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Announcing Our New Youth Theater Program in Los Angeles!

It is the process of solving a problem that releases intelligence, talent and genius.
— Viola Spolin

We are excited to announce our new youth theater program!

Generations of kids and adults have learned to act through playing Viola Spolin’s improvisational theater games, among them Oscar and Tony-Award winning actors and directors. Sidecoach Aretha Sills invites young players to explore the play-based method that allows each child’s unique gifts to flourish in a non-competitive, nurturing, and joyful environment. Students of all experience levels are welcome, including aspiring actors and those who just wish to play!

TWO UPCOMING WORKSHOPS IN STUDIO CITY

Six-Week Theater Game Workshop for Ages 7 – 11. Starts February 3, 2018.

Children aged 7- 11 will be introduced to acting fundamentals through a series of games and exercises designed to unleash creativity through spontaneity, focus, and play. Young actors will develop the sensory awareness and communication skills needed on-stage and in daily life in an encouraging and joyful environment. The workshop culminates in an improvised demonstration/performance for friends and family, allowing players to gain on-stage experience while having fun. Players of all skill levels are welcome in this workshop. See below for location, tuition, and registration info.
We’ll meet: Saturday mornings, February 3 through March 10, from 10:30am to 12pm.

Six-Week Theater Game Workshop for Ages 12 – 17. Starts February 3, 2018.

Teens aged 12- 17 will be introduced to acting fundamentals through a series of games and exercises designed to unleash creativity through spontaneity, focus, and play. Young actors will develop the sensory awareness and communication skills needed on-stage and in daily life in an encouraging and joyful environment. The workshop culminates in an improvised demonstration/performance for friends and family, allowing players to gain on-stage experience while having fun. Players of all skill levels are welcome in this workshop. See below for location, tuition, and registration info.
We’ll meet: Saturday afternoons, February 3 through March 10, from 1pm to 2:30pm.

FOR LOCATION, TUITION, AND REGISTRATION INFO, VISIT HERE

 

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Two Los Angeles Workshops Starting in January 2018!

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

Explore the improvisational acting method of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, writer, or director. Named "one of the most prominent acting techniques" by Backstage, Viola Spolin's Theater Games release the intuition through focus, spontaneity, and play, opening up new avenues of expression and communication in your work and in your daily life.  

COMING THIS JANUARY IN LOS ANGELES:

  • 10-Week Alumni Workshop Starts January 16th
  • Los Angeles Weekend Intensive January 20 & 21

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 workshops with sidecoach Aretha Sills, we'll explore the groundbreaking exercises and theatrical concepts found in her seminal book Improvisation for the Theaterwith an emphasis on the philosophies of legendary improvisation innovators
Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, and on applying Spolin's meditative methods to your work in any artistic discipline.

Alumni Workshop in Los Angeles Starts January 16th

In the ten-week alumni workshop, open to returning players only, we'll delve deeper into "Improvisation for the Theater," playing some of the many wonderful theater games we don't always get to in an introductory workshop. The workshop culminates with a performance/demonstration and reception for an invited audience, allowing players to develop performance skills in a welcoming environment.

We'll meet: Tuesday nights for nine weeks, January 16 - March 13, 2018, 7:30 to 10pm. Please note: the workshop demonstration and party will be on Wednesday, March 21st, from 7:30 to 10pm.

Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036
 
Tuition: $365. (Includes a small fee for rental of reception space.)
A deposit of $150 is required to hold your space with the remainder due at the first class. I accept checks, Venmo, or PayPal, and am open to payment plans.
Early-bird pricing:  $340 for payments made in full by Venmo or check only. Special pricing ends November 16.
Refund Policy: Tuition is refundable minus $50 if you cancel by December 16.
 
Registration: Email with questions or to register.


Los Angeles Weekend Intensive January 20 & 21

The weekend Spolin improvisation intensive is an accelerated version of a longer introductory workshop. Actors, educators, directors, and improvisers learn (through play) how to incorporate Viola Spolin's transformative techniques into their practice. Workshops are open to beginners and experienced players. The intensive will introduce players to the the key principles of Spolin's acting, directing, and teaching methods, and help you be more fully present onstage and off. 

