Story Theater

In the late 60s Second City founding director Paul Sills surprised the Chicago theater scene with a new art form. Players in street garb enacted tales from the oral tradition set to contemporary music on bare, dramatically-lit stages. By 1970 Paul Sills’ Story Theatre had won critical acclaim on both coasts. “Unequivocally great,” wrote Clive Barnes in the New York Times. 

Paul Sills’ Published Scripts 

Paul Sills’ Story Theater, Four Shows:        

  • The Blue Light and Other Stories
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Stories of God by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Rumi, in verse translation by Coleman Barks

Adapted for the stage by Paul Sills. Includes essays and introductions on directing Story Theater by Paul Sills, and “Theater Games for Story Theater” by Viola Spolin. Published by Applause Books, New York, 2000.

For performance permission instructions, please visit here.



Story Theatre, Adapted for the Stage by Paul Sills (Original 1970 Broadway Production):

Available from Samuel French. “Mr. Sills started in New Haven, journeyed to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and wound up on Broadway with this group of famous fables from the Grimm Brothers and Aesop. Here you will meet again Henny Penny, the Golden Goose, Venus and the Cat, the Fisherman and His Wife, The Robber Baron, the Bremen Town Musicians, and other favorites. The fables require talented actors with expressive bodies. And make no mistakes about the quality: this is top drawer adult theatre.”

“An evening of imaginative and unpretentious delight… Fun is predominant.” N.Y. Post

“Let me beat no longer about the bush. I had a great evening last night at ‘Story Theatre.’ I adored the show, which brings back magic and innocence to Broadway, raises charades to the strange eminence of an art form… Great; unequivocally great.” N.Y. Times

“If you are an adult, bring a child. It is an enchanting evening for the entire family.” Hollywood Reporter.

Also Available from Samuel French, More from Story Theatre:

“Here are more theatrical fables from the author of the ever popular 
Story Theatre
. Audiences are delighted by these easy to stage tales from such classics as The Dream of Good Fortune from The Arabian Nights, Old Hildebrand, The Clever Elsie and The Tailor in Heaven from the Grimm Brothers and other great tales from Celtic and Old English folklore. This fun show requires an inventive director and talented actors with expressive bodies. Although this is a great family show which the kids will enjoy, it is also top drawer adult theatre.”

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