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Improvisation for the Theater

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

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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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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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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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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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