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Inventing Improv: A Chicago Stories Special

Gilda Radner Chris Farley Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Eugene Levy John Belushi Julia Louis Dreyfus John Candy Keegan Michael Key Elaine May and Mike Nichols Steven Yeun Tim Meadows
Viola Spolin

Viola Spolin’s Influence on Improv

From the well-known improvisational comedy theaters such as The Second City that draw big crowds to the tiny storefront theaters where people get together for casual improv jams, Chicago has become a capital city of comedy. But the origins of improvisation don’t actually stem from comedy. Its very early roots are actually in a Chicago settlement house, where a young woman learned about group play from a sociologist. That young woman, Viola Spolin, whom many consider the “Mother of Improv,” went on to create a series of theater games that ultimately sparked an entire improvisation movement in the theater community. Where did that inspiration come from, and how many other people did she inspire? Read more


Learn How to Play Improv Games

Lead support for Chicago Stories is provided by The Negaunee Foundation and the Jim and Kay Mabie Family.

Additional support is provided by the Walter E. Heller Foundation.

Major support for Inventing Improv: A Chicago Stories Special is provided by The Abra and Jim Wilkin Fund.

Additional support is provided by Denny and Sandy Cummings and Sonia T. Marschak.