The exploding dinosaur pillow fight

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The Exploding Dinosaur Pillow Fight is a longform improvised form developed via collaboration between Lou Lasher and the team Mandudebro. The form has 2 sections.

The first section is the Exploding Dinosaur part, made up of 3 medium length or longer scenes. The team asks for 2 suggestions along the lines of words of advice someone gave you, words to live by, compliments given or received, a song lyric, a line from a movie-- any 2 things along those lines. The first scene starts with those lines as the first 2 lines spoken in the scene. The second scene also starts with the same two lines of dialog, but said in different ways and then proceeds in its own way independent of the first scene. The third scene starts with 2 potentially unrelated lines that came out of either of the previous scenes, and progresses to a return to the original initiations/suggestions. The idea is that the 2 lines of dialog and their subsequent repetitions represent moments that can exist between any 2 people, as points in the geometric sense where any number of lives and relationships can intersect, each with their own trajectory, origins and destinations.

The Pillow Fight section is essentially the Run section of the Deconstruction where anything that comes up in the 3 scenes can be quickly explored or revisited or played with in any way. The aim though is to play fast and gamey scenes quickly.

The form can close with a scene that returns to the suggestions.

Origin

It was born out of the effort to create a kind of Deconstruction that was well suited to a 4 person team and to fit the way Mandudebro plays. The form is easily adapted for teams of various sizes. It debuted April 20th, 2013, at Artsquest Center which is part of the Steel Stacks campus in Bethlehem, PA.

Principles

Several important improv principles are built into the structure of The Exploding Dinosaur Pillow Fight. For instance:

  • Less is more: rather than generate a lot of material to then find ways to use, the form starts organically with two scenes that essentially use the same starting point. The form then shows how that starting point can make for a lot of interesting differences in scenes that, together with the 3rd scene, also generate enough material for the whole set.
  • The end is in the beginning: the 3rd scene of the form shows the initiation as point in a relationship to be arrived at, not as starting point.
  • The two sections represent the 2 sides of the creative process: the discovery of many new ideas once the creative process is started is found in the Exploding Dinosaur section; and the convergence on the finished piece once the material is explored and what the piece is meant to be reveals itself to the players in the Pillow Fight section. The Convergent Scene ends as the transition to the Pillow Fight section..
  • The element of Tempo is a big part of the form because one of the ideas of the from is to marry slow patient grounded scene work with fast paced fun scenes.

Structure

The Exploding Dinosaur Pillow Fight as currently played is typically anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes long. The structure can be broken down in following way:

  • The Exploding Dinosaur” part consists of
  • 2 Source Scenes'” and
  • the 3rd scene/The Convergent Scene
  • The Pillow Fight part consists of
  • The Run and
  • A second quicker convergent scene

Exploding Dinosaur

1st and 2nd Source Scenes

The form starts with a source scene using the 2 suggestions as the starting point. The scene should be able to stand on its own as an entertaining and compelling scene as well as provide material to be brought back both in the Run and in the Convergent scene-- it's not an opening. The 2nd source scene starts with 2 new characters saying the same initial lines of dialog, but the performers are encouraged to find different meanings for the lines and to express those different meanings through any and all means available: different gestures, different tone of voice, anything that contributes to a different stage picture. The point is to start in a very different way from the first scene even though they start with the same lines of dialog, setting up a unique scene as a contrast to the first scene.

the 3rd scene/The Convergent Scene

Following the 2 Source Scenes is a scene were the players pull their initial lines of dialog from the either of the previous scenes, as well as a gesture or anything physical. The players have the audience suggested initiations as goals to get towards to end the scene. The scene is still part of the Exploding Dinosaur section, but as it ends, it signals the transition to the Pillow Fight section.

Pillow Fight

The Run

Following the third scene, the players run through a series of fast scenes meant to bring back anything from the previous scenes. The scenes should be quick and gamey, and things that make for good “blackout” scenes are all in play here. The point is for the players in the Pillow Fight to hit each other with anything inspired from the Exploding Dinosaur section and to contrast the patient and grounded scene of the Exploding Dinosaur with much faster pacing and style of play that gets right to the funny instead of creating fully fleshed out characters and environments, trusting each others' comedic instincts and quick edits.

A second quicker convergent scene

The form ends when the energy and the material used in the Run are used up, and a scene is started for the purpose of providing a button for the set, by converging back on the suggestions. The Scene might be renamed The Extinction. You know. Because of the Dinosaur thing. Right?

Related Forms

The form is related to and inspired by the * Deconstruction Another related form is the * [{Spokane}] which mixes tempos Other related forms are *[{Detours}] and *[{The Cascade}]