OPENING SCENE: A long (6-8min) two person scene that is all about providing information that will be used in the rest of the piece. This scene is all about relationship and exploring the problem that is presented (but not solved) in this opening scene.
TWO (2) THEMATIC SCENES (2-3mins): Each THEMATIC SCENE is dedicated to exploring what the opening scene was ABOUT by taking what one of the Opening Scene's characters did and exploring their WANTS/FLAWS (this is where you explore what, as Miles Stroth describes, "is it about that character that will ultimately lead them to live the rest of their life unhappy?”). Example: The opening scene was about a married couple on the edge of divorce. They’re disagreeing about their future; one of them wants to sell their possessions and travel the world,while the other is ready to settle down and have a family. The first thematic scene could be about someone else who desires freedom (i.e. two prisoners willing to risk their lives by escaping Alcatraz), and the second thematic scene could be about someone else who wants to stay put or invest in the future (i.e. Greenpeace activists who have chained themselves to a redwood).
RETURN TO THE OPENING SCENE (1 1/2-2mins): After seeing how others perceived the characters of the opening scene, the Opening Scene (and the improvisers who played them) return and expand on that idea. This is the time to clarify/solidify what the rest of the piece is ABOUT. This is where you will discover if the show is going to be about a larger THEME (i.e. Freedom, War, Racism, etc.)
FIVE (5) COMMENTARY SCENES (1 1/2-2mins long): These scenes are to COMMENT on, in Miles' words, “what was fucked up about what those two people said in the Opening Scene?" These scenes are extremely game heavy and should focus on "bits" - straight man vs. absurd man. The easiest way to go about this is what Miles calls the "doctor/priest/president" phenomenon.
If the OPENING SCENE was about the aforementioned couple arguing about the way their future is going to unfold, the thematic scenes might have dealt with the Theme of “freedom.” If, in the opening, the first character mentioned that he wanted to sell his Chevy Silverado to buy first-class tickets to India, a COMMENTARY SCENE could deal with mapping the idea of “someone who would give something up in order to get another thing” in an absurd way (i.e. a person who sells both of their kidneys in order to buy alcohol for a party).
RETURN TO THE OPENING SCENE AGAIN (1 - 1 1/2 min): This is a quick return to the opening scene and the characters in it as a way to HEIGHTEN the stakes brought up by the Commentary scenes. In our example, perhaps the second character turns down a drink which leads her to reveal that she “might already be pregnant, Tom.” This would be a direct "pull" from the commentary scene where the man is trying to buy alcohol (while also heightening the base). This scene is technically the first scene of "THE RUN".
THE RUN: The run is an intense series of ever-shorter scenes. In THE RUN, pace is as important, if not more important, than content. Anything goes in this portion of the Deconstruction. In our above example, “Chevy Silverado“ is a TANGENT. Tangents are any trigger words from earlier scenes that made you think of something and therefore belong in the Run. They can be story arcs from the Commentary scenes, complete nonsense, it doesn't matter! As long as you consistently pick up the pace until you reach a breakneck pace it will work. Even if two players get out on stage and have nothing, someone will edit it FAST and those two can return again and look blankly at each other later in the Run and it will be funny. It will become what Miles calls "a runner". When you can't go any faster…
OPENING SCENE RETURNS/FINAL: The Opening Scene returns to wrap up the show for about 1 1/2 - 2mins. A surefire way to get a response/ending for your piece is to go back in time. If the first scene was about the couple deciding what they’d be doing with their future, here we could go back in time to the couple's third date: they’re enamored with one another, and the first character is talking about how much he wants to travel the world. Taking his hand, the second character leans in, kisses him, and says, “that sounds like exactly what I need, Tom. Whenever you’re ready to go… I’ll be right next to you with my suitcase.” This will register with the audience because they understand the juxtaposition between these characters’ expectation for their lives and where they currently are.
- Happy Time Rainbow Bunny Squad at IO West
- Happy Time Rainbow Bunny Squad at IO West
- The Deconstruction at IO West by English Speaking Moose #1
- The Deconstruction at IO West by English Speaking Moose #2
- The Deconstruction at IO West by English Speaking Moose #3
Description adapted from a post on the improv resource center forums.