Note: Here are two improvisations that follow the same pattern. A group of characters are faced with a conflict (a problem) that has two or more possible solutions. The job of the group is to narrow the choices to only one. Clearly, the teacher-director must be careful not to overload groups (if there are more than one) with too many over-powering “deciders.” Try to balance the groups in the early stages.
A. Preparation: Students are themselves but the scene has changed. They all awaken from a deep sleep to discover that they are in a totally unfamiliar place. They simply cannot recall how they got there.
Dilemma: Does the group try to adjust or to escape?
B. Preparation: All the characters
are deaf, or blind, or in some way handicapped (how convenient for introducing Laura’s limp:)
Dilemma: Does the group accept the “normal” one as its leader—or slave? Is he/she master—or outcast?
Note: Try to direct the decision making process into rather than apart from the action of the improvisation. Unconsciously, the students will be incorporating their own values, perhaps even their fears, in their decisions. A writing assignment discussing how they felt about their part in (or alienation from) the process should be very revealing.
Step Six: Cutting
Here, back-to-back cuttings are chosen because of the similar postures of the parents. Both Will and Beatrice are reacting to the loss of happier days. Their children become symbols of their present immobility, and therefore become targets for hostility. Students can work up both scenes in separate groups. They can change and rearrange lines as well as block action. They can then compare what similarities and differences they found in both motivation and presentation.