All that we do has consequences… except when we improvise poorly.
In real life someone enters a room and there’s a shift in body positions as people check to see who has arrived. People normally adjust their attitude based on the relationship. On stage, we don’t do that. We hold on to unchanging attitudes we established earlier.
This game originally came from the desire to develop an exercise to support Alfred Hitchcock’s theory about Suspense. He believes that the audience must have more knowledge about the danger than the performers. Promises coming from that knowledge must have… CONSEQUENCES!
BENEFITS: Connection, immediacy, Investment in ideas
# PEOPLE: Two person scenes are desirable but it’s easily adapted to three or four
GOAL: Have your partner do a specific behaviour in context of the scene in a limited time or you must pay the consequences for your failure.
- Send one performer off stage where they can’t hear the discussion with the audience.
- Give the remaining performer a suggestion that they must get their partner to do. The suggestion should have some element of emotion or relationship.
- Set a time limit.
- Inform the player that if they are unable to get their partner to accomplish the task in context of the scene, without blatantly telling them to do it, then they will have to pay the price of a consequence.
- Give them the Consequence. It should be strong and impact their relationship. (Breakup, Reveal a harsh truth that will make yourself despised, murder, etc etc)
- Desperate improvisers who just want to win will take cheap paths to getting their partner to do what they want. In the example above, Victoria might say something blatantly obvious like “Tell me how you feel with those three words that tell me your heart is fallen for me!”
There’s no elegance in that. Inform them that if you find that they used tactics that were too blatant and harsh, then they will also have to do the Consequence.
- The action that you choose as the initial endowment must have some importance emotionally or the consequences will seem superficial. Don’t take suggestions like, Jump up and down or comb your hair. Aim at suggestions like scream in horror, sing a lullabye, shed a tear.
- Remember, fulfilling the task is NOT the end of the scene. It’s just inspiration for what they story can become. When played with commitment, a lot of platform material is generated which will make great material for your scene.
Failing to fufill the the task is fine too BUT both performers have to commit to the task. And failing is not failing at all because, the details generated either way are the success for the scene. AND the consequence is going to create a tilt that will put both players into a great state of risk.
THE CONSEQUENCE should be fulfilled in the 30 seconds after the time runs out.
It’s good to yell out a warning at 30 seconds and 10 seconds.
IMPORTANT: CALL OUT THE IMPROVISER IF THEY “WIN” BY MAKING IT TOO EASY. THEY NEED TO PAY THE CONSEQUENCES FOR LACKING ELEGANCE