Summer 2019 Workshops in L.A. & Chicago!

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 at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum June 22 & 23, 2019

+ Free workshop at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on June 21st.

+ 5-Day Intensive in Los Angeles July 8-12, 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…

“The one bit of training I had was learning improvisation with Paul Sills and Viola Spolin, who really revolutionized theater in the country. I recommend that to young people who want to become actors because I think it’s the best foundation.”
— Alan Alda


We are honored for the opportunity to play Viola Spolin’s theater games in the space where FDR, Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, and Neva Boyd broke bread.

Designed to introduce the key principles of Viola Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods in two days (ten hours of play), 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, June 22 & 23, from 11am to 5pm each day, with an hour break for lunch at 2pm.
Location: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum Dining Hall, The University of Illinois at Chicago,
800 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7017
Tuition: $265. A few sliding-scale spots are available. Payment plans ok. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by May 22.
Registration: Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here. I will reply with payment info.

Please note: Aretha Sills will also be offering a free workshop open to the public at the Hull-House Museum on June 21st. Please visit here to learn more and RSVP.


A complete ten-week introductory class in five days! Actors, educators, directors, and improvisers learn through play how to incorporate Viola Spolin’s transformative techniques into their practice. Workshops are open to beginners and experienced players. The 5-day intensive will introduce players to the the key principles of Spolin’s revolutionary acting, directing, and teaching methods, and help them be more fully present onstage and off.

Workshop meets in the heart of the Miracle Mile/Mid Wilshire district of Los Angeles, on Museum Row. Our location is steps away from LACMA, the Peterson Automotive Museum, and the La Brea Tar Pits Museum, and within short walking distance of many restaurants and other local attractions.

We’ll meet: Monday July 8th through Friday July 12th, from 11am to 5pm. We’ll take an hour meal break at 2pm each day.
Location: Subud Los Angeles, 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036.
Tuition: $475. Returning players rate is $425. A few sliding scale spaces available. Please ask if you need a payment plan. Tuition is refundable minus a $50 registration fee if you cancel by June 8.
Registration: Email with questions if needed, then please fill out the registration form found here.


All workshops will be sidecoached by Aretha Sills. The granddaughter of Viola Spolin, Aretha studied 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. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from UC Riverside where she also taught creative writing.

To be notified about upcoming workshops, or to inquire about private coaching or workshops for your school or group, please email.


“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

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