By | August 2, 2010




Please organize into two columns facing forward.


The player at the front of the right column steps forward. The player at the front of the left column steps forward and looks away from her. The left column player begins a repetitive action that uses at least three limbs. The leader should encourage a repetitive action that is not identifiable. For example, shoveling or ladder climbing.

Once the left column player has established their repetitive action the right column player swings around to look. While turning the player calls out a tie between the two players. For example, “honey I need help with the garbage.” The leader should encourage the player to loudly call out the relationship before she can see the repetitive action.

This is the crux of Rope. An unseen player repeating a wild action is endowed with a relationship. The player doing the repetitive action must now justify the relationship and the physical actions. The response is immediate and brief.

Rope looks like this:

  1. Player on right flailing wildly. Player on left facing away.
  2. Player on left starts turning and says “honey I need help with the garbage”
  3. Player on the left is now facing the player on the right.
  4. Player on the right now justifies the relationship and actions “I am picking these pixies out of the air for recycling.”

Rope is a commitment exercise.

The repetitive activity The player who has turned away cannot see this repetitive action. Before turning around to look, the player on the right endows the player making the repetitive motions with some role (profession, person, relationship). The job of the player on the left (the wiggly one) is to justify their activity in the context of what character they were endowed with. It goes something like this. The player on the right turns away so she cannot see the player on the left. The player on the left begins to pump her legs and ring circles around her head. The player on the right makes her offer and endows the player on the right, “Constable Flaherty the gnomes are on the grass again” The player on the left, who is pumping her legs and ringing circles around her head, must justify what she is doing within the context of her character. Her reply is, “I am tracking them with my radar officer Corkley.” The exercise is good for getting players away from planning and driving scenes. It also helps work on strong commitment to something that is obvious completely wrong. Both players return to the back of the line that they were not in. Once everyone has tried both endowing and justifying the exercise is done.




  • Competitve – Players in the column yell “rope” if they feel the action player did not respond fast enough. Getting roped eliminates the player and new player takes that role.
  • Rope is a variation where the main goals are learning commitment, and being fearless on stage. The remainder of the workshoppers decide if they liked the justification or not. If not they all scream rope and are generally abusive. The player getting harassed must step forward and bow to the crowd, not being concerned at all with the abuse they are receiving. If the player flinches in any way she must immediately repeat the exercise. This version is not for the faint of heart.


Gary Austin, Groundlings