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Long form Improv Classes

The iO Training Center Program is a five level, year long program that has been taught for over forty years in Chicago.

Our improv classes are designed for students of all level and skill. Whether you have zero experience, or years of experience, our long form improv program will teach you the skills and techniques needed to develop your voice, style, and unique form of self expression.

We are committed to creating an inclusive, welcoming environment where students can learn and practice the art of longform improvisation. Students of all ability and background are encouraged to try long form improv, no acting or comedy skills needed. Create something that has never been seen before and will never be seen again.

Classes meet once a week for 3 hours for 8 weeks.

TRAINING CENTER DATES FOR 2024
Session 1:  January 8th – March 3rd – Registration Closed
Session 2: March 4th – April 28th – Registration Closed
Session 3: April 29th – June 23rd – Registration Now Open
Session 4: June 24th – August 18th – Registration opens in May. No classes week of July 4th
Session 5: August 19th – October 13th – Registration opens in July
Session 6: October 14th – December 15th – Registration opens in September. No classes week of Thanksgiving.

View All ClassesContact the training center

Level 1: Ensemble

Level 1 is about building ensemble and fostering teamwork. Create trust, improve confidence, and have fun while building the foundational blocks of great improvisation. This class meets weekly for 3 hours for 8 weeks.

Monday Evening

Starts Monday, April 29th
7pm-10pm

Tuesday Evening

Starts Tuesday, April 30th
7pm-10pm

Wednesday Evening

Starts Wednesday, May 1st
6pm-9pm

Saturday Daytime

Starts Saturday, May 4th
12pm-3pm

Sunday Afternoon

Starts Sunday, May 5th
3pm – 6pm

Level 2: Character

Students will learn to use physicality, environment, and teamwork to develop unique characters within their scenes. Level 2 also teaches strong groupwork to build beautiful, artistic moments on stage. This class meets weekly for 3 hours for 8 weeks.

Monday Evening

Starts Monday, April 29th
7pm-10pm

Tuesday Evening

Starts Tuesday, April 30th
7pm-10pm

Wednesday Evening

Starts Wednesday, May 1st
6pm-9pm

Saturday Daytime

Starts Saturday, May 4th
12pm-3pm

Level 3: Scene Work

This level focuses entirely on two-person scenes. Truth in Comedy. Students will learn how to use groundedness and realness to their advantage when trying to create comedy. This class meets weekly for 3 hours for 8 weeks.

Monday Evening

Starts Monday, April 29th
7pm-10pm

Tuesday Evening

Starts Tuesday, April 30th
7pm-10pm

Wednesday Evening

Starts Tuesday, May 1st
6pm-9pm

Saturday Daytime

Starts Saturday, May 4th
12pm-3pm

Sunday Afternoon

Starts Sunday, May 5th
3pm-6pm

Level 4: Longform

Level 4 is where students will learn the structures and styles of different longform pieces. The Harold, Shotgun, Living Room, La Ronde, and more will all be learned. Learning the rules before we start breaking them. This class meets weekly for 3 hours for 8 weeks.

Monday Evening

Starts Monday, April 29th
7pm-10pm

Tuesday Afternoon

Starts Tuesday, April 30th
7pm-10pm

Saturday Daytime

Starts Saturday, March 4th
12pm-3pm

Sunday Afternoon

Starts Sunday, March 5th
3pm-6pm

Level 5: Advanced Longform

The final level of the longform program will have students create and perform their own unique form of longform improv. All of the lessons from previous classes will be combined and applied to develop a signature piece unique to each class. This class meets weekly for 3 hours for 8 weeks, and then culminates with an 8 week, weekly performance on Sunday evenings.

Monday Evening

Starts Monday, April 29th
7pm-10pm

Tuesday Evening

Starts Tuesday, April 30th
7pm-10pm

Saturday Daytime

Starts Saturday, May 4th
12pm-3pm

Intensive Programs

For those who don’t live in Chicago, or those seeking a condensed learning experience over a shorter period of time, iO Theater offers a variety of seasonal intensives.

Our Summer Intensive is a 5 week, 4 day a week, 6 hours a day program designed to cover everything from our regular training center program. Students of all background are welcome to sign up.

iO also offers short 1-week intensives in the spring and fall.

Email us with all your quesitons about travel, lodging, and studying at iO for 5 weeks.

Summer Intensive Program

July 8th – August 9th from 11am- 5pm Monday-Thursday. Registration now open!

Spring Break One Week Intensive

April 15th – April 19th from 11am-5pm Mon-Thur with an hour break for lunch from 1:00-2:00pm.

Workshops and Specialty Classes

Looking to work on a specific improv skill? Interested in trying some sketch or pilot writing? Friends and alumni of iO are always offering different workshops through our training center. Class lengths and number of meetings vary by each class, so learn more about our different workshops below.

Check back frequently as our workshop offerings are always changing.

Writing
Satire Writing with Nate Odenkirk

Starts March 18th

Monty Python Process with Howard Johnson

Starts March 3rd

SNL Sketch Packet with Howard Johnson

Starts March 3rd

Musical Improv
Music Improv for Improvisers

March 2nd 3:00 PM

Strengthen Your Voice Level 1 with Rachel Page

Starts March 6th

Improv in the Style of Hamilton with Shamilton The Musical

Starts March 5th

Narrative Improv with Baby Wants Candy

Starts April 4th

Youth & Teen Programming

Dive headfirst into the world of improvisational comedy, learning from experienced instructors who have honed their craft at the renowned iO Theater. Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, iO Theater has trained some of the funniest and most talented comedians in the world.
Students will build improv and performance skills that will translate to real life application in interviews, public speaking, making friends, college applications and more!
YOUTH
SUMMER CAMP: YOUTH IMPROV PROGRAM AGES 7-12

June 3rd-7th

June 17th-21st

June 24th-28th

Teen
SUMMER CAMP: Teen Improv Program Ages 13-17

June 3rd-7th

June 17th-21st

June 24th-28th

Meet The Instructors

Faculty

Jessica Rogers

Jessica Rogers has been performing, directing, and teaching improvisation throughout Chicago and around the world for more than two decades. She facilitates corporate trainings and can be seen on Thursday nights playing with The Armando Diaz Experience.

