New Improv Program: UCB Academy


Questions/Comments about the NY Class Program

Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:07 pm

allyb wrote:This sounds great for those who are the best of the best but for those in ASH now who may not get into the academy it seems like a bait and switch.

Would you consider another tier? Teachers of 301 are now the gatekeepers for people to get into 401. Then those who do get into 401 can continue to ASH. That way at least those in ASH aren't back with all levels. If you thought that everyone benefits by playing w/ all levels all the time you wouldn't have created the Academy.

Thanks for your thoughts.


Our Advanced Study program had gotten bigger and bigger. And it's goal was to offer very high level classes, but the only way to do that was via teacher selected classes. Sometimes teachers had to select 16 names from a list of 200 plus students. It wasn't sustainable.

The Academy replaces Adv Study in terms of that goal. The 2 year time limit helps us rotate people in or out and make sure we are always serving the best. Keep in mind this isn't a 20 person program. While I don't know the exact size, it should be easier to get into the Academy then onto Lloyd Night. But it will be tougher than the current Adv Study.

Advanced Study's new purpose is to offer classes to people who want to take more classes. That's a simple goal, but they classes will be aimed at teaching forms, working skills, doing things that aren't as likely to be as dependent on having a consistent level of students. Our 401 classes currently get a wide range of students, but I think they serve everyone pretty well. Our Adv Study will aim to do that.

Adding a 301 gatekeeper or keeping Adv Study as something you need to apply for would just force people to retake 301 or 401 over and over again. That's a complaint we are seeing. Those 401 students will gain more from taking a variety of classes. And being encouraged to work outside of our school (they are no longer forced to take our classes just to get into a program).

I don't love the idea of adding more barriers to people. We are making a new barrier and removing an old one.

I hope that Adv Study classes are still good. They will be different from current ones. If they aren't good we will continue to work to make them better.

I also am sorry this feels like a "bait and switch" - our classes come with no guarantee about house team status and no guarantee with what you will do after 401. Our goal is simply to give you the tools and lessons to get better at improv. I hope we are BETTER suited for that now.

I think a bait and switch would be, after 401, you need to take 501 and 601 before getting into Adv Study. You started 101 thinking it was a 4 level course, and now it's 6. Instead we are trying to make those 4 levels as strong as possible. We are trying to make what you do after stronger by creating two products instead of one trying to do 2 things.

I hope this answers your question!
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby ss59 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:58 am

Couple other questions:

Who'll be teaching Academy classes? Or, I suppose: what are the prerequisites for being able to teach in the Academy? Will the pay be any higher?

Will Academy students be cleared to coach? If yes, are you concerned they might use this new status to inflate their rates compared to other coaches?

Clearly a lot of thought and planning has been put into this. Are there any plans in the works to reduce the cost of being on house teams? Or to create more performance opportunities beyond house teams?

Thanks!
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:22 pm

ss59 wrote:Couple other questions:

Who'll be teaching Academy classes? Or, I suppose: what are the prerequisites for being able to teach in the Academy? Will the pay be any higher?

Will Academy students be cleared to coach? If yes, are you concerned they might use this new status to inflate their rates compared to other coaches?

Clearly a lot of thought and planning has been put into this. Are there any plans in the works to reduce the cost of being on house teams? Or to create more performance opportunities beyond house teams?

Thanks!


I think you are misunderstanding how the Academy will work. These classes will be at the same price scale as all of our classes, so teachers won't get paid more. The teachers for the Academy will be the same teachers that have taught Advanced Study classes in the past. My hope is that most teachers who teach in the Academy will still offer classes to Advanced Study.

