Everyone can act. Everyone can improvise. Anyone who wishes to can play in the theater and learn to become stageworthy.
— 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.  


  • 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 Los Angeles

  • 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:  Email with questions if needed, or sign up for a spot on the waitlist here.

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

“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


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.

Summer Intensives at Paul Sills’ Theater Game Center, Door County, Wisconsin

Paul Sills Wisconsin Theater Game Center

Offering weeklong summer intensives in the work of American theater legends Viola Spolin and Paul Sills. Workshops meet in studios at the Sills family farm in Door County, Wisconsin, a world-famous vacation destination located on the beautiful peninsula in Lake Michigan. 

Sign up to be notified about upcoming workshops here. More Information about the workshop and travel to Door County can be found at PaulSills.com


Generations of kids and adults have learned to act through playing Viola Spolin's improvisational theater games, among them Oscar and Tony-Award winning actors and directors. Sidecoach Aretha Sills invites young players to explore the play-based method that allows each child's unique gifts to flourish in a non-competitive, nurturing, and joyful environment. Students of all experience levels are welcome, including aspiring actors and those who just wish to play!

Sign up to be notified about upcoming workshops here

Viola Spolin Improvisation Class