The late Paul Sills, whose mother was Viola Spolin, originated The Second City and Story Theater. He was co-founder of Playwrights Theatre Club, Compass, The Game Theater, Sills & Co., and the New Actors Workshop, a graduate level acting program in Manhattan begun in 1987 with colleagues Mike Nichols and George Morrison. Paul Sills’ Story Theater: Four Shows, published by Applause Books, includes “Theater games for Story Theater” by Viola Spolin. Paul was posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2012.

Carol Bleackley Sills
, director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works, has been Viola Spolin’s editor since 1983. She studied with Spolin and collaborated with husband Paul Sills to create many theaters, including The Game Theater, Story Theater, The Body Politic, Century Hall, The Learning Theater and Sills & Co. She presents workshops annually at the Wisconsin Theater Game Center and has directed at universities and theaters around the country, including The Tao of Chuang Chou at New Actors Workshop in New York. She is also a painter and educator. 


Our workshops are dedicated to the practice of Viola Spolin’s work as found in her writings

published by Northwestern University Press:

  • Improvisation for the Theater (3rd Edition)
  • A Director’s Handbook: Theater Games for Rehearsal
  • Theater Games for the Classroom
  • Theater Games for the Lone Actor
  • The Theater Game File
For a comprehensive biography of Viola Spolin, please visit her official website.


Articles and Interviews

Interview: Paul Sills Reflects on Story Theatre
by Laurie Ann Gruhn, The Drama Teacher Teacher

Second City and Story Theater Founder Paul Sills
by William N. Stavru, The Bardian, November 1996

Spolin and Sills Laid Down the Rules. The Generations Who Came After Played by Them. That’s How Chicago Invented Itself.
by Todd London, American Theatre, July/August 1990