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Weekend Intensive and events at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago!

I am a son of Viola Spolin, so I was in some of her theater game workshops at Hull House, Chicago. It was her influence, which led me to read book after book of fairy tales from many cultures. Since she was the student of Neva Boyd, who taught traditional games and folk dances at her Recreational Training Center, I came in for a lot of playing. All this has stood me in good stead on my journey.
— Paul Sills
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Viola Spolin directing Paul Sills (center, holding script) and student actors on the Hull House Stage, 1930s.

Sills/Spolin Theater Works is honored to be returning to the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago in May and June for several exciting events, including free workshops, a tribute to Spolin and Sills, and a weekend intensive workshop. We are delighted to bring the work back to its birthplace.

  • We’ll be there on May 13th and 14th for a three events that are open the public and free with RSVP. Info will be available soon here

  • Hull House will also be hosting an event to honor Viola Spolin and Paul Sills' contributions to American theater on the evening of June 20th, 6-9pm. Save the date and stay tuned for details.

  • Sidecoach Aretha Sills is offering a weekend Spolin improvisation intensive in the historic dining hall at Hull House on June 22nd and 23rd. We will play Viola Spolin's theater games in the space where FDR, Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, and Neva Boyd broke bread. The intensive includes ten hours of play in two days. Beginners and experienced players welcome. Learn more and register here.

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Everyone Can Improvise: Theater Games with The Predicament Players in LAUSD!

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We're overjoyed to announce we've launched a show of Viola Spolin's theater games in Los Angeles Unified School District elementary schools and after-school programs! The show was created and directed by Sills/Spolin Theater Works Assoc. Director Aretha Sills, is performed by Emily Button, Nancy Barragan, Ron Jarvis, Aretha Sills, and volunteers from the audience, and produced by Enrichment Works, a wonderful non-profit that creates and presents theater that inspires learning in Los Angeles schools. It's been exhilarating to play for such engaged and playful audiences, and we can't wait to bring the show to more kids next fall. 
Photos by Melanie Chapman, @TipheadPictures.

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New NYC Master Class Announced!

The New York Theater Game Intensive is full, but we’ve just announced a new 3-hour workshop for IRTE in NYC!

GIVE & TAKE: BUILDING ENSEMBLE AND AWARENESS WITH SPOLIN THEATER GAMES

"Individual freedom (expressing self) while respecting community responsibility is our goal." - Viola Spolin

Viola Spolin’s theater games have helped countless theater companies to build ensemble and develop awareness between players, tools essential to performing or devising material with a group. In this three-hour master class with sidecoach Aretha Sills, we’ll focus on games and exercises that help players learn the art of give and take. Through a series of warm-ups and scene games, we’ll explore ways to bring players of different energy and experience levels into harmony, heighten full-body awareness of self and others, and develop sensory tools to seamlessly improvise with a group, respecting both the needs of the ensemble and the individual. 

No experience necessary to play. We'll do some exercises that require physical activity and we will be up on our feet quite a bit. Players are always welcome to participate in a way that works for their physical ability, however. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Monday, May 20, 2019, 7:00pm - 10:00pm, Studios 353, 353 W 48th street, Studio B, New York, NY 10036

This workshop is being presented by IRTE (Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble). Complete details and registration can be found here.

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SAG Life Achievement Award Winner Alan Alda on Training with Sills & Spolin

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I think it’s the best foundation

2019 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement award winner Alan Alda when asked about his training as an actor:

I was crazy. It’s not something I recommend to sensible people, but what I thought was my natural genius was a collection of mannerisms that took me 15 years to get rid of. The one bit of training I had was learning improvisation with Paul Sills and Viola Spolin, who really revolutionized theater in the country through Viola’s work on improvisation. I recommend that to young people who want to become actors because I think it’s the best foundation.”

Read the whole interview here.

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Spring 2019 Workshops in LA & NYC

UPCOMING SPOLIN THEATER GAME WORKSHOPS IN LOS ANGELES & NEW YORK

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 SOON:

  • Alumni Theater Game Workshop Starts March 12 in Los Angeles

  • Developing a Solo or Ensemble Show with Improvisation Starts March 14th in North Hollywood

  • Weekend Intensive in North Hollywood March 16 & 17th, 2019

  • Weekend Intensive in New York City May 18 & 19th, 2018

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 Theater, with 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.

Learn more below…

Alumni Theater Game Workshop Starts March 12 in Los Angeles

This 9-week workshop is for returning players who would like to delve deeper into exploring the exciting theatrical possibilities in Viola Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater. Our last session will be a workshop performance/demonstration and a potluck reception for an invited audience of friends and family on Saturday, May 4th.

