Training Center Student Handbook

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Approved Catalog
  • Hours of Operation
  • Enrollment Policies
  • Enrollment
  • Evaluation
  • Attendance/Lateness
  • Failures
  • Make-Up Work
  • Transcripts
  • Code of Conduct
  • Suspension & Termination
  • Appeals
  • Credit for Previous Training
  • Course Transfers
  • Cancellation and Refund Policies
  • Complaint Procedure
  • Procedure for Obtaining a Refund
  • Calendar
  • Tuition and Fees
  • Administration
  • Faculty

APPROVED CATALOG

The contents of this catalog have been approved by the staff of the Philly Improv Theater Training Center. Students interested in a fuller understanding of how the PHIT Training center works, and the classes offered here are encouraged to read this approved school catalog.

HOURS OF OPERATION

The PHIT Training Center, located inside the Adrienne Theatre complex at 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 is open for operation from 12:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from 12:00 pm to 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Training Center Office is generally open starting one hour before the first scheduled class until the start of the last scheduled class each day.

ENROLLMENT POLICIES

All students applying to enroll in entry level classes at the Training Center will first have to agree to our Terms & Conditions of Enrollment, either on online or on paper, stating that they understand all of the following:

  1. That they have signed (either electronically or digitally) the enrollment policy and, by doing so, are agreeing to our terms and conditions.
  2. Students must be 18 years of age or older. (Students age 16-17 may enroll if a parent or legal guardian sign both our Terms & Conditions of Enrollment, and a Liability Release Form on paper).
  3. The student has agreed to pay full tuition price for the course before it begins. Placement is not secure until payment is received in full. A payment plan is available for some courses, but must be completed by the specified due date upon registration. Students who have not completed their payment plan payments risk the loss of their deposit, may not be allowed to continue in a course, or may be unable to continue into a future course until their balance is paid.
  4. Students must attend the full duration of the course.
  5. Students must be on time to class.
  6. Students are expected to see at least two live improvisation or sketch comedy performances at the Philly Improv Theater during the weeks their course is in session.
  7. Students agree that they will be held financially responsible for a portion of the course tuition should they decide to drop the course within a week of its first session (see Tuition & Fees)
  8. Students agree to adhere to the expected behavior outlined in our Code of Conduct.

For higher-level courses, elective courses, workshops, and master classes students must also meet all stated prerequisites and, in some cases, receive approval from their instructor and/or PHIT Training Center staff before gaining admittance to the class.

ENROLLMENT

Courses in the improv, sketch writing, and stand-up programs are offered on session basis, with five sessions held each calendar year.

Most courses meet in the evening, once a week. There are also some courses available in the afternoons – particularly on weekends.

On occasion, our training center will offer special intensive classes that meet multiple times a week over the course of one to four weeks. These offer the same training in a condensed amount of time.

All course enrollment occurs on a first-come, first-served basis. Students are responsible for choosing the course date and time that fits into their schedule and making either a payment in full to secure their space in a class, or payment plan payment to hold their space in a class until they complete their payments (which must occur before the start of the course). Course offerings are based on demand.

A full list of courses currently enrolling is available at: www.phitcomedy.com/classes/enroll-now/

EVALUATION

Students are evaluated on a pass/fail basis and do not receive formal grades. Promotion to the next level of study in a particular program track is contingent on the following criteria: attendance, ability to work well with others, seeing shows, and demonstration of course concepts through application in performance or writing.

Students are allowed two absences each course. If a student misses a third class, he or she will be dropped from the course and have to repeat the level.

Students are expected to attend two live performances at the Philly Improv Theater in their chosen area of study during the course of their class. These performances provide students with an opportunity to see course concepts put into action, and are considered a vital supplement to their work in class. Improv students must see improvised shows and sketch writing students must see sketch shows. Students who fail to meet the two show requirement will need to repeat the level before being admitted to a higher level course.

