This is a really fun and effective exercise to teach scene structure. This exercise isn’t a rule of how to do scenes, it’s just practice, and you can play around with it a lot and work out your own variations. In reality in a show there are endless ways to do scenes, these type of exercises just open up the possibilities.
Before the scene starts the improvisers are given an order and roles to do in the scene:
Improviser 1 – goes on stage first and establishes a location through object work, activity and saying things out loud.
Improviser 2 – steps on stage second to establish the relationship with Improviser 1 and they play the scene.
Improviser 3 – enters to escalate something they see in the scene. For instance the emotion, the relationship, a pattern or game of the scene.
Improviser 4 – steps on stage to end the scene. For instance by reincorporating something that has been left behind, making a connection, entering as someone who has been mentioned but not seen yet or even just saying a couple of lines as if it is the end.
Repeat the exercise for a new suggestion with everyone taking different roles.
The variations to this exercise are endless, and playing with them in a workshop is part of the fun. Here are a couple of recommendations:
- Playing with the order of above.
- Having more than one person coming in to escalate things.
- Just having two improvisers but them doing all the roles themselves.
We originally learnt this from Alan Marriott and Dylan Emery at The Crunchy Frog Collective in London.