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Northwestern University celebrates "High Priestess of Improv"

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Northwestern University Library is hosting a free, public exhibit honoring Viola Spolin, one of Improv comedy's leading ladies whose innovative improv games and acting exercises laid the foundation for much of today's popular comedy.

"Viola Spolin: Improvisation and Intuition," runs from April 1 through August 16 at the university's library, 1970 Campus Drive in Evanston.

"The improv games and that style of improv that people associate with Second City and Saturday Night Live came from her," said Clare Roccaforte, director of Northwestern library public relations.

The games - some unpublished - are on display as well as photographs, her writing and audio and video clips. Spolin published her book "Improvisation for the Theater" through Northwestern's press. It was one of the publisher's best-selling books.

Spolin's son Paul Sills was a co-founder of Second City. She also assisted Sills and David Shepard in founding the Compass Theater, the nation's first improv theater.

"Ensemble comedy TV shows like '30 Rock,' improvisational theaters around the country and the movies of Christopher Guest and others who take an improvisational approach to film build on the groundbreaking work of Viola Spolin," said Dan Zellner, University Library digital media specialist and one of the exhibit's curators, in a statement.

The exhibit is open to Northwestern students with ID during open library hours. The public can get a free look at the tribute to Spolin between 8:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at University Library.

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This page contains a single entry by Kara Spak published on March 14, 2013 10:25 AM.

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