Take a class with Viola Spolin with this video

You may have never had the chance to take a class with Viola Spolin but now you can ...do the next best thing. Watch this short video from Joel Veenstra and Marc Warzecha and get a glimpse of the creation of theater games and their impact.

Learn about the Follow the Follower concept.

Valerie Harper describes why Viola came up with Touch Talk, the game where actors must be in physical contact with each other in order to speak.

Take look at the Space Walk activity.

Hear how Side Coaching came into the work and how it's used to help teach the improvisers how to succeed.

And the paradox?  She changed so many lives in a deeply personal way yet didn't want to be seen as a guru.

"Don't thank me. Don't thank me, it's not me, it's the work. It's the work.  Don't make me your guru.  Get out."  ~Viola Spolin via Gary Schwartz




"Creativity is not the clever rearranging of the known. "  ~Viola Spolin via Gary Schwartz

"Keep Going"  ~Viola Spolin



If you want more (yes..and...) order a DVD of Viola teaching a class in 1987 and a recording of The Space Walk HERE.

The site is run by Gary Schwartz.  Thanks Gary.

I ordered them both as soon as I knew they existed.

Improv: Stanford University Style via TEDx Talk

Yes they teach Improvisation at Stanford University. It is taught by our good friend, Dan Klein.

Dan shared this thought with me recently:

"Are you looking for inspiration? Inspire someone else. It's kind of like what my mom used to tell me when I would hope to get mail - just go write someone a letter instead of checking the mailbox every hour."  ~Dan Klein

In the video below you'll hear Dan share his view of the value of Improv in this 8 minute TEDx video.

Improv is moving out of the theater and into more and more parts of life.  Dan teaches improv not just to drama students but also to the business students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Platner Institute for Design. This seems like a great idea....there is hope for the world.



Improv Class: The Start of the Beginning

You teach improv, right?  What is the very first exercise that you introduce to the group? Do you do something with a name exercise?    Or do you jump right into an improv activity.

Here is a name exercise that I often use.

Know Your Neighbor Ask the group to get into groups of two.  Ask them to choose which is person 'a' and which is person 'b'.  Ask person 'a' to interview person 'b', finding out their full name, their hometown and a piece of literature that was important to them when they were young.  Then ask for a volunteer among the 'a' people to tell the story of their partner....introducing them to the group with the information they learned.  Then ask that person to choose which pair will go next.  When that is done, repeat the process with person 'b' asking the same questions of person 'a'.

I like that at the end of this exercise everyone has one person that they know and with whom they have shared a story.  I also like that the person who just told the story picks who goes next.  It prevents the predictability of going around in a circle.  This models the improv concept of always being ready.

Have you used this activity?

What activity do you use to start your first class?

Page of Improv Game Videos Started...

A Video of an Improv Game can be more helpful than a description.  Right?  Maybe.

If that's true for you then you will enjoy this page that has just been started by Keith Hanshaw.  Keith is the producer of an improv group in Harrisburg Pennsylvania called Don't Break the Streak Improv.

Keith is currently seeking your videos for inclusion on this page.

View the page and contact Keith HERE.

Hosting a work party - improv style part 2

In Hosting a work party - improv style part 1, I talked about emceeing a work party on your own. Here are some games that can adapt well to a work environment. Of course, you can always contact William or Rich and get some help or have us help you with hosting, improvising, teaching some improv, or just helping choose and adapt games for your audience.

Here are some games to try:


Have everyone stand up and then ask a question that has many levels and have people sit when their answer matches the ones you have prepared.An example:

When did you last eat sushi? Sit down if you answer is: (allow 5 seconds for each stage for people to sit and observe)

  1. Never
  2. Once
  3. Within the last year
  4. Within the last month
  5. Within the last week
  6. Within two days

If you ever...

Guests take turns saying something that is true about themselves. The crowd stands up with them if it’s also true saying “me too” or sits if it is not true of themselves.  Every person in the audience decides for themselves to  stand or sit on each truth revealed depending on if it is also true for them.

String of pearls

  1. Have 7-9 people come up and stand at the back of the stage.
  2. Have the audience tell the beginning line of a made up story and the ending line of a totally different story.
  3. Have two players stand at opposite ends of the front of the stage and say the two lines form the audience as if it was one story.
  4. Have a thrid person move between the first two on the front of the stage and add a line in the middle of the story. Repeat all the lines in this, now, 3 line story.
  5. Add another person with their own line and repeat again.
  6. In the last round, will have all players at the front of the stage, in order, with one line each.
  7. Together they will have created a complete story and can recite the lines in order to tell it.  Tell them to “sell it” and really pump up the drama in their own line.

Secret Handshake

  1. Everyone stands up and finds a partner. They have 1 minute to create a brand new secret handshake between them, and practice it so they remember.
  2. Have everyone find a new partner and share their favorite childhood book.
  3. Continue finding new partners and sharing information on topics (there is a list below)
  4. Then call out a topic names (secret handshake partner, childhood book partner) and they have to find that partner in the room and and share the info again quickly (do the hand shake, say the name of the book).
  5. Continue calling out topics until you feel the game is over.
  • Secret handshake
  • favorite childhood book
  • embarrassing story (title the other persons and share that title)
  • noise from childhood (person, game, environment - make the noise)
  • nicknames
  • secret dance
  • life dream
  • favorite vacation spot

Try to keep it as simple as possible and focus on fun!