CCL Training Center Policies
The CCL Training Center offers a wide variety of classes for students of all types, from seasoned improvisers to first-time performers. Before you sign up for a class, take a moment to learn more about our curriculum or check out our FAQ (at right) for more information).
Or, if you really like fine print, see below for more information about the Training Center's policies.
- Curriculum Overview
- The CCL Training Center Philosophy
- The Improv Core Curriculum
- The Music Improv Core Curriculum
- General Course Information
- Course Length
- Class Performances
- Cost of Courses
- Training Center Location
- Registration and Payment
- Registering for a Course
- Initial Placement
- Passing Courses
- Skipping Courses
- Repeating Courses
- Completion of the Core Programs
- Absences and Lateness
- Makeup Sessions
- Evaluations and Feedback
- Evaluation of Students
- Evaluation of Instructors
- Seeing Shows
The CCL Training Center offers two Core Curricula: the Improv Core Curriculum and the Music Improv Core Curriculum. Students are allowed and encouraged to enroll simultaneously in both programs.
Chicago City Limits was founded by, and is still run by, improvisers who trained with Del Close at The Second City workshops in the late 1970's. Del's workshops instilled a few simple but crucial ideas in our company, ideas that still shape how we improvise:
- The best improvisation is emotionally truthful
- The best improvisers connect emotionally to the situations and characters they embody on stage
- The best improvisational training gives students the skills to create rich scenes and to play those scenes in an emotionally grounded way
The CCL Training Center aims to give students complete training in CCL's style of emotionally truthful, narratively complex, theatrically presented improvisation. Our Improv Core and Music Improv Core Curricula are designed to build the improvisational and musical skills necessary to create dynamic, grounded scenes of the type on display in the CCL show.
The Improv Core Curriculum consists of four levels. Levels I and II introduce students to the building blocks of improvisation and the techniques of successful scenework. Level III consists of multiple Core Elective courses—shorter courses that focus on more specific topics like physical characterization, building narrative, etc.—and students are encouraged to enroll in multiple Electives at the same time. Level IV is a performance workshop that teaches students the Chicago City Limits show.
The Music Improv Core Curriculum also consists of four levels. Levels I and II give students a grounding in the basics of song-building, melody and structure. Level III consists of multiple Core Elective Courses—focusing on topics like songwriting from improv, constructing more complex rhymes, etc.—and students are encouraged to enroll in multiple Electives at the same time. Level IV is a performance workshop that teaches students the musical forms used in the CCL show, including improvising full-length musicals.
Most courses at the CCL Training Center consist of eight 3-hour sessions, and meet once per week for eight weeks.
Intensive sessions compress the eight sessions into fewer than eight weeks, usually two sessions per day for a week.
Core Elective (Improv Music Improv Level III) courses consist of four 3-hour sessions, and meet once per week for four weeks. After completing prerequisites, students are encouraged to enroll in more than one Core Elective simultaneously.
All courses at the CCL Training Center culminate in a class performance on the CCL stage.
Most courses are $295. Core Elective (Improv and Music Improv Level III) courses are $195.
A discount of $25 is available to any student who registers for a course more than four weeks in advance. A discount of $50 is available to any student who refers another student to the CCL Training Center.
All courses meet at the CCL Training Center unless otherwise specified. The Training Center is located at 318 West 53rd Street (between 8th and 9th Aves.), in room 207a.
Registrations are not complete, nor are slots in classes held for a student, until full payment has been received by the Training Center staff.
If a student wishes to cancel a registration after payment has been received, the following partial refunds are available:
More than a month in advance: Full refund (minus $40 administrative fee)
More than a week in advance: 50% refund (minus $40 administrative fee)
Less than a week in advance: No refunds are available
Interested students may audit the first session of any course. There is a $25 fee for auditing. If a student decides to take a course after auditing the first session, the $25 fee will be applied toward the full cost of the course.
Generally speaking, all students will begin training at the CCL Training Center in Level I of our Improv and Music Improv Core Curricula and advance to higher levels as they complete each course.
Rare exceptions may be made, depending on a student's unique circumstances and on their performance in our courses; such exceptions are detailed below.
All placement decisions will be made by the Training Center staff in close consultation with instructors. All such decisions will be final.
Certain classes are open to anyone, including all Level I classes and courses outside the Core Curricula (including intensives, audition workshops, etc.). Students will generally start both the Improv and Music Improv Core Curricula in Level I.
Exceptions may be made in rare cases. If a student indicates that they have prior improv experience, the Training Center staff may allow that student to enroll in a higher level course. In such a case, instructors will evaluate the student after two weeks of class and give the Training Center staff a recommendation as to whether the student should continue as placed or move back to a previous Level.
At the end of each Level of the Core, instructors will make a recommendation to the Training Center staff as to whether each student should progress to the next Level of the Core, skip the next level of the Core, or repeat the current Level of the Core. These recommendations will be based solely on an assessment of each student’s progress as an improviser, and will be given with the goal of developing each student’s skills as fully as possible.
A student will be considered to have completed a Level of the Core if they have attended a full session of that Level AND their instructor at that Level has recommended that they move on to the following Level.
Students who have completed Level II of a Core Curriculum will be eligible to enroll in Core Elective courses in that program. These courses are highly recommended, as their narrow focus allows instructors to give more precise feedback and gives students a chance to develop specific valuable skills. Core Electives may be taken simultaneously with one another within a Core, and simultaneous enrollment in multiple Core Electives is highly encouraged. Progression to ensuing Levels of each Core is contingent upon the successful completion of two Core Electives.
In rare cases, an instructor may, after the first two weeks of class, recommend that a student have the option of skipping a Level and enrolling directly in a class two Levels above the student's highest completed class. In such cases, the Training Center staff will determine the student’s placement and, if applicable, notify the student of the option to skip the next Level.
In rare cases, an instructor may, after the first two weeks of class, recommend to the Training Center staff that a student be asked to advance to the next level or return to a previous Level. In such cases, the Training Center staff will determine the student's placement and, if applicable, notify the student that they are being asked to repeat a Level. At that time the student may choose to repeat the previous Level or to receive a full refund for their registration.
Upon completion of Level IV of either the Improv or Music Improv Core Curricula, students are eligible to audition for permanent performing groups at Chicago City Limits. In rare cases, students might also be invited to audition for the Chicago City Limits National Touring Company. Completion of either Core does not, however, guarantee placement on either a permanent performing group at Chicago City Limits or an invitation to audition for the Chicago City Limits Touring Company.
Students are expected to attend, and to be on time for, all class sessions.
Students may miss class sessions if need be, but no make-up sessions are available. Students are not eligible for partial refunds for missed sessions.
If a student believes they may be late for a class session, they must notify the Training Center in advance; simply arriving late will not be tolerated, and students arriving late may be asked to leave.
In each course, instructors will give two personal evaluations to each student, one at the midway point of the course and one after the course is complete. Students are encouraged to seek additional feedback from their instructors.
Students will be asked to evaluate their instructors at the end of each course. If students have comments on their instructors beyond the scope of regular instructor evaluations, they are encouraged to contact the Training Center and speak to the staff.
CCL Training Center students are not required, but are highly encouraged, to see as many performances as possible—of all types—during the time they are enrolled in Training Center classes. This goes especially for improv shows, and doubly so for the CCL show.
In light of our desire for students to be exposed to as many performances as possible, all of our students will be admitted to the CCL show free of charge while they're enrolled in courses at the Training Center. Guests of our students will be admitted for half price during that interval.