The Training Center has no authority to decide who can or can not coach. Lots of people coach who I've never met. Some are good. Some are not. I hope students only hire coaches that they feel gives them the best chance to improve. If that happens, good coaches will get more work. If someone charges a lot because they are in the Academy that's their decision. But if they aren't a good coach, I hope they don't get much work. If they are a good coach I hope people get what they pay for. Being a good improviser or student does not guarantee you are a good coach. And vice versa. I talked about this on an episode of Long Form Conversation (download wherever you get you your podcasts)

I don't work for the theater so I can't comment on any performer pay issues. I would say, this program adds no new revenue to our school. Any Academy class we add, replaces another level class (we are limited by rooms and times not by a lack of programs). Since Academy classes don't cost more, the net gain is nothing. (If anything this adds more work) - but I do hope it makes the entire Improv Program more enjoyable. It makes our top classes better and allows more students access to additional classes. The Academy program not having a lifetime student base will also allow us more ability to change and modify how it works so we can cater to our students without needing to create an entirely new program again. It also lets us know how many people are in the Academy (we never really knew how many people considered themselves current Advanced Study students) and that information can be used to better use this program.

We've been working on this for years, and it's to make the Training Center a better program.

I don't know how it will be leveraged for future house team auditions. I suspect the theater hasn't even decided that yet, as they have time to sit back and see how this program works before deciding. And the house team process has always had the ability to change from year to year, so even if The Academy is leveraged for an audition, there's no reason they have to do that every time.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby ss59 » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:55 pm

Got it. Thanks!

I am confused about this though:

Any Academy class we add, replaces another level class (we are limited by rooms and times not by a lack of programs). Since Academy classes don't cost more, the net gain is nothing.


I thought one of the problems the Academy aims to solve is that only a limited number of people can currently take advanced classes, and the process selecting them is logistically difficult/subjective/unsustainable. Unless I'm misunderstanding, won't there now be fewer advanced classes open to hundreds more people? How does this meaningfully open up the program?
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:02 pm

ss59 wrote:Got it. Thanks!

I am confused about this though:

Any Academy class we add, replaces another level class (we are limited by rooms and times not by a lack of programs). Since Academy classes don't cost more, the net gain is nothing.


I thought one of the problems the Academy aims to solve is that only a limited number of people can currently take advanced classes, and the process selecting them is logistically difficult/subjective/unsustainable. Unless I'm misunderstanding, won't there now be fewer advanced classes open to hundreds more people? How does this meaningfully open up the program?


I explain that in the original post - but I am happy to parse that for you Seth, but first can I ask you a question? Do you plan to change the headline to your most recent UCB opinion piece, since this new program is not a new revenue stream?
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby ss59 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:23 pm

Yep, I've changed the headline and updated the post to reflect this. Thank you!
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:36 pm

ss59 wrote:Yep, I've changed the headline and updated the post to reflect this. Thank you!


"So for every Academy class added, one Advanced Study class will be removed."

This statement is not true, as I stated above: "Any Academy class we add, replaces another level class"

We don't plan on only removing Advanced Study classes to create our Academy classes. We might remove some. We will definitely need fewer 401s (because far fewer students will need to retake 401) - and our other core classes might see some reduction. Offered classes fluctuate slightly all the time, so there's no set number of each level (and as demand changes we try to adjust what we offer). Please update that part of your article too.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby ss59 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:29 pm

Ah- fixed.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kateconnors1 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:38 am

Sorry if this information was already provided.
When will the auditions for the academy begin and how often will they occur?

Thank you.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby tanouye » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:53 pm

kateconnors1 wrote:Sorry if this information was already provided.
When will the auditions for the academy begin and how often will they occur?

Thank you.


kevhines wrote:How does the UCB Academy audition process work?

Once a student has successfully completed Improv 401 with a grade of Pass or Superior, they are automatically eligible to audition for UCB Academy. In the first year (2018), there will be three audition sessions; the first one will be in Spring of 2018 (exact date will be announced soon) and then will occur every 3-4 months so as to not make 401 grads wait too long between auditions. The audition format will be made clear to auditioning students ahead of time but will include essential Harold skills.

Audition sign ups will happen via an online form accessible via the student dashboard.
Erik Tanouye
School Manager
(also Improv/Sketch teacher and performer)
UCB Training Center
520 Eighth Ave, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10018
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