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, January 20th and 21st, 2018, from 11am to 5pm, with an hour lunch break at 2pm.

Location: The fanaticSalon Studio Space, 11306 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066Tuition: $250.  
A deposit of $125 is required to hold your space, with the remainder due by the first class. I accept checks, Venmo, PayPal, and I am open to payment plans. A few sliding scale spaces are available.
Early-bird Pricing: $225 for payments in full made by Venmo or check only. Special pricing ends November 20th. 
Refund Policy: Tuition is refundable minus $50 if you cancel by December 20.

Registration: Email with questions or to register.


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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, Stockholm International School, Art of Acting Studio, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and directs The Predicament Players. 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 and chair, UNLV Department of Theatre, and executive director of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre

"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

To be notified of upcoming workshops, or to discuss workshops at your school or theater, please email: aretha@arethasills.com

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Petition: Add Viola Spolin to the American Writers Museum in Chicago!  

Please sign a petition to add Viola Spolin to the American Writers Museum in Chicago!  

Jeffrey Sweet, author of Something Wonderful Right Away: An Oral History of The Second City and The Compass Playershas created a petition to add Viola Spolin to the American Writers Museum in Chicago!

We hope you'll sign and share the petition, found here.

Writes Sweet: "The American Writers Museum, a new attraction on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, includes a section saluting Chicago writers, each honored Chicago writer being represented by a banner and a biography. Most of the worthy names are there. ... Viola Spolin is not. This is a dismaying omission. ... It is not an exaggeration to say that Improvisation for the Theater is one of the most important and influential books of the American theatre, laying out the theoretical foundation of the improvisation theatre movement. Second City -- which was founded by Spolin's son, Paul Sills -- is the most notable of the companies that exist because of Spolin and her work."

Thank you for taking the time to sign the petition honoring the mother of improvisational theater! 

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Fall 2017: Weekend Spolin Improvisation Intensives in the Bay Area and Seattle in November!

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BAY AREA WEEKEND SPOLIN IMPROVISATION INTENSIVE NOVEMBER 11 & 12!

Explore the improvisational acting method of Viola Spolin to enhance your training as an actor, improviser, educator, writer, or director. 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. Called "one of the most prominent acting techniques" by Backstage, Spolin's Theater Games release the intuition through spontaneity and play, opening new avenues of expression in your work and in your life. 

In the weekend intensive with sidecoach Aretha Sills, we will explore the groundbreaking exercises and theatrical concepts found in Spolin's Improvisation for the Theater. Workshops are open to beginners and experienced players.

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, November 11th & 12th, from 10am to 4pm, with an hour lunch break at 1pm.

Location: Shotgun Studios, 1201 University Avenue (at Curtis), Berkeley, CA, 94702
 
Tuition: $250. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Full tuition is required to hold your space, which is refundable (minus a $50 deposit) if you cancel by October 11. I accept checks or PayPal. Please ask if you need a payment plan.

Registration: Email with questions or to register.


SEATTLE WEEKEND SPOLIN IMPROVISATION INTENSIVE NOVEMBER 18 & 19!

The intensive, side-coached by Aretha Sills, is an accelerated version of an introductory theater games workshop. Actors, educators directors, and improvisers learn (through play) how to incorporate Spolin's transformative techniques into their practice. Workshops are open to beginners and experienced players and are designed to help players be present onstage and off. 

Location and Registration info: The intensive is being presented by Unexpected Productions and will take place at their theater in Pike's Place Market. Find details and registration info here

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, Stockholm International School, Art of Acting Studio, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and directs The Predicament Players. 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

To be notified of upcoming workshops, or to discuss workshops at your school or theater, please email: aretha@arethasills.com

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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 2016 Theater Game Intensives in NYC, Oakland, and Denver

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Fall 2016 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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