To establish sustainable scenes, it is helpful to remember that each player on stage can have at least one Personal and Scenic game at their disposal to heighten.
Personal Game – how you react to who you are, where you are or what you’re doing
* I love cake; when I eat a piece I’m overcome with joy and I sigh involuntarily
Scenic Game – how you react to who your scene partner is, what your scene partner is doing or how your scene partner is acting
* Greg is my hero; when he criticizes me I’m destroyed and flagellate myself
* We are scared of ghosts; when we hear a noise we freak and run around
The games represent a pattern of behavior established through evolving rules. Establishing and leveraging these games A) enable players to react through rather than think through scenes and B) engage the audience, letting them know our characters through their patterns of emotional behavior and care about them.
Inspired by a Harold‘s use of neon light, Patrick initiates a scene with a Self Contained Emotional Statement in which he establishes a kinship with the “inert gas that doesn’t mix with other elements.”
David reacts, establishing a scenic game between them as a store clerk who wants to sell this sadsack a lamp.
Patrick channels his personal game through a new object in their environment – a fluorescent lamp whose “buzz” makes Patrick not feel as alone.
David reacts, establishing his personal game as “never alone.”
Patrick reacts, establishing his end of the scenic game as jealousy.
Patrick reengages his personal game, now finding a lamp that responds to his touch.
David reacts through his personal game’s lens: he does this “every day.”
Patrick reacts through his end of the scenic game: “Tell me you’re hiring.”
With “now we are,” David not only shares an authentic in-the-moment reaction with the audience but also flips the script, allowing him to be sold on Patrick’s need for company. And the audience loves it, because, through their established patterns of behavior, they’ve come to know these characters and, most importantly, they’ve come to care.
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