Focusing Stage Picture: Staging an environment in a group game breeds potential complications as players abandon pattern for roles and over-prioritize explaining who they are and what they’re doing. But attention to the elements of stage picture can help focus a group scene and facilitate quick collaborative heightening.
STAGE PICTURE TABLEAUS – One by one, players enter stage, fleshing out a picture with static poses and/or repetitive motion. Teacher gives a suggestion of a location, for example, “Apple Orchard,” “Beach,” “Race Track.”
• Players tend to want to fill in all the possible roles in a location. An orchard has pickers, trees, baskets, landscapers, squirrels.
• Ask “Where’s the focus?” They won’t know.
• Build deliberately with agreement – There’s no reason we can’t all be trees. A scene about five trees and one squirrel will be easier to find and heighten faster than a scene where six separate entities struggle for reason to exist.
• Seek symmetries; empower asymmetries
• Ask “Is this a One Person, Two Person, or Three Person Scene?”
• Ask “Who should talk first?”
• Have them point out the groups, defining focus. Point out Upstage/Downstage distinctions for focus. Point out who can see who, and so who has to take their cues from who
• Push them to define more and more abstract environments; i.e., NASA, Hell.
• Speed loading – have everyone crowd the space quickly upon hearing the suggestion, making bold choices and seeking symmetries faster.
ONE, TWO, THREE PERSON SCENES – Player build tableaus and then get to talk. Remember, Self Contained Emotional Statements. To start, players should align their emotional perspectives with the other players they are physically mirroring/complimenting.
• Simplify and find focus through agreement in stage picture and emotional perspectives
• There’s no reason we can’t always do One Person Scenes – even if our physicality is different
• When you do have groups, don’t fall to negotiations, arguments or other lines of questioning – exploring juxtaposed emotional perspectives is all the scene we need
• Have everyone pick someone to agree with before the suggestion is given – players can mirror/compliment one player’s physicality and another player’s emotional perspective; it can be fun to surrender to being forced into aligning with a perspective despite “sense”