La Ronde is a character-based improv structure, used as both an exercise and a longform.
The form works like a circle of two person scenes typically. Let's say you are going to have five players to a La Ronde, Mike, Tara, Julie, Steve and Jed. And let's also say that Tara and Jed start the first scene. The scenes would look like this:
- Tara & Jed
- Jed & Steve
- Steve & Julie
- Julie & Mike
- Mike & Tara
Each scene gets edited by one player replacing another. The person who remains on stage remains the character they were in the previous scene and the new player chooses a new character to play and a new location and situation for the scene. In a simple La Ronde like this, each player plays one character and only one character.
La Ronde takes its name from an 1897 play of the same name by the German playwright Arthur Schnitzler. All ten scenes of his play only feature two actors, each individual actor appearing in two scenes in a row. From Wikipedia, these scenes consist of the following character pairs:
- The Whore and the Soldier
- The Soldier and the Parlor Maid
- The Parlor Maid and the Young Gentleman
- The Young Gentleman and the Young Wife
- The Young Wife and The Husband
- The Husband and the Little Miss
- The Little Miss and the Poet
- The Poet and the Actress
- The Actress and the Count
- The Count and the Whore
First used by Craig Cackowski after he watched the film version of this play. He brought the structure into Frank Booth rehearsals in the mid 1990s and they used it as a rehearsal exercises for over a year. Later it provided the backbone for Calendar Girls and a show by Cinco de Bob. Craig talks about it in episode 14 of the IRC Podcast. http://podcast.improvresourcecenter.com/?p=episode&name=2010-11-16_irc_podcast_craig_cackowski.mp3
Also used by Miles Stroth during a class in which he was teaching story structure. The class eventually used the exercise as a performance form and named it La Ronde. In the original exercise, players would form a back line and two-person scenes would happen, each player being only one character during the entire exercise. Then every other person was tagged out and new characters were created until everyone from the back line did two scenes. Then everyone would go to the sides of the stage and would continue with no order, while still only playing the one character each. They would all be different characters in one similar location (i.e. a Town) and would work their way to an event that was happening in that location (i.e. a Pie Eating Contest).