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Fall Theater Game Workshop in Los Angeles!

"Through spontaneity we are re-formed into ourselves."
                        -Viola Spolin

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Explore the improvisational acting method of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, writer, director, or to experience more play in your daily life. 

10-Week Theater Game Workshop Open To All Levels This Fall

Viola Spolin’s Theater Games launched the American improvisational theater movement and changed the way acting is taught. Her work has influenced generations of actors and educators. In the 10-week workshop open to beginners and experienced players,
we'll explore the groundbreaking exercises and theatrical concepts found in Spolin's Improvisation for the Theater.

We'll meet Tuesday nights, Sept. 5 - Nov. 14, from 7:30 to 10pm. (We won't meet on Oct 31.)

Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd.
 
Tuition: $400. for new players or $350. for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Tuition can be paid in up to 4 installments. A deposit of $150. is required to hold your space, with the remainder due at the first class. Deposit is refundable minus $50. if you cancel by August 5. I accept checks, PayPal, or Venmo.

Registration: Email with questions or to register.

Workshop photos by Vega Ebbersten

Aretha Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied theater games for many years with her father, director Paul Sills (creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater), and has conducted workshops at Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works. Aretha was nominated for an INNY Award for Best Improvisation Instructor and was the keynote speaker at the California Educational Theatre Association conference. 

Quotes about the workshop:

"Aretha is dedicated to preserving the pureness of this technique, which from my point of view assists the actor to find the courage to find themself and then to fly. I believe she has, innately and amazingly, all the elements of the technique of both Viola Spolin and Viola's son, the extraordinary director, Paul Sills. I have studied with Aretha, and believe me, the thrill lives on."  -Paul Sand, Tony-award winner for Paul Sills' Story Theater; original Second City cast member

"Aretha Sills, carrying on the work of Spolin and Sills, is an amazing, insightful side-coach and teacher. We were fortunate enough to take a workshop in L.A. with her and it helped us reconnect with theater game work on a deeper level. She knows her stuff. Can't wait to work with her again!"  -Deb Lacusta & Dan Castellaneta, The Simpsons, writers/ actor

“As an educator and instructor of acting and directing, I was eager to learn about the American theater improvisation developed by Viola Spolin and expounded by Paul Sills. Aretha Sills provides an insight into the authentic roots of the system that has been utilized for years by theatre training programs. The workshop will provide you with an excellent opportunity to explore various games and exercises to enrich your view of performance and acting.”  -Norma Saldivar, Professor of Theatre Directing and Founding Executive Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison Arts Institute

"Aretha makes it safe to go where you need to go. Her ability to side coach you into your best work is truly one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had. Go. Learn. Be inspired. This is the real deal." -Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein, pres., Noble House Entertainment, and founder, The Open Space

"If you are an aspiring actor who is really really really funny and you like to stand in one place running your big mouth and interrupting your friend who is only really funny, then you should take this workshop to cure you of that." -Brian Hamill, Mob Rule Inc. Senior Improvisation Workshop

"Aretha is one of the century's best improvisation teachers. Like her grandmother before her, she understands people, theater, and improvisation in an intuitive and deep way. As someone who has studied with some of the top teachers in the country and has performed for over 15 years, I can honestly say Aretha's work opened my eyes. I understood improv on a deeper level. I was refreshed and returned to beginner’s mind." -David Alger, founder Pan Theater

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Playing "New York" in Stockholm!

This June, Sills/Spolin Theater Works was delighted to visit the Stockholm International School in Sweden, where Aretha Sills side-coached a two-day teacher-training workshop in Viola Spolin's Theater Games for educators from around the globe. Please see the wonderful photos below by Vega Ebbersten. 

In the first photo, we're playing the traditional children's game, "New York." Our Swedish host informed us they play a similar game called "Here We Come."

Sills/Spolin Theater Works educators are available to bring workshops in Theater Games and Story Theater to your school or organization. We also direct productions, offer teacher training, and speak to groups about Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, and the history of improvisational theater in America. Contact us with inquiries.

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Sills/Spolin Theater Works at the Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium

Aretha Sills speaking about Jane Addams, 2017 Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium.

Aretha Sills speaking about Jane Addams, 2017 Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium.

