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 →

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 →

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 →

Story, story…LIVE!

The game of Building a Story is a staple with improv groups around the world. It is the essence of collaboration by building a story one word at a time and by sharing ideas using give and take and intense listening. Invariably, the challenge wakes you up and your focus becomes stronger. There are many.. read more →

The Difference between Spolin Games and Popular Improv

There is a profundity in Spolin’s work that is hard to capture and commoditize. It cannot be learned intellectually, but must be experienced firsthand to really be understood. There are only a handful of teachers carrying on her tradition, myself being one of them.
Improvisation began with Spolin. But other popular forms have emerged as more popular and have swept the world. I will try to explain the reason for this. read more →

Show! Don’t Tell!

When you don’t see where you are, all you can do is talk about it. You get a suggestion for a scene: Who — A husband and wife. Where — at Disneyland. What — waiting to get on a ride. Most players will begin the scene with dialogue something like this. Husband:  Well, well, dear.. 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 →