Viola Spolin’s granddaughter, Aretha Sills writes.

Aretha Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied theater games for many years with her father, director Paul Sills, and has conducted workshops at Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College Cabaret, Northwestern University, and around the country.


I love your illustration of Spolin’s quote and have shared it to the Facebook page for Sills/Spolin Theater Works.

Bravo as well for your thoughtful and eloquent reply to the misreading of an out-of-context quote. I recently read that very quote in a talk to a group of drama teachers (including its famous opening, “Everyone can act. Everyone can improvise. Anyone who wishes to can play in the theater and learn to become stageworthy.”) and I looked up to see many in the audience smiling and nodding, because, well, they’re teachers and they understand how people learn. One of them later thanked me for reading it because her mother, who was also a drama teacher, had taught it to her.

The talk was about how Spolin’s work came directly out of the progressive education movement, as you touch on here, via her work with a great teacher, Neva Boyd. This was something Paul Sills wanted every one of his students to understand. He spoke of it at the beginning of each workshop I took with him over the years.

-Aretha Sills

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