What’s so special about Spolin?

Viola Spolin: Creator of the
Original Improv Technique

Viola Spolin was my teacher, dear friend and mentor.
Her work changed my life.  It will change yours.

My passion is teaching her work and sharing its transformative power with all who are interested. – Gary Schwartz 

This training lifts us out of our reward seeking, failure fearing, anxiety ridden, self-conscious culture to which we are all unfortunately conditioned. And to which we have adapted.

Spolin’s work operates from a different paradigm:  Non-authoritarian, non-intellectual, non-judgmental group agreement.  Where one is a part-of- a-whole; a fellow player in relation to others to your fullest capacity.

“Gary Schwartz is a gifted player/coach. He has a thorough understanding of my work”. – Viola Spolin

Spolin Improv creates strong, unified, teams made up of dynamic individuals all working together, staying present and excited and fully involved in any endeavor.

It erases fear of judgment (by self or others) and makes playing (true effort) an end in itself. It allows for different levels of skill and makes peers of you and your fellow players, directors, bosses and subordinates. It levels the playing field to see each other as fellow players all capable of playing full out whatever the role or title.

And best of all, it is readily accessible because it is done using play!

Since her retirement in 1980, Ms. Spolin has endorsed Gary Schwartz, who continues to explore her work.

About Viola Spolin:

Theater educator, director, and actress recognized internationally for her “Theater Games” system of actor training, was raised in a tradition of family theater amusements, operas, and charades.

Viola Spolin trained initially (1924-26) to be a settlement worker, studying at Neva Boyd’s Group Work School in Chicago. Boyd’s innovative teaching in the areas of group leadership, recreation, and social group work strongly influenced Spolin, as did the use of traditional game structures to affect social behavior in inner-city and immigrant children.

From 1960 to 1965, she worked with Paul Sills (her son) as workshop director for Second City Company. The alumni of this world famous improvisational theater include, Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, David Steinberg, Alan Arkin, Valerie Harper, Ed Asner and many others. She continued to teach and develop Spolin Games theory while working with these and other notable talents.

Beyond the very tangible pleasures of playing which the games encompass, they also heighten sensitivity, increase self-awareness, and effect group and interpersonal communication. As a result, Spolin’s games have developed currency beyond actor training, that is, in encountering techniques, self-awareness programs, and nonverbal communication studies and more recently, in business.