Feature: Second City Training Centre Expansion


The Second City Training Centre in Toronto expands their facilities for more classes and students

Since its doors opened in 1973, The Second City has been a mainstay of the comedy and performance landscape of Toronto. It’s hard to take transit at all in the city without seeing at least one poster for the organization’s Mainstage shows and it seems at times that every other comedian or improviser in the city has taken at least one class from the organization. That’s not just a sweeping statement mind you, it’s also playing the odds.

The current Second City Training Centre has over 1100 people coming in at least once a week for classes, a number that has doubled over the past five years. It’s been an impressive growth for the company and now they’re looking to grow even more, with an expansion of not only their class options but also a physical expansion of their training facility.

“It was earlier this year that we realized that we’d reached capacity in our current space, we had 10 studio spaces running 7 days a week, but there were so many additional classes we wanted to do but didn’t have the room for.” Kevin Frank, artistic director of the Second City Training Centre, explained in a quick interview amid the hectic schedule of the expansion. “We found there was ample room on the third floor of our building which is attached to our actual theatre on 51 Mercer. We approached the owners of the building and they agreed to let us take over the entire third floor. There’s 8000 square feet up there and two skylights which gives tons of natural light.”

The new expansion will not only provide new studio space for classes and a green screen studio for on camera training but will also include a 65-seat theatre space to be dubbed the John Candy Box Theatre — a nice little memorial to one of Second City’s most memorable alumni. According to Frank, the added theatre won’t just be a place for student showcases, but it will also be a dedicated space for alumni troupes wanting a more intimate alternative to their Mainstage space.

The theatre will also be multimedia equipped for organizations to rent for presentations and meetings. The new theatre will be located in the northwest corner of the new space, just a flight of stairs away from the Mainstage.  Frank said it would welcome audience members who haven’t had enough improv after Mainstage performances to check out follow up pieces in the Box Theatre from some of the best troupes in Toronto.

As for classes, Second City is expanding their range of training with the aforementioned Green Screen studio helping to provide a more nuanced approach to their onscreen programs. It’ll also provide assets like storyboarding, editing and production to allow alumni to get out there and make their own projects with the same skill and professionalism that Second City instills in its stage performers. They’ll also be expanding on their burgeoning Voice Over classes. “So many of our alumni are talented voice over artists,” explained Frank, “so we thought it would be great to bring that Second City approach to the medium. We’re currently working with Wanted! Studios [for audio and visual] and we’re running our classes in the actual studios.”

No doubt, there’s a lot to be excited about Second City’s expansion, but for a company that likes to describe itself as the ‘Yes And Organization’, what do they see coming up next?

“We’re going to let our students tell us where the next steps are, with the new space we’re going to have so many talented graduates that are going to think of things for us to do that we haven’t even imagined yet, and I think there are going to be some very exciting things that come from that.”