On May 12th, Aretha Sills of Sills/Spolin Theater Works gave a talk at the first annual Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium at University of California, Irvine. Titled "A Search for Community: Neva Boyd, Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, and the Origins of Improvisational Theater in the U.S.", the talk and Q&A traced the roots of their work to the radical Progressive-era philosophies cultivated at Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago using stories, personal history, photographs, and Spolin and Sills' own words and writing. 

In 1955, Paul Sills’ called the new improvisational theater, Compass, “a search for a community.” Viola Spolin (originator of Theater Games and author of Improvisation for the Theater) and Paul Sills (founding director of Compass, The Second City, and Story Theater) created a form of theater that celebrated American ideals of liberty, community, and democracy. 

Sills/Spolin Theater Works educators are available to bring workshops in Theater Games and Story Theater to your school or organization. We also direct productions, offer teacher training, and speak to groups about Viola Spolin, Paul Sills, and the history of improvisational theater in America.

Contact us with inquiries.

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Spring 2017: Weekend intensives in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago!

My vision is a world of accessible intuition.
— Viola Spolin

Explore the improvisational acting method of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, director, or to experience more play in your daily life.

Viola Spolin’s theater games launched the modern American improvisational theater movement and changed the way acting is taught. Her work has influenced generations of actors and educators.

In the weekend workshops we’ll explore the groundbreaking exercises and theatrical concepts found in Spolin’s groundbreaking book Improvisation for the Theater. Open to beginners and experienced players, the intensives are designed to help players be present onstage and off. 

Find full details here.

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Improvisation for Writers Starts January 11th in Los Angeles!

"My vision is a world of accessible intuition." -Viola Spolin

"If you haven't surprised yourself, you haven't written." -Eudora Welty


Theater games have many far-reaching creative benefits, but improvisation can be intimidating for non-actors. This workshop is designed to jumpstart new written work in a supportive and non-competitive environment. Writers will learn the fundamentals of scene improvisation and put them to work in their writing through in-class games and writing exercises. We'll clear creative blocks by igniting an intuitive response, and allow ourselves the chance
to see where it leads without judgment.
 
Based on the work of Viola Spolin, author of Improvisation for the Theater and mother of the modern American improvisational theater movement, the workshop will explore ways writers can access their intuition through play to bring a fresh spontaneity to all types of written work. 
 
This ten-week workshop is open to beginners and experienced writers and players. 
 

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Ten-Week Viola Spolin Theater Game Workshop iN LOS ANGELES Begins January 14, 2017!

Viola Spolin’s theater games launched the modern American improvisational theater movement and changed the way acting is taught. Her work has influenced generations of actors, directors, and educators. 

Explore the transformational theater games of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, director, or to experience more play in your daily life.

 

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Fall Theater Game Intensives in NYC, Oakland, and Denver

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Fall Theater Game Intensives in NYC, Oakland, and Denver

Explore the transformational theater games of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, director, or to experience more play in your daily life. We're taking the show on the road! Upcoming workshops include weekend intensives in New York City, Denver, and Oakland.  

To learn more, click on the post's title to your left.

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Ed Asner and Carol Sills Discuss Playwrights Theatre Club, Paul Sills, Viola Spolin and more

Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works, Carol Sills, recently met with the legendary Ed Asner to talk about his time at the University of Chicago and Playwrights Theatre Club, where he worked with Paul Sills, Viola Spolin, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, David Shepherd, and many other important figures in American theater. You can see a condensed version of their conversation in the video below. We'll be sharing more of Ed's great stories next week. Many thanks to Ed for his warmth and generosity in sharing his memories with us, and to Liza Asner for her help arranging the shoot. We're deeply grateful to Carol Gray, who shot and edited the video, and to Lucas Gray for consulting. We hope you enjoy the first in our Sills/Spolin Theater Works Interview series! 

Be sure to "like" the Facebook page for Sills/Spolin Theater Works to get news, and visit PaulSills.com for information about upcoming improvisational theater intensives at Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center. Learn more about the life and work of Viola Spolin here.

