Tribute to Viola Spolin and Paul Sills at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum

Back Row Standing: Aretha Sills (Spolin/Sills Theater Works), Mike Brunlieb, Jennifer Green (Piven Theater Workshop, artistic director), Beth Kligerman (Second City, casting and alumni relations), Paul Sand (Broadway cast of Paul Sills Story Theatre), Gillian Hemme (Piven Theatre), Jeffrey Sweet (playwright and author of Something Wonderful Right Away), Rachel Sills, Make Keene, Rocklan Keene, Dan Castellaneta (writer, improviser and voice actor for The Simpsons),, Mark Larson (master of ceremonies and author of Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater). Seated on the bench, left to right: Lisa Laws (1st Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs), Warren Leming (original Paul Sills Story Theatre cast, 1968), Dennis Cunningham, Carol Sills (Viola Spolin's editor, Paul's co-creator, designer), Cordis Heard (Organic Theater and Story Theatre). Kneeling: Deb Lacusta (performer, improviser and writer, Immediate Theatre in LA). Front row: Neva Sills and the latest generation of the Sills family.

Back Row Standing: Aretha Sills (Spolin/Sills Theater Works), Mike Brunlieb, Jennifer Green (Piven Theater Workshop, artistic director), Beth Kligerman (Second City, casting and alumni relations), Paul Sand (Broadway cast of Paul Sills Story Theatre), Gillian Hemme (Piven Theatre), Jeffrey Sweet (playwright and author of Something Wonderful Right Away), Rachel Sills, Make Keene, Rocklan Keene, Dan Castellaneta (writer, improviser and voice actor for The Simpsons),, Mark Larson (master of ceremonies and author of Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater).
Seated on the bench, left to right: Lisa Laws (1st Deputy Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs), Warren Leming (original Paul Sills Story Theatre cast, 1968), Dennis Cunningham, Carol Sills (Viola Spolin's editor, Paul's co-creator, designer), Cordis Heard (Organic Theater and Story Theatre). Kneeling: Deb Lacusta (performer, improviser and writer, Immediate Theatre in LA). Front row: Neva Sills and the latest generation of the Sills family.

We are thrilled to share the news about the first-ever tribute to Viola Spolin and Paul Sills, presented by Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on June 20th, 2019. Participants celebrated the innovations and legacies of Chicago theater legends Spolin and Sills with reflections, tributes, and of course, theater games! Emceed by Mark Larson, author of the forthcoming "Ensemble: An Oral History of Chicago Theater," speakers included: Jennifer Scott (Director and Chief Curator of JAHHM), Lisa Laws (Deputy Commissioner of Chicago's Dept of Cultural Affairs), Christine Dunford (Director of the School of Theater and Music at UIC and founding member of Lookingglass Theater), Aretha Sills (Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and Spolin side coach), Jeffrey Sweet (Playwright/ theater historian/ author of "Something Wonderful Right Away"), Paul Sand (Tony-winning actor/ Viola Spolin's Young Actors Co/ The Second City/ Paul Sills' Story Theatre), Carol Bleackley Sills (Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works/ Spolin's editor/ Sills' artistic collaborator), Dan Castellaneta (Emmy-winning voice actor for The Simpsons/ playwright/ improviser), Deb Lacusta (writer for The Simpsons/ playwright/ improviser), Warren Leming (Story Theater actor/ filmmaker/ musician), Jennifer Green (Artistic Director of The Piven Theatre), with recorded reflections from Amy Pietz (SAG award-winning actress), Kevin Douglas (actor/ playwright/ director), Patrick Murphy (former head of Depaul's Theatre School), and John C. Reilly (Tony, Oscar and Golden Globe nominated actor), and theater games side-coached by Aretha Sills with players Rachel Sills, Make Keene, Cordis Heard, Solomon D. Mason, Michael Brunlieb, Gillian Hemme, Paul Sand, Dan Castellaneta, and Deb Lacusta.

It was a very special honor that the event took place in the historic Hull-House dining hall where Progressive-era reformers, including Spolin's revered teacher Neva Boyd, had gathered. The hall is too small to hold all who we wished could celebrate with us, but we hope you'll enjoy the broadcast at the link below!

Sills/Spolin Theater Works extends our sincere and deep gratitude to the tireless organizers Jennifer Scott, Ross Stanton Jordan, and all the dedicated staff at JAHHM, Mark Larson, Beth Kligerman, and the sponsors including The Second City, UIC Theatre and Music College of Architecture and Design, 2019 Year of Chicago Theatre, and Cornelia McNamara Flowers and Parties.

View the CAN-TV broadcast here and see more photos below!

Photos by Sarah Larson and courtesy of the Jane Addams Hull House Museum