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

The heart 


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.


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