We'll meet: We’ll meet for 8 Tuesday nights, March 12 - April 30 plus a workshop demonstration/performance for an invited audience on Saturday, May 4th. All sessions meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036. 
Tuition: $380. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 12.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.

REGISTER

Developing a Solo or Ensemble Show through Improvisation Starts March 14th in North Hollywood

Players will create and develop a monologue or personal story with the goal of beginning a longer piece. Teams of players who would like to develop an ensemble show are also encouraged to participate. We’ll use theater games and improvisational methods to help us round out the characters, fill in detail, and deepen the connections in our scenes and stories. At our last workshop we will present our works-in-progress to an invited audience of friends and family. All experience levels welcome.

We'll meet: Seven Thursday nights, March 14 to April 25th, plus a final meeting on Saturday, April 27th, which will be a performance of our works-in-progress for an invited audience. All classes meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: 5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: Tuition is $375 for new players and $340 for returning players. sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 14.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.

REGISTER

Weekend Spolin Intensive in North Hollywood March 16 & 17th, 2019

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We’ll meet: Saturday and Sunday, March 16 & 17, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: $265. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 16.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.

REGISTER

Weekend Intensive in New York City May 18 & 19th, 2018

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We’ll meet: We’ll meet: Saturday and Sunday, May 18 & 19th, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  Simple Studios, 134 W 29th Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10001
Tuition: $275. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Please ask if you’d like a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by April 18.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.

REGISTER

Sidecoach 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 for Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She has worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and has trained faculty from Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College, The Second City, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, LAUSD, CETA, and many other institutions and schools. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and she directs The Predicament Players. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from UC Riverside where she also taught as a lecturer in creative writing.

To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about private coaching or workshops for your school or group, please email. 

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, 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, actor & writers

“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

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New Workshops Winter and Spring 2019

Focus is mediation in action -Viola Spolin!.png

UPCOMING SPOLIN THEATER GAME WORKSHOPS IN LOS ANGELES & THE BAY AREA

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 SOON:

  • No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games for Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday, Dec 1 (Wait List Only)

  • Bay Area Weekend Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

  • 8-Week Theater Game Workshop Starts Jan 15, 2019 in Los Angeles

  • Improvisation for Writers Starts January 10, 2019 in North Hollywood

  • 9-Week Alumni Theater Game Workshop Starts March 12 in Los Angeles

  • Improvisation to Develop a Solo or Ensemble Show Starts March 14th in North Hollywood

  • Weekend Spolin Intensive in North Hollywood March 16 & 17th, 2019

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 Theater, with 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.

Learn more below…


No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games to Inspire Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday Dec 1 in LA - WAIT LIST ONLY

Enter the holiday season refreshed and inspired! In this three-hour workshop, we’ll explore the theater games and exercises that inspire theatrical improvisers to get out of the head and into the present time, but without any expectation of performing or being “on.” Our goal is to experience the many benefits of spontaneity and group play, with no pressure to create scenes or act. We’ll play a combination of meditative warm ups, sensory-awareness exercises, and traditional children’s games to release the intuition and open up new avenues of personal expression and communication. No experience needed, just a willingness to play!

We’ll meet: Saturday, Dec 1st, from 2 to 5pm
Location:  Subud L.A., 5828 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tuition: $60. for new players, $50 for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are still available. Tuition is refundable minus a $10 registration fee if you cancel by Nov 1.
Registration:  Wait list only. Email with questions or for a spot on the wait list.


Bay Area Spolin Improvisation Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We’ll meet: Saturday and Sunday, Jan 12 & 13, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  Shotgun Studios, 1201 University Ave, Studio B, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tuition: $250. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 12.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


8-Week Theater Game Workshop in Los Angeles Starts January 15, 2019

This workshop is open to beginners and experienced players. Actors, educators, directors, and improvisers learn through play how to incorporate Viola Spolin's transformative techniques into their practice. The workshop will introduce players to the the key principles of Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods, and help them be more fully present onstage and off. 

We'll meet: Tuesday Nights, Jan 15 - March 5, 2019, 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036. 
Tuition: $365.; Returning players rate is $330. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 15.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


Improvisation for Writers Starts January 10, 2019 in North Hollywood — Save $50 if you register by Nov 30!

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

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

This 8-week workshop is designed to jump start new written work in a playful 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. The workshop will explore ways writers can access their intuition through play to bring a fresh spontaneity to all types of written work. Open to beginners and experienced writers and players. 