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2016 Summer Theater Game and Story Theater Intensives in Door County, WI

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2016 Summer Theater Game and Story Theater Intensives in Door County, WI

Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center

Every summer Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center offers intensives in the work of American theater legends Viola Spolin and Paul Sills. Actors, theater students, teachers, directors and other players are invited to attend one or both. Workshops are held in studios at the Sills family farm in Door County, Wisconsin, a famous vacation destination on the beautiful peninsula in Lake Michigan. Each intensive offers ten sessions in five days — 25 hours of play, with long lunch breaks in which to explore the area. Tuition is $500 or $900 for both. 


Workshop A: Theater Game Intensive with Aretha Sills
July 25 to 29

Explore the transformational theater games of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, director, or to experience more play in your daily life. Viola Spolin’s theater games launched the modern American improvisational theater movement and changed the way acting is taught. Her work has influenced generations of actors and educators. The Theater Game Intensive is a concentrated course based on her groundbreaking book Improvisation for the Theater. Coached by Aretha Sills, from a lesson plan created by Paul Sills, the intensive is open to beginners and experienced players. To read quotes about Aretha's workshops, please visit here. Learn more about the intensive here

Workshop B: Story Theater Intensive with Carol Bleackley Sills
August 1 to 5

In the late 60s Second City founding director Paul Sills surprised the Chicago theater scene with a new art form. Players in street garb staged tales from the oral tradition set to contemporary music in dramatically-lit space. By 1970 Paul Sills' Story Theatre had won critical acclaim on both coasts. "Unequivocably great,” wrote Clive Barnes in the New York Times. Sills imparted this method in an intensive he coached with Carol Sills in 2008. Since then, Carol has continued the practice. Players will adapt stories from literature in a process that leads to a workshop performance. Viola Spolin’s theater games spark fire in a curriculum that prepares participants to coach players in their own classrooms and theaters. Learn more here

For more information or to register for upcoming workshops, visit www.PaulSills.com. To learn more about travel to Door County, please visit www.DoorCounty.com. Players often share lodging or car rentals and we can help you find reasonably priced accommodations. Please feel free to contact Carol Sills with questions.

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Support Sills/Spolin Theater Works: Our First Year-End Fund Drive!

Paul Sills and Viola Spolin at work. Los Angeles, 1974.

Paul Sills and Viola Spolin at work. Los Angeles, 1974.

Dear Friends,

We’re happy to announce our new website, ViolaSpolin.org, the official online home of Viola Spolin! It features the most comprehensive biography of Viola anywhere, fantastic archival photographs, plus news about workshops, outreach, publications, and more. We hope you'll look around and sign up for the newsletter to receive periodic updates. 

When planning your year-end giving, please remember us. We're preparing Paul Sills' writings for editing and publication and need to transcribe a vast amount of material on improvisational theater, the correspondence of Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, as well as many unpublished shows. His thinking remains as important today as when he surprised us with artistic feats from 1952 to 2007. If you'd love to read this work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation via our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas here.

Thank you so much. Sharing this message is also a welcome form of support!

You can read more about our upcoming projects here.

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season! 

Sincerely,

Carol Sills
Director, Sills/Spolin Theater Works

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Coming January, 2016: Theater Game Workshop in Los Angeles

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Coming January, 2016: Theater Game Workshop in Los Angeles

THEATER GAME WORKSHOP ON SATURDAY AFTERNOONS

Sidecoach Aretha Sills invites players to a ten-week Spolin Theater Game workshop in Los Angeles. Based on Spolin’s seminal text Improvisation for the Theater, from a lesson plan created by director Paul Sills (creator of The Second City and Story Theater), the Theater Game Workshop is designed to bring a spirit of spontaneity and play to your work and life. Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

The 10-week workshop meets Saturday afternoons, January 9, 2016 – March 12, 2:30 to 5 pm.

To learn more, please visit here.

Location: 5828 Wilshire Blvd., at Stanley

Tuition: $365. for new players, $340. for returning players. Some sliding scale spots are available. A non-refundable deposit of $100. is requested to hold your place, with the balance due at the first class.

Registration: To register, please first call or email to discuss the workshop.
email:  aretha.sills@gmail.com
phone:  (323) 559-1355

To learn about the Improvisation for Writers workshop, also starting in January, please visit here.

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