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Theater in Chicago is expanding—literally

New plans for The Second City Training Center
New plans for The Second City Training Center
New plans for The Second City Training Center

Chicago’s Second City Training Center is doubling its current 20,300 square feet of space at Pipers Alley. The venue on 230 W. N. Avenue which used to house a four-screen movie theater will now apply that 25,000 square for classrooms, student theaters, a screening room, a student resource center, a student lounge and bar, with room left over for special events. This multi-million-dollar transformation should be completed by spring of 2015.

“For years we've been listening to student feedback and building this plan to fulfill their requests,” says Kerry Sheehan, President of the Second City Training Centers & Education Programs. “Not only will we be able to better accommodate our wait lists in core programs – such as improvisation and writing – but our newer initiatives into digital media and advanced classes for the professionally tracked student will have room to grow and thrive.”

“We are very excited to enhance our students' experience with the development of this new space,” adds Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City, Inc. “This will give the opportunity for more student performances in front of audiences, resources to enhance their education, places to work and collaborate, and program-specific materials and technology in classrooms. For our team, it's taking what's already a fantastic training institution and heightening it to the best experience possible for our students.”

Across town, Stage 773 has already transformed its performance space into a place for actors’ training with summer classes, workshops and programming opportunities. “Every staff member of Stage 773 is also an artist,” notes Amanda Jane Long,. “We know first-hand how working together makes us better people, stronger artists, and more engaged citizens.”

“We’ve always put our tenants first and serve their interests fully,” adds Creative Director Brian Posen. “Since 2010, Stage 773 has doubled in size, and we are now at a place where we can continue to serve our tenants while helping artists grow and collaborate through our own education and programming.’’ For more information, visit

Working under an Equity contract with nonprofit status, Chicago actors Boyd Harris and Layne Manzer have founded the Cole Theatre in hopes for underused artists may gain notoriety via opportunities on stage or behind the curtain.

“This is not a group of 20-somethings out of college. Cole Theatre is made of artists who’ve been active in the Chicago theater community for many years,” explains Harris, who will serves as artistic director. For more information about Cole Theatre’s productions and programs, visit