Two actors start a scene, everyone else is on the side of the stage. The host every now and again shouts “meanwhile…” and then gives the cast a suggestion for a scene inspired by the current scene. For instance “meanwhile back in the bat cave”. Two different cast members then come on and play the new scene. This continues, with lots of different scenes inspired by each other.
In another version the cast from side of stage can also say “meanwhile” themselves and cut to different scenes without the host.
It can be played as a short-form game and also as a long-form format.
Additional Playing Tips
- When off stage really listen to the scene happening. Try to listen instead of plan.
- When entering the scene jump on with enthusiasm like you want to be there.
- When on stage focus on the relationship in the scene.
Actor 1: Morning Barry, pint of Young’s please.
Actor 2: Morning Marjorie, drinking early today are you?
Actor 1: That’s right Barry, takes the edge off the Grandkids.
Actor 2: Oh yeah, it’s Tuesday, it’s your day for looking after them.
Actor 3 (off stage): Meanwhile, with the Grandkids.
Actor 1 and 2 exit stage. Actor 3 and 4 enter.
Actor 3: Oh mate can’t believe we gotta wait outside this pub while Granny has a knees up.
Actor 4: Yeah, could have at least let us have a go on the pool table.
Actor 3. Yeah. Oh no! She is dancing on the table again!
Actor 5 (off stage): Meanwhile, at the pool table with dancing Granny.
This game is basically long-form in disguise, so it’s a good way of nurturing short-form improvisers into long-form. It gradually gets them used to playing multiple scenes and spotting ways that scenes could connect and patterns emerge.
It’s also a fun way of doing loads of scenes and getting lots of scene practice.
It’s also a fun way to encourage the cast to explore locations.
- All the scenes take place at smaller locations within one larger locations, for instance different rooms within a hotel or different parts of a hotel. This is helpful for training long-form casts to explore locations.
- The host can shout “meanwhile…” or the cast can shout “meanwhile…”. The cast shouting “meanwhile….” and then giving the next location is a helpful way to start teaching them long-form.
- There’s also a variation where the audience give the meanwhiles when asked between each scene.
- The game can also be modified easily to make new formats. For instance The Rough Guide to London format where someone from the audience reads a random location out from The Rough Guide to London or other guidebook and the cast use that description to inspire their scenes and explore that location, and then after a couple of scenes a new location is read out by someone else from a different guidebook.
“This game is called Meanwhile. We’re going to start with two of our players doing a scene, and when another player shouts “Meanwhile” we’ll move to that new location. To get us started could I get some suggestions of a location?”
This seems to be widely played everywhere, but if you know the origin please let us know and we will add here.
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