YOUTH Theater Game Workshops in Los Angeles

It is the process of solving a problem that releases intelligence, talent and genius.
— Viola Spolin

Photos: Viola Spolin with players from her Young Actors Company in Hollywood (1948 - 1954).

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! 



July 9 - 13, at the Chromolume Theater, 5429 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016. For 2nd through 9th grade (Fall 2018).

Los Angeles Drama Club has always used Viola Spolin’s Theater Games as one of the foundations of the way we approach Shakespeare, and we are thrilled to have Aretha Sills with us this week. Ms. Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied Spolin’s improvisational theater games for many years with her father, legendary director Paul Sills, creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater. Our Players will be introduced to a series of games and exercises designed to unleash creativity through spontaneity, focus, and play. They will have a chance to develop the sensory awareness and communication skills needed on-stage and in daily life in an encouraging and joyful environment. 

Theater Games have benefits that reach far beyond acting class:

  • They help students develop communication and problem-solving skills organically--through group interaction and play. 
  • Students build social and emotional intelligence, confidence, and an awareness of self and others. 
  • Theater games inspire both physical and mental agility. 
  • The workshop process encourages focus and mindfulness, which helps lessen the isolation and anxiety caused by over-scheduling and screen time. 
  • Spontaneity is our goal, not comedy. Problem-solving games allow for true creativity, without placing limits on where it will lead.
  • Children learn through play, and group games teach them how to work with others. Viola Spolin's method was inspired by legendary Progressive-era social workers and philosophers Jane Addams and Neva Boyd, who believed that democracy requires what Addams termed social ethics, i.e., for people of different backgrounds to come together and learn from each other. Neva Boyd wrote, "Play involves social values, as does no other behavior. The spirit of play develops social adaptability, ethics, mental and emotional control, and imagination." Spolin's method fosters a sense of community, ensemble, and responsibility to the group, while honoring each player's unique role within it. 
  • Viola Spolin developed her revolutionary approach to actor training while working with children. It's since gone on to influence almost every major educational and therapeutic field. You can read more about the remarkable history of her work here



All classes will be led by Aretha Sills. Aretha has played Spolin theater games since she was a child. She is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin and she studied theater games for many years with her father, legendary director Paul Sills (creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater). She has worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and has conducted workshops for Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Art of Acting Studio, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College, and Northwestern University. Aretha was nominated for an INNY Award for Best Improvisation Instructor and was the keynote speaker at the California Educational Theatre Association conference. She is the mother of a four-year-old. You can read quotes about her workshops for adults here.

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Assisting her will be Ron Jarvis. On a whim Ron attended an open audition for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College. That impulsive move led to a lifetime working in the performing arts. After attending Clown College, Ron spent three years touring as a ‘knockabout’ clown with the Ringling Red Unit. That was followed by a stint in Chicago at The Second City where Ron performed for another three years. Ron returned to California where he worked in film and television as an actor and as a freelance television writer. Ron recently finished up a career at UCLA’s Royce Hall working as a stage technician and theater manager. He's studied and performed theater games for many years. 

New workshops will be announced soon. Please sign up below to be notified of upcoming workshops.

Feel free to email with questions.