pertaining to Viola Spolin and her work:

Archived collections of Viola Spolin’s papers are available at Northwestern University Library.

The Innovators: Viola Spolin by Jeffrey Sweet
This is a wonderful article detailing the origins of Spolin’s work and its influence.

This selection is from the documentary series, Improv Legends created and produced by: Joel Veenstra and Marc Warzecha

Letter 10  from the Creative Thinking Newsletter on the similarities between Spolin and Piaget, by Hans G. Furth from his book Piaget for Teachers.

Helpful Hints on playing Spolin Games    Observations by Gary Schwartz and Dan Castelanetta

WHERE SPOLIN AND COMEDY IMPROV DIVERGE  Here’s a great article that chronicles the path taken by Second City and the proliferation of Comedy Improv and how it lost the magic that Spolin and Sills began it with.

GROUP GAMES AS A LEARNING MODEL by Gary Schwartz: An article submitted to a teacher’s resource website New Horizons for Learning.

 IMPROV- WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?by Bruce Bebb reprinted from the Hollywood Reporter’s Special Comedy Issue 1988

THE THEORY OF PLAY by Neva L. Boyd. Neva Boyd was Viola Spolin’s teacher and mentor and she had a huge impact on Spolin’s thinking. Boyd developed her theory of play in group and social work in Chicago at Hull House and wrote a very important article on her theory. Viola said of Boyd, “her influence has never left me for a single day.” I have annotated the article to show what I think are some of the sources of Spolin’s theories.

Recollections of Viola Spolin by Jeffrey Sweet, author/playwright who wrote “Something Wonderful Right Away” an oral history of the pioneers of the Spolin Theater Games movement which spawned The Compass and Second City. Visit Jeffrey Sweet’s website by clicking on his name above.


I recently came by portions of a book called Improvisation In Drama , by Anthony Frost & Ralph Yarrow, Macmillan 1990. Some of the book deals with Spolin, Johnstone, and the New York style of Improv verses the Chicago style. This book seems to really understand the differences between the emerging improv styles and Spolin. It is out of print but look for it in the used books market.

Two excerpts in particular… The New York Giants vs. the Chicago Bears a comparison between the improvisation of New York City acting schools and the School of Improvisation founded by Spolin and Sills.

Another excellent excerpt is Chapter 7, Applied Improvisation – A discussion of the Spolin/Johnstone difference. Same book.

Interview- Paul Sills Reflects on Story Theatre

Directing the Metaphoric Mind.  An article by Bernard Downs on teaching and learning Spolin techniques.

Acting teacher Judy Kerr interviews Gary Schwartz from Spotlight Casting Magazine

Gary Schwartz interviewed in the Improv Zone from Gary Schwartz on Vimeo.