Detours

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Detours is a form that examines all the possible ways that a single, short scene could have gone but didn't. The players perform a starting scene, lasting two to five minutes, and then perform variations on the original scene.

The form was originally developed by People of Earth in Chicago. It was taught to Theatre Strike Force, an improv group in Gainesville, Florida, in a workshop. Two graduates of this group - Boris Glebov and Desika "Nopey" Narayanan - transported it to the Tucson improv scene when they moved there for grad school.

Structure

After taking a suggestion, the group performs a medium-length scene, perhaps two to five minutes in length. It is usually a two-person scene which evolves through several beats. Once this original scene wraps up, the group then begins performing the scene again. However, as perfect repetition is impossible, mistakes will happen, and the original scene will change. Detours basically takes advantage of this, exploring mistakes, or even making changes intentionally.

The original scene is usually not repeated in its entirety, but rather each beat is examined and re-done separately, in order. This way, the group slowly makes its way through the original story, varying every possible detail but keeping the overall, general direction.

Usually tag-out and sweep edits are used. Tag-outs are meant to restart the immediate line of dialogue or action (similar to how New Choice is played). Sweep edits reset the action to the beginning of a beat.

The pace of the form's action frequently varies. As the scene progresses, the group will often come upon a detail that has many possible alternatives. A rapid succession of tag-out edits will follow, where many possibilities are offered.

People that played in the original scene are not limited to their original characters. To keep things clear, it helps to assume the physical location where the character one wishes to play is expected to be. For example, if character Abe started on scene right, then if a player wishes to play Abe, they should assume position on scene right after a sweep edit.