Jessica Rogers has been performing, directing, and teaching improvisation throughout Chicago and around the world for more than two decades. She facilitates corporate trainings and can be seen on Thursday nights playing with The Armando Diaz Experience.

Faculty

James Dugan

In his nearly 20 years of improv experience James Dugan has performed at The Second City, iO and The Annoyance. He can currently be seen in Clued In, Hitchcocktails, The Armando, Whirled News Tonight and in his duo Jaymes Gretchky.

James was born in Northern California but moved to Chicago to learn what this whole “winter” thing is. In his nearly 20 years of improv experience he has performed for The Second City, iO, The Annoyance, and any other stage in Chicago that will give him the chance. He currently can be seen with Clued In at Second City, Hitchcocktails at The Annoyance, The Armando and Whirled News Tonight at iO, and all over the country with his duo Jaymes Gretchky.

Faculty

Bill Arnett

Bill Arnett is a faculty member at the iO Theater.

Bill Arnett is a faculty member at the iO Theater.

Faculty

Emily Anderson

Emily Anderson has been performing improv in Chicago since graduating from Northwestern University. She studied and later performed at iO, The Second City, and The Annoyance Theatre, and appeared at Lookingglass Theatre in Her Honor, Jane Byrne.

Emily Anderson (she/her) has been performing improv in Chicago since graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Theatre and Creative Writing. She studied and later performed at iO, The Second City, and The Annoyance Theatre, and appeared at Lookingglass Theatre in Her Honor, Jane Byrne. She is also a faculty member at The Second City and has enjoyed leading workshops and classes across the country. At iO, she was mentored as a teacher by Susan Messing and Liz Allen, and is a cast member of Whirled News Tonight.

Faculty

Brad Pike

Brad Pike is a faculty member at the iO Theater.

Brad Pike is a faculty member at the iO Theater.

Faculty

Clayton Margeson

Clayton Margeson is a faculty member at the iO Theater.

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Faculty

Jonathan Lee-Rey

Jonathan Lee-Rey is an actor, writer, and filmmaker. Jonathan is the Executive Artistic Director of Stir Friday Night, a teacher at iO theater, and the Community Outreach Manager of Stepping Stone Theater.

Jonathan Lee-Rey is an actor, writer, and filmmaker from Yonkers, NY with a splash of the Bronx. Currently, he is based in Chicago where he is the Executive Artistic Director of Stir Friday Night, a teacher at iO theater, and the Community Outreach Manager of Stepping Stone Theater. Formerly he was on the iO Harold team Velvet and a member of Generation LatinX. He also made shorts with the iO Network team Free Trial Run.

Faculty

Gretchen Eng

Gretchen has taught improv around the world. She performs/produces The Armando and Devil's Daughter, frequently traveling with her duo partner James Dugan (as Jaymes Gretchky.)

Gretchen oversees professional development for iO and has taught improv around the world (and at Roosevelt University, where she is a professor in the Chicago College of Performing Arts). She grew up doing comedy around the city and currently performs/produces The Armando on Thursdays and Devil’s Daughter on Fridays, frequently traveling with her duo partner James Dugan (as Jaymes Gretchky.)

View all classes

Click to see a full list of all the classes and workshops currently open for registration.

Not ready to commit? Try our weekly drop-in!

Test it out and see how you like it! Our weekly 2 hour drop-in class offers a low stakes, fun way to try out improv for yourself! Taught by our best teachers- we think you’re going to love it!

Try it out

Improv For All

Improv training isn’t just for performers dying to get on stage; the principles you’ll learn in our classes will apply to any area of your life where you work with other people.

At iO, we believe that the best art is informed equally by all perspectives in a group, no matter your experience in improv, comedy, or acting.

You don’t have to have theater or comedy experience to be a great improviser. Just the desire to learn.  The fundamental building blocks of improvisation make us better listeners, coworkers, and family members, and friends.

Award Winning Instruction

Our teachers are not only the funniest performers in Chicago, they all believe in the power of ensemble and that every student brings something unique to their classrooms. Our program attracts students from around the world because our instructors practice what they preach on stages every night of the week.

Curriculum 40 Years in the Making

Passed down through the hands of generations of improvisers, our program is the gold standard for long form improv training across the world. We treat comedy as art and believe in the power of group mind, authenticity in scenework, and in thematic exploration through the forms that define Chicago improv.

Curated Feedback

Our class sizes ensure plenty of performing opportunity and our teachers offer highly  individualized insight tailored to your own journey as an improviser, classmate, and communicator.

View All Classes

Improv Scholarship

Interested in taking classes but financial constraints or some other hardship preventing you from doing so? iO Theater offers24 full ride scholarships each year. Scholarships apply only to our longform improv curriculum or Summer Intensive, not workshops or specialty classes. Click below to learn more.

Apply Here

Open at 6pm
Wed-Sun

How To Find Us

How To Get Here

iO is a five minute walk from the North/Clybourn Red Line and just two minutes from the 72 North Ave Bus. Limited free street parking is available nearby and several pay-to-park lots are located within one block.

FAQ

Have more questions? Check out our full FAQ page.

FAQ Page