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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Woman of the Day VIOLA SPOLIN

For a short while on my facebook account, I've been discovering and sharing a woman of the day.  Some of these women have been my personal SHEROES (thank you for the description Maya Angelou!) All I know is that all of these women have been inspiring, real or fictional, from any walk of life...they are all outstanding, motivating and amazing. 

I've been completing this task as a challenge to myself to discover a little more every day about women's stories. 

I'm extending my task to BLOGGER today! 

SO...

WOMAN OF THE DAY


VIOLA SPOLIN




"She has genius and shares it" - Valerie Harper


In the 1920s, a young Viola Spolin studied with Neva Boyd at the Recreational Training School in Chigago.  Neva taught a one-year educational program in group games, gymnastics, dancing, dramatic arts, play theory, and social problems. (Her book 'Handbook of Recreational Games' contains descriptions for 300 childrens games and their uses)

Inspired by her training Viola Spolin began to explore the use of games, storytelling and folkdance as tools for stimulating creative expression.  Along with Neva Boyd, she started out on a life-long journey to explore this.  The godmother of improvisation was born!

During her extraordinary life as a theatre practitioner Viola went on to work extensively in professional, educational, community and children's theatre.  Her techniques have massively impacted on so much work created today by actors, directors, writers and educationalists.  She has also inspired the worlds of social work, mental health and psychology.

Her book 'Improvisation for the Theater' sets her apart as the go to person for inspiration in practice. 
I certainly use this book, along with the excellent 'Theater Game File' and her others.  I use them constantly in the course of my work and I always strongly recommend others to use them too. 






Viola Spolin died in 1994, but her legacy lives on through the techniques that she created.  There is also the Spolin Centre, which carrys on exploring her techniques. One day I hope to visit.  It was run for some time by her son Paul Sills, who was a key player at THE SECOND CITY improvisation theatre in Chicago.  Another on the list of places that I must go!






The Spolin Centre website is well worth a visit:  http://www.spolin.com/

As is The Second City website: http://www.secondcity.com/history/


As for this posting, the last words belong to the magnificent Viola Spolin:

  • Play touches and stimulates vitality, awakening the whole person – mind, body, intelligence and creativity

  • Everyone can act. Everyone can improvise. Anyone who wishes to can play in the theater and learn to become 'stage-worthy.'  We learn through experience and experiencing, and no one teaches anyone anything. This is as true for the infant moving from kicking and crawling to walking as it is for the scientist with his equations. 

  • If the environment permits it, anyone can learn whatever they choose to learn; and if the individual permits it, the environment will teach him everything it has to teach. 'Talent' or 'lack of talent' have little to do with it.

  • Through spontaneity we are re-formed into ourselves. It creates an explosion that for the moment frees us from handed-down frames of reference, memory choked with old facts and information and undigested theories and techniques of other people's findings. Spontaneity is the moment of personal freedom when we are faced with reality, and see it, explore it and act accordingly. In this reality the bits and pieces of ourselves function as an organic whole. It is the time of discovery, of experiencing, of creative expression.

  • We learn through experience and experiencing, and no one teaches anyone anything. This is as true for the infant moving from kicking to crawling to walking as it is for the scientist with his equations. If the environment permits it, anyone can learn whatever he chooses to learn; and if the individual permits it, the environment will teach him everything it has to teach.

My hat is high!

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