New Improv Program: UCB Academy


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New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:01 pm

New Improv Program: UCB Academy

We are introducing a new improv program to live alongside our core improv classes (101, 201, 301, 401) and our Advanced Study Program (which will undergo some changes - see below!). This new program is called UCB Academy, so you know it’s serious.

What is the UCB Academy?

UCB Academy is a new program meant for improv students at the UCB Training Center who are ready for a more committed study of improvisation. Entrance into the two-year conservatory program is achieved through auditioning in front of select Training Center faculty after passing the core improv program (101-401). The goal of the UCB Academy is for our best students to work with our best teachers in a rigorous environment. Classes will cover intense scene work, new forms, further study of the Harold and will include performance classes where students are able to have much more experience on stage in front of a live audience.

(NY Only) Academy classes will select students via a weighted lottery system, instead of the first come, first served method of our core classes. There will be no limit on how many Academy classes you can take a year.

How is The Academy different from the Advanced Study Program?

The Advanced Study program was created to be a place for the best and most dedicated students to take a high level of classes, but over the years it has not always lived up to that goal. Previously, admittance to the higher level program was gained through a “single-gatekeeper system.” An individual 401 teacher admitting her/his students into the program, even based on a curriculum-based rubric, will naturally be at least somewhat subjective. Additionally, without a time limit set on Advanced Study, many students stayed in the program longer than was beneficial for their development. As result, a wider range of students made up the Advanced Study student body which led to classes that didn’t always have students who were prepared for the goals of the course. So the Academy will replace Advanced Study in terms of meeting the goal of creating a challenging environment where our students and faculty can thrive!

We think an audition process in front of multiple teachers and a more focused curriculum in a two-year program will benefit everyone involved.

What’s happening to the Advanced Study Program?

The Advanced Study Improv program will continue to exist but it will become a place for all students who have completed our core program. We don’t want to restrict further long form improv education to select students so courses will be for any student who wishes to improve their skills as an improviser and/or learn new long forms. There will be classes to further focus and practice with both the Harold and the Game of the Scene as well as courses in new forms.

Admittance to the Advanced Study program will now be open to anyone who has successfully completed the core improv program with a C (conditional pass), B (pass), or A (superior) grade. There is no longer an application process. Unlike UCB Academy, which is a two year program, Advanced Study will be open-ended.

(NY Only) Adv Study Classes will still be filled by randomly selecting students based on a weighted lottery system. Each student will be allowed to take up to 4 Advanced Study classes per year (that is an increase from 3 per year in the current system). We might further change these restrictions based on demand.

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.

What happens if I get a C (Conditional Pass) or D (repeat level) from my 401 instructor?

If you get a Repeat Level from your 401 instructor, that means they don’t think you have the basic skills to find the game of the scene and/or perform the Harold acceptably. You would need to repeat Improv 401 and get a Conditional Pass or higher to complete the core improv program.

If you get a Conditional Pass, that means your instructor assesses that you understand the basic concepts intellectually, but that you aren’t applying them in your scene work consistently. You would be allowed to take Advanced Study classes to bolster your skills. However you would need to retake 401 and get a Pass or Superior in order to audition for UCB Academy.

How many times can I audition for UCB Academy?

There is a lifetime limit of four auditions per student. If you are not granted admittance after the fourth audition, you will be able to continue to take classes in the Advanced Study program. Because there is a limit on auditions, students should be cautious and judicious with these auditions. If a student is not feeling prepared, they should consider not doing consecutive auditions and instead consider further Advanced Study classes and/or private coaching before signing up for another audition.

What classes do I need to take to be allowed to audition?

After you have qualified to audition (a pass or superior in 401), you are not required to take another class to audition. We do not want students to feel they need to keep taking the same class over and over again.

Since you can audition 4 times after completing 401 (with a B or better) you can work to improve your skills anyway you see fit. You can work outside the school with practice groups, or by forming/joining an indie team or you can choose to take classes in our Advanced Study Program. Or most likely some combination of those things. Do whatever works best for you. But you don't HAVE to take our classes between 401 and future auditions. We only want you to pay to take classes you want to take.


What about if I am on a House Improv Team at the UCB Theater?

We won’t make you audition. You will be in the program automatically. If you step down from your team or get cut then you will be treated as if you just joined the program and won’t need to audition for 2 years.

What happens at the conclusion of the two year Academy Program?

You may choose to move on from the UCB Academy at that point or you may choose to re-audition for another two years of Academy. At this time we are not setting a number of courses required to maintain your Academy status. However, your academic experience will be reviewed as you re-audition and participation (or non-participation) in Academy classes will be considered in the decision to readmit a student to Academy. The idea is that students won’t remain in the program perpetually.

Will I still be able to take multiple 401s?

