Rotary is an improvised podcast and longform improv format that primarily features phone calls between characters. The format is also known as the "Telephone". Rotary was created by Katy Meeks and is directed/coached by Zander Frost. It stars Katy Meeks, Andy Barrett, Adler Davidson, Bobby McCosky, and Rosie Caruth.
The Rotary improv format was initially conceived in March 2020 by Katy Meeks, and was developed further 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. It lasts around 25-30 minutes and begins organically with a single world suggestion.
Before it was fully developed, the original format simply followed a chain of phone calls in the pattern of a La Ronde.
Phase one: Core Scenes
The first and core section of the Rotary form consists primarily of phone calls between characters. Scenes in this section typically last between two and three minutes, and are usually edited by one of the characters receiving an incoming call. Calls are made by another member of the team saying "ring ring [player's] phone." The character receiving the 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). Stylistically, most scenes in this phase have their own distinct game of the scene; a voice of reason in one scene may become the absurd character in the next scene and vice versa.
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 one 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 can skip in time. From this point on, the show mostly or entirely stops focusing on phone calls.
The Run is essentially an extended and continuous third beat that lasts around 5-10 minutes. In the run, the group looks for a thematic or narrative device to call back characters, details, and ideas. An example of a thematic device is following a baseball across town as it flies past characters from earlier in the form. An example of a narrative device is a hero’s journey of one character from the show. The Run can also take place at an event that was alluded to earlier in the piece.
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
- Adler Davidson - performer
- Bobby McCosky - performer
- Rosie Caruth - performer
- 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.