Janna has been teaching acting, improv, and storytelling to adults and young people for over sixteen years. She has been directing plays and solo performance for nearly as long.

IN CHICAGO: Janna teaches at The Second City Training Center, iO ChicagoThe University of Chicago Lab School, Stage 773, and The Old Town School of Folk Music.  

IN SAN FRANCISCO: Janna founded the performing arts program and taught for 9 years at California's oldest progressive school, Presidio Hill School, and for 5 years at The Laurel School, a school for students with social and emotional challenges. She also taught at The Summer Institute for the Gifted at UC Berkeley, The San Francisco Art Institute, New Conservatory Theater Center and The California Shakespeare Festival.  She was a contracted Theater Director for San Francisco State University, The University of California at Santa Cruz, The Eureka Theater, New Conservatory Theater Center, and The San Francisco Fringe Festival.


"When I saw Janna teach for the first time, I immediately knew that she had to be part of the faculty in my program at the Second City Training Center.  Janna has the incredible ability to strip away any self judgement a student might have. She empowers her students. Janna walks in a room and transforms that environment into a safe and loving place. Janna has such clarity when instructing and a gift of creating a wonderful place to learn." 

~Brian Posen, Second City Training Center Program Head and Executive Producer of Chicago Sketch Fest   

"Janna Sobel is one of those rare teachers who can teach about the world, while learning a world from her students. She will listen to you as well as she listens to nature. Janna is able to challenge your mind after your mind runs out of ways to challenge itself. But what’s a challenge when you’re having so much fun?"    

~Vi Malave, Musician & student of 6 years    

"I have known Janna for over 10 years—as a student first, and later as a friend. Janna is exquisitely attuned to the needs of her students, giving us room to explore, support to experiment, and helping us strip away our limitations to discover joy in improvisation. Janna seems to see the world as a series of opportunities for learning, thrill, and growth—she will stretch your mind and delight you, turning the mundane into the magical with enviable deftness and grace."     

~Justine Palefsky, Brown University, Cognitive Neuroscience 

"Janna taught me probably the most important lesson I have learned from anybody about improvisation, and by proxy, real life. She taught me to listen, and listen closely, because in every conversation, there is a gift, and every gift is beautiful. She taught me that life is simply an alternating pattern of giving and taking these gems." 

~Sas Ponnapalli, Second City Student 

"Janna was my first level Second City instructor. Needless to say, I was so nervous to begin my first class... Janna was so awesome, though. She took all my nerves and insecurities and threw them right out the door. She made me realize that brave people take chances like the one I was taking." 

~Erin Zak, Second City Student   


"Janna did an outstanding job of directing two separate productions created by myself and Dr. Beth Stephens, which synthesized the work of internationally renowned performance artists including Linda Montano, Margo St. James, Veronica Hart, Danielle Abrams and Guilermo Gómez-Peña. She welcomed and united a tremendous cast of contributors from all over the world, staging events that were as much ritual and celebration as they were fine art and performance. Janna's practice of theater is courageous and beautiful."   

 ~Annie Sprinkle, Ph. D, Performance Artist, Activist   
"Janna helped me realize a long-held vision -- to see my play on the stage.  She is thoughtful and wise, and under her outstanding direction, the production was an unqualified success. What's more, she fostered and nurtured a sense of community among the performers that infused the work with freshness and true heart."   

~Jennifer Franklin, FUSE playwright and co-founder of The Alloy Project   

"Janna is a wonderful theater director and human being. I credit her with much of the success of NCTC’s flourishing Dramatic Arts program."

~Andrew Nance, Conservatory Director, New Conservatory Theatre Center

"Working with Janna has influenced me more than any other theater experience I have had. She has inspired me in so many ways, and has helped me grow immensely as an actor and as a person. Janna skillfully guides her actors to achieve their full potential while making them feel comfortable to discover and explore their own acting abilities.  I can honestly say I have never worked with a better director." 

~Reilly Johnson, Actress

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