The Layers of the Onion

Silent Tension without Who, What and Where* It had been maybe two years of Wednesday afternoon workshops with Viola before we did an exercise called Silent Tension without Who, What and Where. “I don’t do this one right away.” she said to us. “But now that you have No-Motion and some games behind you, I.. read more →

The Language of Authority

Do this, don’t do that! Like this! Here’s how I want it! That’s better! That’s rotten! That’s not funny! Now that was FUNNY! That’s what I want! — spoken by a director at a recent improv workshop I attended. If you teach or direct, you must be mindful of your role as leader and work to be.. read more →

The Fear Factor and My Ghostly Voices

The Scene: Improv Class with the legendary Viola Spolin. “Alright.” she says. “Who wants to go next?” I hesitate. The ‘What if…?’ dialogue: “What if I can’t do it?” That’s where it starts for me. I get afraid. “Afraid of what?” “Not being able to do it? Then people will laugh at me?” “Hey! I’m.. read more →

What I Learned at the House of Genius

The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. – Pablo Picasso read more →

Transcend the known and knock on the door of the Intuition

The Games of Viola Spolin are designed to teach more than theater. They are doorways into an unknown. And by playing, we go forth unafraid and with joy! read more →

See Unlabeled

Intuition is not just a word

When you hear a word too often it can lose its meaning.
Often Viola would exchange the word intuition for other phrases that she felt kept you cognizant about the meaning of Intuition. She would use words like treasure house, or X-Area, the Unknown in place of Intuition. It is often over-used as a word and its meaning can be easily overlooked by labeling it. read more →

Body – Mind – Intuition

 “If you can get it out of the head and into the body…Body, Mind, Intuition. This is what we’re after. Body, Mind, Intuition” – Viola Spolin The quote above was directed to sixty teachers in a workshop Viola ran and which I assisted. I’ve had the great good fortune to absorb this mantra throughout my.. read more →

Teacher, Coach Thyself

Sidecoaching is essential to a game and helps the player breakthrough his or her resistance(s) whatever they may be, and soar into that unknown area, their own treasure house of creativity and intuition where growth and transformation occurs. Sidecoaching is an art in itself and a necessary component of Spolin Games that gets to the.. read more →

The Paradox of Side-Coaching

Solving my “Shut-Off”   “My work is not Psychodrama!! Never use your own tears! Use the character’s tears!” Viola proclaimed this very emphatically when we would try to work out our personal problems in a scene. Some actors in our workshop were trained to use ‘sense memory’ and transfer the sadness of a personal event.. read more →

Commentary on Spolin’s Tips and Pointers: Part 1

How we do something is the process of doing (right now!). Pre-planning “How” makes process impossible and so becomes resistance to the focus of the exercise, and no “explosion” or spontaneity can take place, making any change or alterations in the student-actor impossible. True improvisation re-shapes and alters the student-actor through the act of improvising itself. Penetration into the focus, connection, and a live relation with fellow players result in a change, alteration, or new understanding for one or the other or both. In time, during the solving of the acting problem the student becomes aware of being acted upon and of acting, thereby creating process and change within his or her stage life. The intuition gained remains with the player in everyday life, for whenever a circuit is opened for anyone, so to speak, it is usable everywhere. read more →