How I think about short form

I really enjoyed performing short form for many years, and I still love watching it when it is compelling. I would say the same about long form -- anything can be done well or poorly and anything can be performed for entertainment, art, comedy or theater.

So how do I think about short form? Not much differently than long form actually. Many people do look at it differently. Because the games change every 5 minutes, they think, "We better have scenes that get there faster and get more laughs per minute." In truth, many long forms (aka Harold) typically have scenes shorter than 5 minutes. And in long form we encourage players to know their want / what their scene is about within the first few lines. So how much faster could you get to the point? Further, the audience typically does not know or care to know the difference. So why should we treat them so differently? As long as our scenework is compelling, they won’t care how we get from point A to B.

What practical affect does that have on my approach? I look at short form games/constraints as an opportunity to push my in a way I wouldn’t normally play. I mean that both in a larger sense (my work during some period) and a narrow one (this specific scene).

Let’s say I’m working with a group that tends to be very talky. We might think of some games or workshop some games to address this. For example, we might play Film Dub/Dub Scene*. Often when I see this game, there are a lot of jokes at the expense of the mechanism: a long line of gibberish turned into a short line of dialog or vice-versa, someone going against the intention of the player, etc. For this team, I would focus it differently. I’d think of it as an opportunity to focus on one thing at a time. If I’m acting in the scene I would think entirely on that: acting. How can I use blocking to help tell a story. Use my movement to create physical space where there is emotional distance. Listen to the dialog and punctuate beats with changes in movement. Initiate movement or space work as gifts to my dubber. And the same goes for dialog. I can just focus on dialog -- on creating natural lines that are begged for by what it happening on stage.

This to me is a fun way to play. And I kind of fun I don’t get to have a lot on stage in long form.

*a game in which 2-3 players do a scene in gibberish and 2-3 players stand off stage “dubbing” the dialog.