SCWR 370 Comedic Improvisation for Filmmakers

Fall 2019-2020
Class number: 13185
Section number: 701
M 5:45PM - 9:00PM
SCITY 00208 Off Campus

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Course Description:

This course lays the foundation for successful improvisation in the current Chicago style, starting with the formation of the ensemble and exploring various elements of the creative process. Students experience what it means to be part of the greater whole, create freely without self-judgment, and develop tools of play that will make them better communicators and filmmakers.


Course Overview:

  • Structured activities around group experiential play, discovery, discourse among student and instructor on Second City’s legendary process and improv philosophy
  • Each class implements a creative (communication) tool and action that is deconstructed in a variety of engaging theatre and highly interactive improv exercises based on Viola Spolin’s work and Second City creative processes.
  • Students are challenged to expand their comedic sensibility, group mind and self-awareness through active manipulation of Who/What/Where, ideation, and premise generation

A final in-class demonstration and attendance to a Second City Touring company show allow students a collaborative space to improvise, create scenes and characters with their peers and witness a dynamic ensemble on stage. 


No Textbooks.

Handouts will be distributed as needed from the week's session. 



Class Attendance 30%

Collaboration and Participation 20%

Assignments 20%

Final In-Class Demonstration and Paper 30%


Assignments (20% of final grade)

  1. The instructor will communicate a topic, archive scene and/or exercise for you to write, pitch, discuss and review with specific details regarding character, scenic style, POV. Your response must be presented as indicated by the instructor. If it is a written assignment or pitch, your response must be a minimum of 100 words, double-spaced typed Word document pages. The document must then be saved as a PDF and submitted to the corresponding D2L Dropbox link by the assigned due date or handed in class.   re are a total of four assignments due in weeks 3, 5, 6 and 9. There are two required show attendances during weeks 8 or 9. Please inform your instructor immediately if you are not able to attend the required shows.  If there is a communication or problem with D2L, please inform the instructor immediately to rectify.



Collaboration and Participation (20% of final grade)

  1. Collaboration is contingent on your commitment to the process, group ensemble and taking individual risks in the exercises and working successfully with your peers. Lack of participation is not acceptable. Improvisation is built on the discovery and working collaboratively with the group to achieve a goal. Sharing your voice by asking questions and supporting your peers during improvisation group work engages you in the process as an active participant. Group discussion will be administered with completed assignments that are due upon the arrival of class. Late assignments or failure to submit timely assignments will affect group participation and grade.



Final Term Project (30% of final grade)

There are three components to your final project:

1. An in-class group demonstration and collaboration of simple scenic structure outlined by the professor

2. Attendance to a Second City Touring Company show and Urban Twist show

3. Personal reflection paper identifying three or more improv concepts provided by the professor

The writing portion of your final should be an analysis discussing the improv concepts used on stage and/or learned in the classroom and how these create useful devices in film, storytelling and character narratives. The instructor invites you to share your opinion of the scenes with specific examples of what you witnessed on stage and why you connected with the scene and character point of view and message.



School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296