"Improvisation for Writers was the first workshop I took with Aretha Sills. Combining traditional and theatrical games, it was clear how this approach fits well with writers. The side-coached free writes, based on the focus of the theater games, gave my writing three dimensionality and a rich environment to find new characters, plot points, conflicts and complex story arcs. Getting out of the head and into the physical is life-changing for a writer. I have gone on to take many more improvisational theater workshops with Aretha, because it benefits my writing (especially with well developed, living-breathing characters), my overall creativity, and my personal well-being."  --Valerie Brockbank, screenwriter/ fiction writer

We'll meet: Thursday Nights, Jan 10 - Feb 28, 2019. Please note: we will not meet on Valentine's Day and the last class will be held on Wednesday, March 6. All classes meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: 5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: Before Nov 30, tuition is $315 for new players and $280 for returning players. After Nov 30 tuition is $365. or $330 for returning players. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 10.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


9-Week Alumni Theater Game Workshop Starts March 12 in Los Angeles

This workshop is for returning players who would like to delve deeper into exploring the exciting theatrical possibilities in Viola Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater. Our last session will be a workshop performance/demonstration and a potluck reception for an invited audience of friends and family on Saturday, May 4th.

We'll meet: We’ll meet for 8 Tuesday nights, March 12 - April 30 plus a workshop demonstration/performance for an invited audience on Saturday, May 4th. All sessions meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036. 
Tuition: $380. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 12.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


Improvisation to Develop a Solo or Ensemble Show Starts March 14th in North Hollywood

Players will create and develop a monologue or personal story with the goal of beginning a longer piece. Teams of players who would like to develop an ensemble show are also encouraged to participate. We’ll use theater games and improvisational methods to help us round out the characters, fill in detail, and deepen the connections in our scenes and stories. At our last workshop we will present our works-in-progress to an invited audience of friends and family. All experience levels welcome.

We'll meet: Seven Thursday nights, March 14 to April 25th, plus a final meeting on Saturday, April 27th, which will be a performance of our works-in-progress for an invited audience. All classes meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: 5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: Tuition is $375 for new players and $340 for returning players. sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 14.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


Weekend Spolin Intensive in North Hollywood March 16 & 17th, 2019

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We’ll meet: Saturday and Sunday, March 16 & 17, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: $250. before Dec 15, $265 after. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by February 16.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.

Learn more at www.violaspolin.org/workshops








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SPOLIN THEATER GAME WORKSHOPS IN LOS ANGELES & THE BAY AREA

%22Play is democratic!%22 -Viola Spolin.png

UPCOMING SPOLIN THEATER GAME WORKSHOPS IN LOS ANGELES & THE BAY AREA

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 SOON:

  • No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games to Inspire Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday, Dec 1 in Los Angeles

  • Bay Area Weekend Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

  • 8-Week Theater Game Workshop Starts Jan 15, 2019 in Los Angeles

  • Improvisation for Writers Starts January 10, 2019 in North Hollywood

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 Theater, with 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.

Learn more below…


No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games to Inspire Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday Dec 1 in LA

Enter the holiday season refreshed and inspired!

In this three-hour workshop, we’ll explore the theater games and exercises that inspire theatrical improvisers to get out of the head and into the present time, but without any expectation of performing or being “on.” Our goal is to experience the many benefits of spontaneity and group play, with no pressure to create scenes or act. We’ll play a combination of meditative warm ups, sensory-awareness exercises, and traditional children’s games to release the intuition and open up new avenues of personal expression and communication.

No experience needed, just a willingness to play!

We’ll meet: Saturday, Dec 1st, from 2 to 5pm
Location:  Subud L.A., 5828 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tuition: $60. for new players, $50 for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are still available. Tuition is refundable minus a $10 registration fee if you cancel by Nov 1.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here


Bay Area Spolin Improvisation Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We’ll meet: Saturday and Sunday, Jan 12 & 13, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  Shotgun Studios, 1201 University Ave, Studio B, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tuition: $250. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 12.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


8-Week Theater Game Workshop in Los Angeles Starts January 15, 2019

This workshop is open to beginners and experienced players. Actors, educators, directors, and improvisers learn through play how to incorporate Viola Spolin's transformative techniques into their practice. The workshop will introduce players to the the key principles of Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods, and help them be more fully present onstage and off. 

We'll meet: Tuesday Nights, Jan 15 - March 5, 2019, 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036. 
Tuition: $365.; Returning players rate is $330. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 15.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


Improvisation for Writers Starts January 10, 2019 in North Hollywood

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

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

This 8-week workshop is designed to jump start new written work in a playful 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. The workshop will explore ways writers can access their intuition through play to bring a fresh spontaneity to all types of written work. Open to beginners and experienced writers and players. 

