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More about Viola Spolin ...

Theater educator, director, and actress recognized internationally for her "Theater Games" system of actor training, Viola Spolin trained initially to be a settlement worker.

It was during the time as drama supervisor for the Chicago branch of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Recreational Project that Spolin saw the need for an easily grasped system of theater training that could cross the cultural and ethnic barriers and so the 'games' began to emerge.

Viola Spolin Viola Spolin went on to teach and develop the Theater Games in depth. After creating the Young Actors Company in Los Angeles, working with the Second City in Chicago she published "Improvisation for the Theater", a work consisting of approximately two hundred and twenty games/exercises. This classic reference text has been used by teachers of acting as well as educators in other fields.

Spolin's Theater Games are simple, operational structures that are each built upon a specific focus or technical problem. The games have a liberating effect for the players. There are games to free the actor's tension, games to cleanse the actor of subjective preconceptions of the meaning of words, games of relationship and character, games of concentration - in short, games for each of the areas with which the growing actor is concerned. The games also heighten sensitivity, increase self-awareness, and effect group and interpersonal communication. As a result, Spolin's games have proved useful beyond theater training programs.

Spolin has introduced her work not only to students and professionals in theater, but to elementary and secondary education, schools for gifted and talented programs, curriculum studies in English, religion, mental health, psychology, and in centers for the rehabilitation of delinquent children.

From Chicago's settlement houses to the Young Actor's Company, the Compass Players, Second City as well as in thousands of institutions of education and healing throughout the world Viola Spolin taught us to play and to discover our creative potential.

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For more in depth information on the life and work of Viola Spolin, please read the article available here which was reprinted from Notable Women in the American Theater, Greenwood Press


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