You’ve got Class questions, we’ve got a Class F.A.Q.
What’s expected of me?
Our introductory class, 101, is fairly laid back, as maintaining a spirit of playfulness is central to what we do.
We ask that you show up on time and ready for an evening of focused play. “Play” means that you are encouraged to shake off the baggage of the daily grind before walking in. Everyone wants to have a good time. “Focused” means turning your cell phone off, participating cheerfully with your classmates, and accepting the feedback of your instructor.
What should I wear?
We realize that many people come straight from work, and its not always practical to completely change outfits before class begins. If possible, we ask that you wear clothes you can move around in and that you can get dirty. Improv is a physical art. If you have the impulse to crawl across the ground in your scene, we don’t want your clothes to stop you.
Shoes, however, are very important. You should wear a sneaker or something equally comfortable and safe. Heels, open toed shoes, sandals, are all not recommended as getting your foot stepped on is an occupational hazard of some of our more physical games.
Can I bring food or drink?
No food should be eaten during class except when a medical necessity (blood sugar, pregnancy, etc.) So, if you are trying to cram in something quick between work and class, please be finished prior to your class’s start time.
As for a beverage, YES. We actually encourage you to bring bottled water to class to keep you hydrated. However, any non-alcoholic beverage is welcomed. (There is no consumption of alcoholic beverages, regardless of age, at a Philadelphia School of Improv class.)
What’s the refund policy?
The Philadelphia School of Improv classes are non-refundable from time of purchase. However students with special circumstances may request a deferral which would allow them to postpone their entry into classes until the following term. Deferrals are not available as of the second class in the original term. Students who continue to defer their class credit past one year from date of original purchase lose all claim to the credit and must pay tuition again to begin classes. Likewise, students may only defer once. Therefore, if a student signs up for a class and then defers to a class in a later term, deferring from that class will not be possible. The student would have to discontinue.
Discontinuing Class: Any student failing to attend class without notifying the Education Director of an intention to defer, waives their tuition and is not entitled to a refund. Likewise, after the day of the second class session no deferral is allowed, and failure to continue with class is a discontinuance regardless of notification.
Ejection from Class: Though it has never been necessary, The Philadelphia School of Improv reserves the right to remove someone from our program for disciplinary reasons. These include but are not limited to: sexual harassment or otherwise inappropriate treatment of a student, teacher, or other person, any violence or other acts of aggression or intimidation, as well as any other behavior that is judged by the instructor and the Education Director to be detrimental to the class experience. Detrimental behavior includes but is not limited to: attending class while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, bullying, or pervasive negativity or resistance to the material. Students ejected from class are not entitled to a refund, and ejection in no way prevents The Philadelphia School of Improv or other students in class from further legal action should the situation warrant.
Do I have to graduate the Education Program to audition for ComedySportz?
ComedySportz occasionally has auditions that are open to the public. However, no training in the city is better at preparing people to do ComedySportz, than a The Philadelphia School of Improv class, especially the ComedySportz (CSz) Track. It single-handedly equips students with the games, genres, and musical styles our players rely on to do their show. Likewise, the introductory and scene work levels (101 & 201) prepare students to perform in ComedySportz’s unique style of play.
What’s the structure of The Philadelphia School of Improv Program?
The Philadelphia School of Improv offers two complete, four level programs designed to take an improv novice and train them to have thorough foundation of either game-based (short form) improv or long form improv.
The curriculum is designed to be taken sequentially, with latter classes building on the skills developed in the former.
What is “Short form”?
Short form is the oldest and most common form of improvised comedy around the world. TV shows like “Whose Line is it Anyway?” and Nick Cannon’s “Wild n’ Out” are examples of this type of entertainment.
The average short-form improv show consists of a series of theater games that last normally 3-6 minutes each. Common hallmarks of a short-form show are a host (in our case, a referee) who comes to the audience in between the games to ask for suggestions and/or to explain how the next game works.
Short-form games are usually defined by their rules – the tasks the actors must accomplish or the boundaries they must operate within to perform the game. For instance, in the game of “New Choice,” the players must instantly change their last line of dialogue whenever asked to do so by the referee. Hence, when required, the players must present a “new choice.”
The term “short-form” demonstrates the contrast of this style of play from the newer American tradition of “long-form.” In long-form, another Chicago favorite, an ensemble of performers improvise for a sizeable period of time (usually anywhere from 25 minutes to two hours) without stopping.
Where did Short form come from?
Short-form or “game-based” improvisation is the original form of unrehearsed performance improv. The earliest record of it in America is noted in Janet Coleman’s The Compass. The Compass Players, commonly believed to be America’s first improv troupe would, in addition to their signature “scenario plays,” play improv games like “Story” as part of their shows.
These games evolved from Viola Spolin’s theater games and were then transposed through her son, Paul Sills, one of the Compass’s founders, into performance games for the stage. While several acting traditions throughout world history have employed improvisation as a method of actor training, American Short-Form may well be the first time a group of actors have ever stood on a stage ready to act with no pre-planned ideas of what their resulting scenes would depict.