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Aretha Sills — SE03 EP14

Our penultimate episode of Season 3 is with Aretha Sills – the granddaughter of Viola Spolin – widely considered the mother of modern improvisational theater) an daughter of Paul Sills (founder and initial director The Second City in Chicago, as well as Story Theater).  Aretha studied for many years with her father and is an outstanding instructor in her own right, having worked with Tony- and Emmy-Award winning actors and having 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. Aretha is presently the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and directs The Predicament Players.

In our conversation, we look at the whole of improv.  In re-considering the genesis and revolutionary utilization of theater games and the experiential learning approach of Viola Spolin against the backdrop of a variety of narratives about what improv is, it becomes apparent that not only are some unaware of the impact and importance of Viola Spolin, but that the Mother of Improv has been written out or ignored to our detriment. Hopefully we help right some of that wrong in this episode.

Find Aretha and more on all things Spolin/Sills at:

Viola Spolin

Sills/Spolin Theater Works 


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Comments · 1

  • Patrick Caporuscio · January 5, 2021

    Refreshing to me as I have never considered anyone other than Viola Spolin as the creator of Improvisation.
    I recently have been disappointed when I learned that some people involved in Improv did not even know who she was.
    Thank you Aretha for sharing your experiences and elegant perspectives.