The Scramble is a longform improvisational format that features overlapping scenes and chaos on stage. The Scramble is confusing and chaotic. Improvisers are encouraged to stir up disorder on stage. Improvisers are encouraged to embrace the confusion and understand that they cannot understand everything that is happening on stage. The Scramble is up for the audience to interpret and absorb.
The show may or may not start with an opening and typically begins with a solo start. From there, improvisers may use several techniques to create a world of overlapping scenes.
There are at least six techniques used in the Scramble:
- Solo Starts: One player makes a big physical and emotional choice on stage. Interacting with an invisible character that is in the scene. Improvisers should leave some space for lines to land with that other character and to react to what that invisible character is saying in response.
- Overlap Edits: Someone initiates a solo start on top of the scene (or scenes) that are already inhabited and taking place on stage. Overlap Edits lead to stacked scenes.
- Stacked Scenes: Stacked scenes are when there is more than one scene taking place at the same time on stage aka multiple scenes on top of each other/using the same space on stage. Stacked scenes are a great way to playfully violate the location/object work reality of other scenes. It’s really helpful for each scene (while they’re stacked) has their own specific vibe, energy, tone, etc. so as to get contrasts in scenes going on (which will add some texture to what’s going on).
- Bolts: To bolt means to definitively leave a scene (by breaking eye contact and leaving with intent) as the performer, while understanding that the character that was inhabited by that performer, is still in that scene. This is a great way to leave a scene in the hands of the other performer(s) in the scene, especially if the emotion has gotten so high that (in the reality of that scene) it becomes helpful to bolt out of the scene so that the remaining performer can take things into a big physical interaction (fighting, sex, etc.) with the invisible character that remains.
- Swinging Gates: A swinging gate is when someone uses bolts to swing between one scene and another, eventually switching back. While this means switching amongst and being in multiple scenes, be in and fully commit to the scene that an improviser is currently in — instead of being in one scene while trying to keep track of what’s going on in any other scene. Improvisers trust that when they jump into a scene, they reaction to the next thing done or said by the other person in that scene will light their way in that scene.
- Chair Pimps: This is when someone places a chair (or two, or three, etc.) somewhere on stage. That means that at some point in the future, there will be a scene that incorporates that chair.