Instructors evaluate students throughout the course – looking for the demonstration of an understanding or the application of concepts within the curriculum from each student during in-class performances. Students demonstrate their understanding through discussion or the application of these concepts within the curriculum in improvised scenes for improv classes, in their writing for sketch classes, or in their writing and performance for stand-up classes.

The instructor uses proficiency scales to keep track of each student’s progress with course concepts. If the instructor feels that a student has not demonstrated a passable understanding of the concepts, the student will not be able to advance through the program. These students will be instructed to repeat the level (or another lower level course) if they want to continue their studies at the Philly Improv Theater Training Center.

Philly Improv Theater Training Center staff will notify students who do not meet necessary promotional criteria via email. Students are given specific reasons why they have not been promoted. If the decision is based on work in class they are told what specific skills and concepts they need remediation in. A specific course is recommended for remediation in these areas.

ATTENDANCE/LATENESS

Consistent and timely attendance is integral to the success of individual students and the class as a whole. Absences and lateness are disruptive to the team dynamic we strive to achieve in all of our classes. Students are expected and encouraged to attend all eight classes and report to each class at the scheduled start time.

Listed below are the guidelines for Attendance and Lateness during training classes:

    • In the event of an emergency, a maximum of two absences are allowed.
    • Students who are absent three or more times risk being removed from the course and will need to repeat the level at their own expense.
    • Students are expected to report to class at the scheduled start time ready to participate in warm-up exercises. Students who arrive 30 or more minutes after the start of the class, or leave 30 minutes prior to the end of class, without prior approval from their Instructor, will be marked absent.
    • Students who arrive within 30 minutes of the start of class are considered late.  Excessive lateness of four (4) or more times may result in removal from the course.

Students may appeal decisions resulting in their removal from the course by contacting the Education Director by email. Circumstances that could result in having the removal waived include documented death in the family, severe injury or illness, etc. The decision to reinstate a student is solely up to the discretion of the Education Director.

In certain serious cases, and at the sole discretion of the Education Director, a student may be approved for a leave of absence if they are able to demonstrate the need for a leave of absence is imperative.  Students who are requesting a leave of absence should do so by emailing the Education Director with a detailed explanation for the request. All requests for a leave of absence will be manage on a case by case basis.

Students who return from an approved leave of absence within one year of the request, will be placed in a course at the same level in which he or she left. The student will be expected to start this new course over at the first session, regardless of how far along the student was in the previous course when the leave of absence began.

FAILURES

We are happy to say the majority of our students successfully complete their respective levels. There are some scenarios however, where a student can fail a course and will have to repeat the course at their own expense if they so choose and/or are permitted to continue with the training program.

  • Students who have three absences or who do not attend two PHIT performances during their course may be subject to failure. In these instances, students are allowed to repeat the level (at their own expense).
  • Maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust in the classroom is critical to providing a successful learning environment. Students who exhibit any type of inappropriate behavior as described in this catalogue, or behavior not described here, but that would be deemed inappropriate by a reasonable person, may be removed from the class and receive a failing grade. The Education Director will conduct an investigation to determine if the student’s behavior rises to the level of failure and if the student will be permitted to continue with PHIT’s training program in the future.
  • Students who are unable, or unwilling, to grasp the key course concepts or who demonstrate a consistent lack of understanding may be subject to failure. The instructor will make every effort to work with students to improve their understanding provided the additional attention required does not severely hinder the progression of the other students and the group as a whole.
  • The Education Director or Class Registrar will notify students of failure via e-mail after the final graduation show of the session.

MAKE-UP WORK

Students who wish to make up material they have missed due to absence may have the opportunity to do so. Please keep in mind the following: 

  • Make-up classes are not mandatory to pass a course.
  • Make-up classes do not erase an absence.
  • The maximum amount of make-up classes that will be granted per student is two per course.
  • The first and last weeks of a class are not able to be made-up.
  • There are no make-ups in Improv 401.

