The Improv Conservatory – Policies and FAQ

All About, Conservatory Tuesday May 19, 2015, 7:52pm - by Magnet Theater


The Improv Conservatory Program is Magnet's advanced improv training ground.

The program is focused on building a systematic transition from highly-proficient student to successful performer. It's also a training ground for veteran improvisers interested in fine-tuning their skills. To do this, the Conservatory Program offers students a variety of specific classes featuring a higher degree of individualized attention tailored to each students' strengths and weaknesses.

Conservatory classes fall under following categories:

Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory
Conservatory Skills
Conservatory Performance
Team Performance Workshop

Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory

Intro to the Conservatory is the first component of advanced training designed to make students confident, skilled and consistent performers. This class includes six weeks of classes that explore The Montage, The Mono Scene, The Expansion and Freeze Tag. These forms and games each offer unique challenges, the mastery of which builds a comprehensive set of necessary skills. The class culminates in a four week run of performances, presented in "revue"-style at The Magnet Studio Theater.

Prerequisite: Magnet Level 4 and instructor approval.  Approval based on improv core curriculum instructor recommendations. For more information of availability, see the Conservatory FAQ.

Conservatory Skills

Classes in the Conservatory Skills category focus even more on individual strengths and weakness, scene work and specialty skills.  From technical stagecraft, to straightforward explorations of two person scenes, these classes aim to challenge students with a clear, specific focus, giving them a better understanding and command of their body, their choices, and their improv instincts.

Prerequisite: Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory

Conservatory Performance

Classes in the Conservatory Performance category are primarily designed to provide stage time.  More experience in front of a live audience builds skills and activates previous training in powerful ways. Students ready for this invaluable opportunity will focus on a single form and conclude with a four week run of shows.  Forms offered in the past include The Blackout, Organic Improv and Multiverse. The course available will regularly change based on instructor availability.

Prerequisite: Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory

Team Performance Workshop

Team Performance Workshop is where our most advanced students continue training as a member of an improv ensemble. The first section includes six weeks of classes during which students are split into two eight-person ensembles. In the second section ensembles rehearse with a coach outside of class to produce a full eight week run of shows on the Magnet Mainstage. For the first half of run, one group performs The Montage and The Mono Scene while the other performs The Harold before switching for the second half of the run. This class is offered twice a year, from either November to February or May to August. February and August also bring opportunities to audition for placement on a Megawatt Team.

Note: Placement in Team Performance Workshop is extremely competitive and spots are limited.

Prerequisite: Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory and Instructor Approval.

Frequently asked Questions about the Conservatory
Q: How do I become a Conservatory Student?
A: Apply for acceptance into Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory -- Upcoming Level Five sessions and submission instructions can be found on the Classes page of this website. To be considered you must have completed Level Four in the Improv Core Curriculum.

Q: How does the selection process work?  
A: Each Level Five: Intro to the Conservatory class is filled with the 16 most highly recommended applicants. Acceptance decisions are made at the discretion of the Head of the Conservatory, Peter McNerney, in consultation with Improv Core Curriculum instructors.

Q: When will I find out if I've been accepted into Level Five?
A: Submission deadlines and notification dates will be indicated in the class description.  Everyone who submits by the deadline will be contacted with the results by the notification date.

Q: If there are two Level Five classes starting around the same time is it OK to apply to both? Will it help my chances of getting into one or the other?
A: You are welcome to apply to both. This doesn't provide any advantage in terms of acceptance, but if accepted, your schedule flexibility is helpful to our administrators.

Q: I was not accepted into Level 5: Intro to the Conservatory, may I reapply?
A: Yes, however, if you don't work with any Magnet Core Curriculum Instructors in the interim, prior teacher recommendations will continue to be used as the basis for consideration.  Sharpening your skills in the presence of Magnet instructors is the best way to demonstrate your proficiency and improve your chances.   Magnet Core Curriculum classes are offered at half price for students re-taking the class.  Another way for students to improve their skills, prepare for the Conservatory and work with Magnet instructors is to enroll in improv electives, and take different versions of Level Four.

Q: Is personal conduct taken into consideration when applying to the Conservatory?
A: Yes. Successful students are not only proficient improvisers, but also people who help create a safe and supportive environment.

Q: Do I have to take a certain number of electives in order to apply to the Conservatory?
A: No. You just have to have completed Level Four.  However, electives are a great way to continue to improve as well as work with a variety of Magnet Instructors.

Q: I've taken Level Five before, may I re-take the class?
A: You are welcome to apply but priority is given to new students. We encourage you to consider other Conservatory classes, especially if you've taken Level Five recently. If you are re-taking Level Five you must do so at full price.

Q: Can only Conservatory Students take Conservatory classes?
A: Yes.

Q: Can only students who have completed Team Performance Workshop audition for Megawatt house teams?
A: Yes. Auditions for Megawatt house teams are open only to students who have completed Team Performance Workshop.

Q: If I've been accepted into the Conservatory, does that mean that I can automatically take Team Performance Workshop?
A: No. While most all other Conservatory classes are open to all Conservatory students, Team Performance Workshop is by application only.

Q: Why is Team Performance Workshop so selective and why don't you offer more sessions?
A: The conclusion of each Team Performance Workshop session is scheduled to correspond with one of our bi-annual Megawatt house team auditions. Team Performance Workshop is meant for students that are the most prepared to audition for Megawatt house teams.

Q: Does Team Performance Workshop guarantee me a spot on a Megawatt team?
A: No. Taking Team Performance Workshop does make you eligible to audition, but does not guarantee placement on a Megawatt team.

Q: I have more questions. Whom should I ask?
A: Amy Morrison is the Magnet Theater School Director. She can be reached at or 212-244-2400. She's friendly. Give her a call.