Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Last night we worked our opening, String/Rope of Pearls (an exercise I learned from Dave Razowsky), and building characters using La Ronde.

Here’s a description of String of Pearls from Fast Co Create:
For "String of Pearls," the group forms a line. The person at one end is given the first sentence of a story. The person at the end of the line is given the last sentence. Each person in between takes a turn improvising a line of dialogue aimed at making the story progress logically to its pre-set end point.

In Rope of Pearls, players add multiple lines, moving around and changing places until the story is complete.

You guys, we’re born storytellers. It’s super-hard to avoid plot…and learning not to force the narrative is a key to successful genre work. Our brains want so hard to connect dots, but if we don’t enrich the story with strong emotions and surprising details , we’ll find ourselves on a straight, boring, empty path.

Our biggest challenge for this game will be adding specifics and creating relationships…fleshing out the characters and making the environment come alive instead of driving hard to the ending. Next time, we’ll do some “color and advance” work to slow us down.

La Ronde was next. We played it the way I learned it from the old iO group The Neighbors, focusing on heightening characters with each new scene. The job of the character entering is to give the existing character a new, completely different opportunity to be more of who they are.

Which meant a break to work on the characters’ “thing” or “deal”—some hard-core Annoyance stuff.

One of the things that’s most fun about this piece is blending influences from different schools of thought into a pretty traditional Harold format. Annoyance, Viewpoints, Second City, Spolin…they’ll all find their way in.

But ultimately, I’m guided by this note I got from Del Close after performing our take on a structure he’d created that was super-fun to play: “You played all the games very well. I just wish I’d given a shit about any of the characters’ relationships.”

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