Jane Addams Hull-House Museum welcomes Aretha Sills for a presentation and Q&A regarding the work of Neva Boyd, Viola Spolin, Paul Sills and the Origins of Improvisational Theater in America.
In 1955, Paul Sills called Compass—widely considered the first improvisational theater in the United States—“a search for a community.” Viola Spolin (originator of Theater Games and author of Improvisation for the Theater) and her son Paul Sills (founding director of Compass, The Second City and Story Theater) created a new form of theater that celebrated progressive ideals of liberty, community and democracy. Aretha Sills will trace the roots of Spolin and Sills’ work through family stories, personal history, photographs and their own words and writing. Her talk will begin with Spolin’s teacher, pioneering social worker and educator Neva Boyd, and continue through the Progressive-era activism cultivated at Jane Addams’ Hull-House in Chicago.
Aretha Sills is the granddaughter of Viola Spolin. She studied theater games for many years with her father, Paul Sills (creator/director of The Second City and Story Theater), and has conducted workshops for Paul Sills’ Wisconsin Theater Game Center, Bard College, Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Stockholm International School, Sarah Lawrence College and Northwestern University. She has worked with Tony and Emmy Award winning actors and has trained faculty from Northwestern, DePaul, Columbia College, The Second City, The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and many other institutions and schools. She is the Associate Director of Sills/Spolin Theater Works and she directs The Predicament Players.
This program is a part of Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change (September 6, 2018 to July 28, 2019), a multidisciplinary exhibition that explores the Hull-House Social Settlement's influence on visual and performing arts in Chicago and beyond. Through historical and contemporary practices the exhibition explores: bookbinding, the origins of art therapy, ceramics, theater and performance. The exhibition features artworks and artifacts from the Museum and the Special Collections at the University of Illinois at Chicago—many of which have rarely, if ever, been publicly displayed.
Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy, with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. Participatory Arts is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
The Chicago Community Trust has also provided generous support.