We'll meet: Thursday Nights, Jan 10 - Feb 28, 2019. Please note: we will not meet on Valentine's Day and the last class will be held on Wednesday, March 6. All classes meet from 7:30 - 10pm.
Location: 5628 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Tuition: $365.; Returning players rate is $330. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 10.
Registration: Email me with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


Coming spring of 2019. Stay tuned for registration details:

  • Alumni Theater Game Workshop. We’ll meet for 8 Tuesday nights, March 12 - April 30, plus a workshop demonstration/performance for an invited audience on Saturday, May 4th. Mid-Wilshire location. Open to returning players only. Tuition is $380.

  • Improvisation to Develop a Solo or Ensemble Show. We’ll meet for seven Thursday nights, March 14 to April 25th, plus a final meeting on Saturday, April 27th, which will be a performance of our works-in-progress for an invited audience. NoHo location. Players will create and develop a monologue or personal story with the goal of beginning a longer piece. Teams of players who would like to develop an ensemble show are also encouraged to participate. All experience levels welcome. Tuition is $375 for new players and $340 for returning players.

  • Weekend Spolin Intensive in North Hollywood March 16 & 17th, 2019. Tuition is $265.



Sidecoach 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 for Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She has worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and has trained faculty from Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College, The Second City, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, LAUSD, CETA, and many other institutions and schools. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and she directs The Predicament Players. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from UC Riverside where she also taught as a lecturer in creative writing. Her non-fiction, fiction, and poetry has been published in Los Angeles Review of Books, Qua, Calyx Journal, and South Bank Poetry Review.

To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about private coaching or workshops for your school or group, please email. 

Quotes about the workshops:

“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, 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, actor & writers

“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








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SPOLIN improvisation WORKSHOPS IN LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO & The Bay Area

focus is meditation in action.png

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.

FALL 2018 WORKSHOPS:

  • Chicago Weekend Intensive Oct 27 & 28 (wait list only)

  • Los Angeles Weekend Intensive Nov 10 & 11

  • No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games to Inspire Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday Dec 1 in LA

  • Bay Area Weekend Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

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 Theater, with 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.

Learn more below...


Weekend Intensive in Chicago October 27 & 28 — Wait List Only

Designed to introduce the key principles of Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome. 

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, Oct 27 & 28, 2018, from 10am to 4pm, with an hour lunch break at 1pm.
Location:  Foxhole Creative, 2444 W Montrose Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60618
Tuition: $265. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus $50 deposit if you cancel by Sept 27.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed. To be added to the waiting list, please fill out the form found here. I will reply to confirm your spot on the list.


Los Angeles Weekend Intensive November 10  & 11 (North Hollywood Location)  

Designed to introduce the key principles of Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome. 

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, November 10 & 11, 2018, from 11am to 5pm, with an hour lunch break at 2pm.
Location: New Musicals Inc., 5628 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, CA  91601
Tuition: $265. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus $50 deposit if you cancel by Oct 10.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here. I will reply with payment instructions. 


No Expectations Improvisation: Theater Games to Inspire Mindfulness and Communication, Saturday Dec 1 in LA

Enter the holiday season refreshed and inspired!

In this three-hour workshop, we’ll explore the theater games and exercises that inspire theatrical improvisers to get out of the head and into the present time, but without any expectation of performing or being “on.” Our goal is to experience the many benefits of spontaneity and group play, with no pressure to create scenes or act. We’ll play a combination of meditative warm ups, sensory-awareness exercises, and traditional children’s games to release the intuition and open up new avenues of personal expression and communication.

No experience needed, just a willingness to play!

We'll meet: Saturday, Dec 1st, from 2 to 5pm
Location:  Subud L.A., 5828 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tuition: $60. for new players, $50 for returning players. A few sliding-scale spots are still available. Tuition is refundable minus a $10 registration fee if you cancel by Nov 1.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here. I will reply with payment info.


Bay Area Spolin Improvisation Intensive Jan 12 & 13, 2019

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin's revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days, the weekend intensive will help players be more fully present onstage and off.  Beginners and experienced players are welcome.

We'll meet: Saturday and Sunday, Jan 12 & 13, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location:  Shotgun Studios, 1201 University Ave, Studio B, Berkeley, CA 94702
Tuition: $250. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by Dec 12.
Registration:  Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here. I will reply with payment info.


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 for Paul Sills' Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. She has worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and has trained faculty from Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College, The Second City, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, LAUSD, CETA, and many other institutions and schools. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and she directs The Predicament Players. 

 To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about private coaching or workshops for your school or group, please email. 

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, 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, actor & writers

“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

“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 about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about workshops for your school or group, please email.

Learn about our new youth theater workshops in Los Angeles here

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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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