Students who are approved for make-up classes will be placed in another class at the same level during the same week, covering the curriculum that they missed when they were absent, provided such a class is available. PHIT reserves the right to consider a class “closed” once the maximum amount of make-up students in a class is reached. PHIT cannot guarantee make-up classes for all students.

Students who wish to schedule a make-up class must follow the below Make-up Request process. 

  • Go to the make-up request form located on the Current Students page of the PHIT Site. If make-up requests are being accepted you will see a form to submit your request. If submissions have not yet opened, you will see a date on which you can return to submit your request.
  • Be sure that you are requesting your make-up class at least four hours prior to the start of your class as well as at least four hours prior to the requested make-up class.
  • Look at the list of available make-up options for your level. Select all sections that you are available for the week you will miss. Class weeks run Sunday through Saturday. Please be aware of this when submitting your request. For example, if your class is on Saturday, then you must select classes that happen from Sunday through Friday.
  • When your request is submitted you will receive an email approving or denying your make-up request. Do not show up to a class without first hearing back from the Training Center.

TRANSCRIPTS

The Training Center maintains digital student transcripts, attendance records, personal information, and other records, as deemed necessary, in order to keep records of the progress of individual students who study with the Philly Improv Theater Training Center.

CODE OF CONDUCT

Every student at the Philly Improv Theater Training Center has a right to learn in a safe, respectful environment.  Creative pursuits require trust and support, and our first job before all others is to create this type of environment so that the learning, creation, and performance we each come here to pursue can occur.

The Training Center does not shy away from controversial topics, and all students have the right to express themselves without a fear of censorship or judgment – but content dealing with race, gender, sexuality, etc. must treat these topics (and the individuals affected by them) in a creative, intelligent manner that demonstrates empathy – and never in the spirit of hurtfulness or mockery.

If a student is ever uncomfortable with the subject matter displayed, performed or referenced or is given an assignment that makes them uncomfortable, they may raise these concerns with their instructor of a member of the Training Center’s administrative staff. Separate from our Student Handbook, Philly Improv Theater maintains a Discrimination and Harassment Policy which students can access on our website.

In order to create a safe, open, and respectful creative environment, students are asked to agree to certain ground rules in regard to class conduct before enrolling in a class.

Inappropriate class conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Engaging in discriminatory behavior related to an individual’s sex (gender), race, national origin, ancestry, color, religion, age, genetic information, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, education status; or disability, or the use of a guide or support animal for disability, or relationship to a person with a disability, with other students or the the course instructor. Notwithstanding, Philly Improv Theater recognizes that greater tolerance is necessary for verbal or non-verbal expression or language pertaining to a protected characteristic made during the course of an artistic performance or theatrical production when such expression or language is related to the theme or message of the performance or production and not devoid of any literary, artistic or political value.
  • Inappropriate verbal, physical or sexual conduct with others students or the class instructor.
  • Consumption of drugs, alcohol, or use of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) during class
  • Participating in class under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Destruction of the physical classroom space, including but not limited to: ceilings, walls, floors, chairs, lights, doors, and other Training Center property.
  • Bringing uninvited guests to class
  • Eating in class when not on a break
  • Talking while the instructor is talking or while your classmates are performing
  • Giving notes to other students on their performance during class.
  • Using electronics in class – including audio and/or video recording devices and cellular phones (this includes reading or writing text messages or emails, or using the internet in class).

Inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated and will result in removal from class. Any violation is typically addressed first by the instructor, then by the Education Director, and then by removal from the class – but depending on the severity of a conduct problem a student may be removed from a class at any time. Refunds will not be given to students who are removed from a class due to conduct.

Students who wish to appeal their removal from class should follow the appeals procedure detailed below.

SUSPENSION AND TERMINATION

Students who exhibit any type of inappropriate behavior as described in this catalogue, or behavior not described here, but that would be deemed inappropriate by a reasonable person, may be subject to suspension or termination.

The expectation to treat each other with mutual respect is not only limited to the classroom. Therefore, any incidents of inappropriate behavior that involve another student, instructor or company member that take place outside the classroom may also rise to the level of suspension or termination.

