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Theatre History


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.




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!