Our theater strives to be accessible and welcoming to all people who want to learn, perform, and watch great comedy. We hold ourselves accountable to our students, actors, and audiences, and we pledge to continuously evolve to meet the changing needs of those communities.
Transparency & Accountability
We are a collective that sees room for growth, empathy, and trust in the comedy community. In order to achieve these we seek to provide radical transparency and accountability. We will be clear about the goals of our classes, the nature of our shows, and what constitute reasonable expectations for our students. We commit to making promises we know we can keep and working toward realistic goals, and we will be honest with our students, audiences and community about our failures and successes.
Diversity & Inclusion
Our theater strives to feature voices from all over Chicago and the world. We will lift up those whose voices have gone unheard for too long, and be all the better for it. We welcome students of all identities, and we will not tolerate any racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ableist, ageist, sizeist, or otherwise oppressive language, behavior, or discrimination. Unless you're looking to punch down at other people or groups, we're here to be your comedy home.
Accessibility & Meritocracy
Many of us are friends and we are friendly to each other. However, when deciding placement on stages and in classrooms, skill and point of view will be paramount. We will guard against cronyism and seek to provide students and performers with challenges that suit their skill level, not their social set. As a collective, we are designed and dedicated to represent a variety of points of view onstage and off. A single gatekeeper won't decide the futures of students and performers, and we will work to ensure that opportunities are not limited based on who you know. We plan to keep communication lines between the collective and our community open, and to be receptive to new ideas and chances for growth.
Great Comedy, Great Curriculum
Our comedy shows feature performers and students having fun and being funny. Improvisers on our stages and in our classrooms will play to the top of their intelligence, listen closely to each other, and take risks together to drive shows to novel and hilarious places. We will be honest with our audiences - If a show is designed to be more experimental or dramatic, it will be labeled as such. We will only stage shows we ourselves would want to watch, and only offer classes we ourselves would want to take.
Confidence in the quality of art/education we provide
Creating work/curriculum that we ourselves are enamored by
Trust-driven and listening-based
The type of school/theater we wanted when we were starting out
Provides a proper education
Safe place to take risks
Support and empower students
Challenges students and artists
Provides students with tools they need to succeed
Requires a commitment to being an artist
Playing to top of intelligence
Student Code of Conduct
We want you to feel safe and valued in class. We reserve the right to remove any student at any time. But, we’d rather grow and learn together. With that in mind, please adhere to the following code of conduct.
Improv and comedy can be unpredictable. As you’re making choices in the moment, we ask that you do your best to play respectfully and to the top of your intelligence.
Do not use racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, ageist, sizeist, or otherwise oppressive language. Please note that sexual harassment, hate speech, and personal attacks (in scenework or outside of it) will not be tolerated. If something feels like it might be wrong to say, it probably is the wrong thing to say.
If something inappropriate comes up let’s try to address it in the moment, assume the best in people, and move on. Don’t think you have to ‘yes and’ something that doesn’t feel comfortable to you.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable addressing it in the moment please reach out to your teacher, someone else from the collective, or our HR representative.
Be punctual, and respect the time that your classmates and teacher are giving you.
We will make mistakes, but we are committed to learning from them and doing better. We expect this same mindset from our students.
Repercussions: we want you to feel comfortable in taking risks and exploring this craft and we all make mistakes. With these two ideas in mind, we will generally be following a three strikes policy for infractions. Three strikes over the course of your time in classes will be considered a pattern of behavior and indicative of an intractable issue.
Teacher Code of Conduct
As a teacher you represent The Collective. Teachers are expected to be actively welcoming to the community, transparent about all inner workings of the Collective, and to create a learning space that is both accessible and safe for students. Please keep the following in mind:
Present all feedback as subjective and make it your personal goal to provide a positive experience for each student. However, it’s also your responsibility to be honest and help them grow.
Be a gracious and supportive member of the community and refrain from disparaging other theaters, teachers, or students.
Relationships with students should remain professional. Romantic relationships with students are strictly prohibited; there is a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual harassment.
Do not use racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, ageist, sizeist, or otherwise oppressive language. Please note that sexual harassment, hate speech, and personal attacks (in scenework or outside of it) will not be tolerated.
Use your best judgement when dealing with anything of a problematic nature in class. If an incident arises, it should be rigorously documented. We encourage you to involve the rest of the collective if you’re unsure about a student or situation.
Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them.
Remember that you will ideally be helping to mold your students into confident, professional, skilled performers. Give them the tools they’ll need for success.
Be an active member of the teacher community. Get advice and help from other teachers. Attend regular teacher meetings.
Be punctual and respect your students’ time.
Communicate anything that you think may be an issue to the collective so that we can uphold and maintain our mission statement.
Set your students up for success by clearly stating ground rules and giving them a chance to ask questions or voice concerns. Table setting might look a little different for each teacher, and you can put your own spin on it rather than reading something verbatim. However, it should hit the salient points in this statement provided by Damon (and also touch on other harmful language as well): [We can also create a standard script for them to reference.]
Repercussions: feedback from students will be the basis for decisions made. Decisions about continued association with the group will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the teaching committee, but will generally follow the rule of one warning and then dismissal.