Direct Experience and Peak Experiences

“What we are after is a direct experience!” — Viola Spolin I used to think that a direct experience is the same as what Abraham Maslow called the ‘peak experience’. Maslow coined the term to describe what other people have referred to as a ‘religious experience’ as in a born again feeling where the subject.. read more →

How to Leave Your Ego at the Door

“Enough about me… What do you think about me?” Making Your Partner Look Good “Make your partner look good!” is a coach used in current improvisational training. The reason this coach is valuable is because it is based on the idea that there is more opportunity for good improv by being more concerned with your.. read more →

What Does it Mean to Improvise?

“Creativity is not the clever rearranging of the known.” – Viola Spolin Creativity is a state that allows us to touch the unknown and to bring it into the phenomenal world: To make the invisible visible. The unknown is a territory that holds all possibilities, until it is revealed. The act of revealing – that is.. read more →

The Art of Sidecoaching

The most subtle and essential element in Spolin Games is sidecoaching. The sidecoach is at once a fellow player, a grounded teacher and a canny director. Sidecoaching is as much a skill as it is an art. It therefore requires the same intuitive ability evoked by playing. In addition, the sidecoach has to also be.. read more →

The Genius of Preoccupation

Spolin’s pathway to the Unknown The [Spolin’s Theater Games] exercises are artifices against artificiality, structures designed to almost fool spontaneity into being–or perhaps a frame carefully built to keep out interferences in which the player waits. Important in the game is the ‘ball’ — the FOCUS, a technical problem, sometimes a double technical problem which.. read more →

A Sense of Urgency

Using Slow Motion to counteract Urgency  This happened to me in an early workshop with Viola when we were working on The Where: The scene is a spaceship. I’m the navigator. Andy is the captain, and we have two prisoners from another planet on board. I sit placidly at my controls downstage. The captain yells.. read more →

Being Directed by Viola Spolin

At one point in our workshop we petitioned Viola to work with us on scripted material. She agreed and we brought in prepared scenes. My scene partner, Marti and I chose Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, a Greek comedy about women objecting to war and their husbands’ constant fighting by calling for a boycott of sex with their.. read more →

What’s in a Game?

“Acting requires presence. Playing produces this state.” – Viola Spolin When I assisted Viola Spolin in various workshops, the very first thing we would play was a game of “Swat Tag”. The game involves a group of people sitting in chairs, a ‘home base’ (a chair or stool set out in front of the group).. read more →

My Big Breakthrough

          “…trying to force an insight can actually prevent the insight. While it is commonly assumed that the best way to solve a difficult problem is to relentlessly focus, this clenched state of mind comes with a hidden cost; it inhibits the sort of creative connections that lead to breakthroughs.” –.. read more →

Tales of Viola Spolin

How Viola Spolin Helped Me Overcome Self-Pity “Poor me. Nobody loves me.” Underneath my cheerful façade, underneath my very well developed sense of humor, I walked aroundHollywoodwith that deeply embedded in my soul. I was working as a bartender, ministering to and medicating others’ pain with banter and booze while chasing the dream of being.. read more →