The presentation of never before seen commentary of Viola Spolin. Direct transcript quotations from master classes given by the 'godmother of improvisational theater', that exemplify both her process and philosophy. Video of her peers, disciples, critics and admirers, discussing her early life and iconic place in American Theater.





March 7, 1977

VS: To player, “Where along the way did you ask yourself the question: ‘Am I doing it right?’ Audience, do you know when she asked that? How did I know?

Player:  Because I was just sitting there.

VS: You gave yourself away.

Player: How?

VS: You looked at me. Teacher.

Player: I don’t remember that.

VS: I said you gave yourself away.

Player: (started to say something but it became just a stutter or sputter.)

VS: Don’t defend.

Player: I don’t recall doing it.

VS: Of course you don’t. I said you gave yourself away. If you recalled, you would not have given yourself away. It doesn’t matter. If you kids keep on defending yourselves, my work in the last four months has been for nothing. For nothing, nothing, nothing. You are still defending position. I don’t attack you, Player. I love you. I don’t know about I love you, but I am very fond of you. (laughter) That makes it even harder on a person when that possibility exists. Okay, I have been in the theater for years and the littlest indication is important. I had my kids rehearse barefoot so I could watch their toes. Why do I watch their feet. Because if they say something like this (passionately speaking) and their feet are dead, I know damn well, it’s just words from the mouth. I happen to be a body person. I’m quick to the body. That comes from years in this work. Remember – trivia is not trivial. It is in the trivia that we give ourselves away. Giving yourself away means that you are giving yourself away. That’s all.

archival footage