of the ensemble include, but are not limited to, excessive lateness, missing more than one of the scheduled classes (even excused absences), inappropriate classroom behavior (including being under the influence of drugs and/or other controlled substances), harassment of another student or Training Centre employee, and/or inability to keep up with class progress.
Toronto Training Centre