Chistian, Stacy, and Greg eat Sam Wo noodles during Thursday night's show.
Aaron and Merrill in the background.
In a dystopian future, Max (Scott) and Billy (Alan) steal a cloned Christmas tree from a lab--possibly the last tree on earth. Grown up without trees in a Wal-Mart world, young Billy wants to ransom it. But gruff ex-con Max wants to take it up north to Canada, where trees are rumored still to exist, and plant it. With a kidnapped lab security guard (Claire) in tow, they begin the long march north. Meanwhile, the scientist (Mandy) tries to keep the plant cloning project alive in the face of Big Business, even if it means invading what little nature remains.Mandy wanted to keep rehearsal short on Tuesday, and to get up on our feet and do some scene work. We worked on scenes where the characters had conflicting objectives. This is something we get quite often from the playwright's first scene. The problem is, we can't spend two hours arguing about it, but in most cases we also can't resolve it or the play would end. This is a problem.
In order to keep such things from degenerating into a shouting match of "Yes you are!/No I'm not!", we discovered a few keys. For one thing, one character inevitably has more status and more control over the situation. The lower-status character needs to acknowledge that, otherwise it becomes to improvisors fighting like kids on a playground.
"I shot you!"The scene can't go anywhere unless the status/power imbalance is recognized and accepted. Still, that doesn't mean the higher-status person automatically gets their way.
"I'm wearing a bullet-proof vest!"
"My bullets go through bullet-proof vests!"
"I have indestructible piercing bullets"
The other key is to talk about how the situation makes you feel, not procedurally how you are going to get the other character to do what you want them to do. It's sort of a plot vs. character thing. As the audience, we don't really care how things happen. We care about how the things that happen change people.
Which brings us to another point that we worked on in some larger group scenes: decisions have to be made. Until someone decides something, no character can react to it. What's more, in most cases, they have to be allowed to do what they decide. Even if your character has the power to stop it, if you stop it, you're not letting the story move forward, because if it doesn't happen, we can't see how it changes the characters. This is pretty abstract stuff, and I don't know if I'm summarizing it properly. It was hard to grasp as we were working on it.
Example: One character says "I'm going to get you drunk." If the other character says "No." and refuses to drink, we're right back where we started. (Unless the first person is changed by the second saying 'No'.) But if the second person acts as though they are powerless to stop the first person and gets drunk in spite of their own protestations, the action moves forward.
So, it's a paradox. Sometimes in a show your character might have an objective that they cannot achieve because if they do the play will end. While at the same time, characters need to be continually achieving objectives in order for other characters to be changed.