The Education Director, in conjunction with the Executive Director, will conduct a thorough investigation of all reported incidents to determine if the student’s behavior rises to the level of suspension and or termination. Depending on the circumstances a student may be removed from the classroom during the course of the investigation.

Suspensions will last for a period of one calendar year from the date of the suspension. Incidents related to violent, criminal or inappropriate, hostile or harassing behavior may result in immediate permanent termination. Terminations are final and the student will not be permitted on the PHIT premises for any reason.

Students may appeal Suspensions and Terminations in accordance with the Appeals process outlined in the Appeals section of this catalogue.

APPEALS

Students who have been terminated or placed on suspension are eligible to appeal those decisions. Listed below are the guidelines for filing an appeal:

  • All appeals must be emailed directly to the Education Director, within 7 days of the negative action taking place.
  • The written appeal should contain the student’s full name, phone number, and clearly state the reason for the appeal.
  • Appeals should include any supporting documentation or names of witnesses that may support the appeal.
  • Some examples of circumstances that may qualify for appeal:
    • The circumstances were temporary in nature.
    • The circumstances were beyond the student’s immediate control (health problems, death in the family, etc.)
    • The circumstances are to be appropriately resolved by the time the negative action is to be lifted. In the judgement of the Education Director and the Executive Director, the student has demonstrated an understanding of the inappropriate nature of the behavior that resulted in his or her suspension, and he or she has expressed a desire, willingness, and ability to change this behavior.

The Education Director and Executive Director will review the student’s appeal and respond via email, with a decision within four to six weeks after receiving the appeal. Decisions reached by the Education Director and Executive Director are final and not subject to further review.

If a student’s appeal is approved they will be reinstated and permitted to continue at the training center, but may be subject to contingencies related to his/her behavior in the future. If the appeal is denied, the student will be dropped from any courses he or she is enrolled in for current cycle. If the student has registered for courses in the upcoming cycle, they will be removed from those classes and will be issued a full refund.

CREDIT FOR PREVIOUS TRAINING

PHIT encourages students who have studied comedic acting and writing at other institutions, to apply for Advanced Standing at PHIT. The Education Director will review all requests for Advanced Training on a case by case basis. Students who are approved for Advanced Training will be eligible to skip PHIT’s level 101 class and start their training at level 201. No student will be given Advanced Standing beyond level 101.

The Philly Improv Theater Training Center considers offering Advanced Training to students who have studied at the following institutions who have similar training styles to PHIT: Annoyance Theater Chicago, Annoyance Theatre NY, DSI Comedy, ImprovBoston, IO Chicago, IO West, The Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT), Second City Chicago, Second City Hollywood, Second City Toronto, Upright Citizens Brigade LA, Upright Citizens Brigade NY, and Washington Improv Theater. Students who have studied at other training centers may apply for Advanced Standing and will be considered on a case by case basis.

Students who wish to apply for Advanced Training should send an email to the attention of the Class Registrar (classes@phillyimprovtheater.com) outlining your previous training from one of the above mentioned institutions. PHIT will contact institutions to confirm attendance and obtain character references. Decisions regarding Advanced Standing will be communicated within four (4) weeks of the request.

CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICIES

If a student wishes to withdraw from a course, they should inform the Class Registrar immediately. Refunds may be issued for courses upon student withdrawal under the following provisions:

8-WEEK COURSES

  • A full refund (minus a $25 processing fee) is available only when withdrawal notification is received by noon (12:00pm) one week prior to the start of the course. For example, refund requests for a Monday night class must be received by Monday at noon the week before.
  • For withdrawal after 12:00 p.m. one week prior to the start of a class and before the start of the first class, students will receive 75% of the tuition.
  • For withdrawal after the start of the first session of the class, students will receive 50% of the tuition.
  • After the start of the second class, there are NO Refunds or Partial Credits.

