The theory of status, and how to play high status, low status and status interactions, is so well written by Keith Johnstone in his book Impro that we aren’t going to write about it here and will just write about the exercise. We highly recommend Keith Johnstone’s book Impro if you’d like to read more about status.
How the exercise works
10 improvisers leave the room.
A situation is established that will be happening when they come back to the room, for instance a party or a networking event. It helps to be specific with the suggestion, for instance “a networking event for companies involved with the internet”.
The improvisers come back into the room one by one. As they come in they are given a piece of paper at random by the teacher with a number between 1 and 10 written on it. They read the number and then pocket it, nobody else sees it.
Number 1 means they will be the lowest status at the party, number 10 means they will be the highest status, number 5 means they will be middle status etc.
They then all role play the event, with their status in mind.
At the end we chat about what happened and then try to guess each person’s status before they reveal it. We observe the body language, spacing, dialogue, behaviour tone of voice and more that helped use guess each status.
- On the second round the teacher may give them all 10 or all 1 without their knowledge, leading to a status battle.
- A fun version is to switch it around and stick the status on people’s backs so everyone knows who they are apart from them. This means we have to work out our status based on how people treat us.
- We can be given two numbers, one for the status we are trying to appear and one for the status we actually feel.
- Body language.
Keith Johnstone. Please read his book Impro for a great chapter on status.