So, last night in rehearsal we repeated the exercise described here previously called “The Routine Routine.” Then, since we are working toward a long form narrative structure, We added another scene, wherein a third character enters and provides the “But then one day” energy to the story. (We are basing our structure on Kenn Adams’ Story Spine. Read more about Kenn’s remarkable work Here)
Kat and Amy played a scene, first described, then acted with dialogue, between a mom who didn’t like her daughter much, and that adolescent daughter. The scene took place while the mom finished dinner and the daughter angrily set the table. It was (in a good way, mind you) uncomfortable to watch. Both characters were smiling deadly smiles as they fenced and jousted their way through the routine. At the end of the scene, the mom announced that she was going out with her new boyfriend, the hot dog cook “who attended the BOCES culinary program!”
Details abounded. And mattered. There was spaghetti sauce, a sideboard with silverware, cabinets, a table…all of them used to underscore the really miserable ongoing relationship between mom and daughter. We learned about the absent father. We learned about the new boyfriend. And we learned a huge amount about the very unhappy life the two characters were living.
Lights down, Lights up. Mom was sitting next to daughter, now appearing more conciliatory, even consoling. We didn’t have a chance to find out why: Nick entered, as the boyfriend. He took command immediately. Sitting at the table, he asked the mom: “Did you tell her?” Note that he wasted no time: Nick’s job was to provide the big, “It’s Tuesday!” energy, and he did it immediately. Great choice!
The mom had told her. . The mom and boyfriend had decided it was time for the seventeen year old daughter to leave the house.
Kat made another great choice at that moment playing the daughter. She said “Yeah, she told me.” And left. boom. I really loved that choice, because it’s so daring: There’s a whole long (quite possibly maudlin, melodramatic) scene that begs to be played out between the three of them, but the outcome has been decided. So….poof!
Now, we are really in a moment of crisis. What do we know? We know that probably, the main character is either the mom or the daughter, probably not the boyfriend. But we aren’t sure which yet. We do know that the boyfriend has set in motion a series of events that will definitely change their relationship. Both mom and daughter face huge challenges now—mom in dealing with her choice and the guilt it provokes, dealing with the boyfriend who clearly pushed the issue of kicking out her daughter– and the daughter dealing with sudden teenage homelessness.
The next scene, with its completely unknown developments, would tell us the direction the story would take. Of course, in this particular instance, we’ll never know. But that’s OK—there are a zillion stories waiting to be discovered.