Transformation

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A transformation is an improvisational edit employed in organic improv shows.

Description

The transformation edit takes an existing scene and converts it organically into another scene. This often manifests as an abstract sound-and-movement transition that eventually finds itself in a more realistic place. Transformation edits are typically handled by the entire ensemble: everyone in the group will enter and explore the sound and movement transition together. They are often initiated by one improviser (onstage or off-) repeating the last line and movement that occurred in a scene.

Cheesy made-up example

Two improvisers have come to the end of their scene, let's say its set on a beach.

  • Improviser A: You saved my life.
  • Improviser B: They call me a lifeguard, don't they?
  • Improviser A (with a cheery thumbs up gesture): They sure do.

An offstage improviser then enters, repeating "They sure do" while heightening the tone and gesture that originally accompanied it. The rest of the ensemble joins in, and this sound and movement transforms.

  • All:They sure do. (thumbs up and down)
  • All:They SURE do. (arms extended up and down)
  • All:They SURE do! (arms extended up and fingers flowing)
  • All:They suuuuuuuure do! (jumping with arms up)
  • All:They shhhhh... (jumping to grab something)

Improviser C then has an idea for a scene from this and initiates with dialogue. All who won't be in the scene exit.

  • Improviser C: Dammit! (jumping and reaching)
  • Improviser D: You need some help there?
  • Improviser C: Yes, thank you. I can't reach that soda bottle on the top shelf.

They are now in a new scene.

Real Example

Former PIT house team Borealis made almost exclusive use of transformation edits. In one show, when a character was crying, Keith Huang walked onstage and "pulled" a teardrop out of the air. He then pantomimed exploding it, expanding it to the size of the stage and indicating that a rainstorm was occurring. After heightening and altering this abstract choice, the ensemble found themselves on an airplane caught in the turbulence of a thunderstorm.

Notable use

The following ensembles/shows made use of organic transformation edits.

See also