INTENSIVES AND ELECTIVES

  • A full refund (minus the $25 processing fee) is available only when withdrawal notification is received by noon (12pm) one week prior to the start of the course. For example, refund requests for a Monday night class must be received by Monday at noon the previous week.
  • For withdrawal after 12:00 p.m. one week prior to the start of a class and before the start of the first class, students will receive 50% of the tuition.
  • THERE IS NO REFUND AVAILABLE if you request a withdrawal from a course after the start of the first class.

1-2 DAY WORKSHOPS, PRACTICE GROUPS

Because of their lower price, most workshops are non-refundable.

COURSE TRANSFERS

If a course has not started and the student wants to transfer into a different course or an equivalent course which meets on a different day or at a different time that has also not started, the student may do so for a $25 administrative fee. The student will still be held to the provisions of the Refund Policy.

In most cases, once the course has started the student cannot switch into a different section.

For extenuating circumstances concerning cancellation and refund policies, the student should contact the Class Registrar (classes@phillyimprovtheater.com).

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

It is the primary goal of PHIT to offer training in a safe and supportive environment. We encourage all students and instructors to treat each other with mutual respect at all times.

Students who feel they have been wronged in any way by a fellow student, an instructor, or any employee of the training center have the right to file a written complaint with the Education Director. For the purposes of a thorough, effective, investigation timeliness of reporting complaints is critical. Ideally complaints will be received within seven days of the alleged violation.

All formal complaints must be submitted in writing, via email to the Education Director and should include specific facts and details outlining the nature of the complaint. The Education Director will respond acknowledging receipt of  the complaint and requesting further information if necessary.

The Education Director will conduct a thorough investigation,including interviewing all persons involved. If necessary, disciplinary action will be taken against any faculty, staff members, or students involved and found in violation of school policy.

Within four (4) weeks of the receipt of a written complaint, the Education Director will issue a written finding to the student who filed the complaint and any other individuals who may have a need to know. Once a resolution is reached all parties involved will be notified.

PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING A REFUND

All refund requests must be submitted  in writing via email to the Class Registrar (classes@phillyimprovtheater.com).

Students seeking a refund or a partial refund, assuming that their withdrawal from class follows all provisions outlined in our Cancellation and Refund Policies, should send an e-mail to the Class Registrar as soon as they have decided to withdrawal. The Class Registrar will act on each refund request within four (4) weeks of such request.

CALENDAR

The Philly Improv Theater Training Center is closed:

New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve.

TUITION AND FEES

Eight-week courses at the Philly Improv Theater Training Center are offered at $249 for eight-session courses which meet for 2 hours weekly, $299 for eight-session courses which meet for 2.5 hours weekly, and $349 for eight-week courses which meet for 3 hours weekly. Some courses that involve extra costs may charge a higher tuition.

Elective courses have varying tuition based on the number of weeks the class meets. Most four-session courses are offered at $175 for the four-week session, six-session courses are offered at $259 for the six-week session, and eight-week courses are offered at $349 for the eight-week session.

One-day optional practice sessions are periodically offered to level 101-401 improv students, and one-day optional writers room sessions are periodically offered to level 101-401 sketch writing students. Students enrolled in the current session pay $5 for each individual 2 hour practice session, or 2.5 hour writers room session. Students not enrolled in the current session pay $20.

Special workshops, seminars, master classes and other events are priced based on the nature of the individual event. These prices will be announced upon confirmation of the event and will be made public at our facility and on our website.

Failure to withdrawal from a course within one week of the start of the first class will incur a $25 administration fee.

ADMINISTRATION

Greg Maughan, Executive Director
Michael Marbach, Education Director
David Donnella, Class Registrar

Curriculum Committee: David Donnella, Steve Kleinedler, Mike Marbach, Greg Maughan, Kristen Schier, Jessica Snow

Curriculum Committee members attend curriculum development meetings, provide feedback and suggestions for changes and updates to the curricula, and work with the Education Director to create new curricula.

FACULTY

Click here for a complete list of the Philly Improv Theater Training Center’s Faculty and Guest Instructors on our website.