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Neva Boyd


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
Viola Spolin Rehearsal Hull House copy.jpg

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. Learn more 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.




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.