Rotary is an improvised podcast and longform improv format that primarily features phone calls between characters. In its podcast form, Rotary features sound effects and often music added in post production.
The Rotary improv format was conceived in March 2020 by Katy Meeks, and was developed by Katy Meeks, Zander Frost, Andy Barrett, Adler Davidson, Bobby McCosky, and Rosie Caruth. It takes inspiration from the La Ronde, Slacker, Macroscene, and Harold.
The form has three phases:
Phase one: Core Scenes
The first and core section of the form consists primarily of phone calls between characters. Scenes in this section typically last between one and three minutes, and are edited when a character receives another phone call. The character that receives the phone call hangs up and answers the incoming call.
Scenes may also be edited by door knocks, walk ons, or any move that allows the show to continue in real-time (no time jumps).
Phase two: The Pile On
At around 17:00, the group begins to look for an opportunity to rapid fire call one character. This section lasts for around three minutes and acts as a bridge and energy spike between phases two and three.
Phase three: The Run
Phase three begins when someone offers a “cut to” or a scene painted edit (such as “we zoom out”). This is typically the first “hard” edit, and the first time the form skips in time. From this point on, the show mostly or entirely stops focusing on phone calls.
The run typically uses an organically found thematic or narrative device to callback characters, details, and ideas. An example of a thematic device is scrolling through apps on a phone. An example of a narrative device is a hero’s journey of one character from the show.
This section usually features heavy usage of scene painting.
Recording and Production
Rotary is improvised entirely using Zoom video calls. To ensure high quality audio, each performer records independently on their own devices with studio microphones. The audio files for each performer are synced in post production. Sound effects and music is also added in post.
Cast and Crew
- Katy Meeks - performer, creator
- Andy Barrett - performer, audio producer
- Rotary began rehearsing in March 2020, but did not begin recording episodes until the following September
- Laughs are removed in post production on all episodes except for episode one.