Diving Bell. Closet.
This is an exercise focusing on setting and ties.
The leader can mark out the staging of the elevator with a articles of clothing or some other safe marker. Marking the parameters of the elevator is helpful for beginning players.
In simplest terms a player will call an elevator and wait for the doors to open. Once they are settled on the elevator other players will get on the elevator and create characters that may or may not interact. Characters will exit and enter the elevator as their floors arrive.
Character elements are strong with this exercise. Encourage players to create a character that is distinctive in movement, sound and want. The character should interact with their environment as well as other characters on the elevator. For example, how does the character push the call button? How to they interact with the elevator doors? How do they stand while waiting for the car? The character’s interaction with the environment is an opportunity to demonstrate character traits. These traits are offers that players on the elevator can use to inform how their characters will interact.
Once on the elevator the players can interact how they see fit. Small talk, awkward silence. Fall in love. The characters can form brief alliances, alienating one character. Eventually characters will reach their floor and exit the elevator. Encourage the player to stay in character until off the stage (not just out of the elevator).
Players should listen to the characters that are already in the scene. The leader can encourage players to create complementary characters. A complementary character is one that informed by the character already present. For example, if an existing characters appears extroverted and loud a complementary character could be quiet and shy. Could the complementary character also be boisterous and loud? Of course.
There is a tendency for beginning players to have over the top characters that are scary, loud, or invasive. This is a good instinct to create tension within the confine of the enclosed space. However, it is also a good opportunity to explore more subtle characters and letting the comedy happen by accident.
Environment elements are strong in this exercise. Players can use the Elevator exercise to work on listening to the environment set up by the first player. Encourage the players to have the call button in the same location of the stage. The elevator the floor buttons should be in the same location. The doors of the elevator open at the same speed, and have the same opening size. This is an exercise to have players practise environment work. Remember that getting the mime environment correct is a goal not a rule.
The Elevator exercise is a bit of a challenge to improv stagecraft canon. At some point the players will have their backs to the audience. Elevator acts as an opportunity to learn cheating one’s body to the audience.
- Elevator malfunctions.
- Very small elevator.
- Elevator changes shape at will.
- Hitch hiker – takes place in a car.
- Copy Cat – all players take on same character as just entered.