No. Once Academy launches all core improv levels are to be taken only once. These classes are building block courses and the intention is to learn those building blocks, then master the skills in elective or Advanced Study classes. Exceptions: Students who get a Repeat Level, or Conditional Pass and as always students who suspend their study at UCB for more than two years may be asked to repeat certain classes.

Will my diversity scholarship be eligible for UCB Academy classes?

Yes! Any credit you have through scholarship or work study can be applied to Academy classes or any UCB class so long as you are eligible for that class academically.

What about the Sketch program? How is that affected?

At this time, the Sketch program will remain the same; divided into two levels: Core Sketch 101-301 and Advanced Study Writing.

What does all of this mean in terms of auditioning for Harold/Lloyd/Mess Hall?

Requirements for auditioning for these programs are set by the UCB Theatre Artistic Directors of UCB LA and UCB NY. The artistic directors may choose to utilize this new program when deciding requirements for auditioning or they may not. The UCB Training Center’s focus is creating the best program we can in comedy training.

Anything Else?

Yes. Because this is a new program we expect a lot of the above could change as we put it into action.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby turkeybone » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:18 pm

(1) How will ASPs fit into UCB Academy? Will they still exist in the future or will they get absorbed by the Academy?Will there be Academy ASPs and "regular" ASPs? Will ASP teachers still have full control? Can you read their minds and tell us if they will only take Academy students? Is there a better acronym we can use than UCBAs?

(2) Is the Academy a set 2 year curriculum, or will it be more like "for these two years, you can take any Academy-level courses you wish"?

(3) A bigger question that probably can't be answer until next year (and probably will have much discussion), but will getting into Academy be a pre-req for auditions?

(4) Audition is always a loaded phrase -- are there a set number of openings in each Academy audition? Is it going to be x number of people vying for y spots? Or will each person who displays capability be able to enter the program?
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby ss59 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:35 pm

How much will the program cost? Thanks!
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:50 pm

turkeybone wrote:(1) How will ASPs fit into UCB Academy? Will they still exist in the future or will they get absorbed by the Academy?Will there be Academy ASPs and "regular" ASPs? Will ASP teachers still have full control? Can you read their minds and tell us if they will only take Academy students? Is there a better acronym we can use than UCBAs?

(2) Is the Academy a set 2 year curriculum, or will it be more like "for these two years, you can take any Academy-level courses you wish"?

(3) A bigger question that probably can't be answer until next year (and probably will have much discussion), but will getting into Academy be a pre-req for auditions?

(4) Audition is always a loaded phrase -- are there a set number of openings in each Academy audition? Is it going to be x number of people vying for y spots? Or will each person who displays capability be able to enter the program?


1) ASPs will move into Academy at some point. The next few will remains Adv Study - teacher select courses. But ASPs were courses built for students performing at a high level, so they fit in well with the Academy's goal.
Some of it will depend on the size of the Academy.

2) no set curriculum. Take what classes you want. But the classes will be aimed at more difficult concepts. The Adv Study classes that worked on those (say Thematic Harolds for example) will move into the Academy as those classes require students to be performing scene work at a stronger, more consistent level.

3) That's a question for the theater, and one they probably won't answer until the next audition approaches. We answer that above.

4) There will be a set size for the Academy, but that number will have a lot more wiggle room then say auditions onto house teams.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:53 pm

ss59 wrote:How much will the program cost? Thanks!


Joining the program is free. Each class will be sold individually, just like in all our programs. You are auditioning for access to theses higher level classes.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby JaimeLutz » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:00 pm

Hey Kevin! This all sounds very cool! So, I was on a house team and cut last year. Am I automatically in the academy? If so, is it for two years or one year? Thanks!
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 5:05 pm

JaimeLutz wrote:Hey Kevin! This all sounds very cool! So, I was on a house team and cut last year. Am I automatically in the academy? If so, is it for two years or one year? Thanks!


Unfortunately you have to be currently on a house team (we aren't retroactively adding people who used to be on teams to the academy).

its mostly a rule so we don't audition people who just successfully auditioned for a harder thing. It's a waste of time to do that. Most people on Harold Night in NY don't take classes. Lloyd people take some classes, and I hope we are able to offer more classes they are interested in taking under this system.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby allyb » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:29 pm

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.
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby lucymyrtue » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:15 pm

What does this mean for people who want to audition for Lloyd this year? Could I still technically make the cut off today to try and audition?... even though I was still waiting on my acceptance into advanced study?
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Re: New Improv Program: UCB Academy

Postby kevhines » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:56 pm

lucymyrtue wrote:What does this mean for people who want to audition for Lloyd this year? Could I still technically make the cut off today to try and audition?... even though I was still waiting on my acceptance into advanced study?


Lloyd Sign Ups are over - these changes have no effect on current Lloyd auditions.
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