"Drama can be defined as an experience that creates emotion. Drama is a collaborative group art form where people transform, act and reflect upon the human condition. In drama, people are the instruments of inquiry." (Unknown 1998).
In this review I will be discussing Viola Spolin. I will talk about her contributions, views and ideas, with regards to drama in education, the roles of students and teachers and theatre games.
Theatre educator, director, and actress recognized internationally for her "Theatre Games" system of actor training, was raised in a tradition of family theatre amusements, operas, and charades. While she served as a drama supervisor for the Chicago branch of the Works Progress Administration's Recreational Project, 1939-1941, Spolin saw a need for an easily grasped system of theatre training that could cross the cultural and ethnic barriers within the WPA Project. Building upon the experience of Neva Boyd's work at Chicago's Hull House, she developed new games that focused upon individual; creativity, extension of self, motivation, adapting and focusing the concept of play to unlock the individual's capacity for creative self-expression and contact with others through space. These techniques were later to be named "Theatre Games". .
"The games emerged out of necessity," she has said. "I didn't sit at home and dream them up. When I had a problem [directing], I made up a game. When another problem came up, I just made up a new game." (Interview, Los Angeles Times, May 26, 1974) .
Spolin's Theater Games are simple operational structures that change complicated theatre conventions and techniques into game forms. Each game is based on a specific focus or technical problem and is an exercise that militates against the artifice of self-conscious acting. .
The playing or acting comes naturally and spontaneously. Such things as age, background, and content are irrelevant. However, one critic has written that the exercises are "structures designed to almost fool spontaneity into being" (Review, Film Quarterly, Fall/Winter 1963) By themselves, the games have liberating effects, within the theatre context, and each clearly adopts an aspect of performance technique.