Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution

RevolutionThe Revolution, Carleton’s newest theater group (it began in 2007), performs two shows during the ninth weekend of winter term—without anyone ever writing a line. Two of the main players of the character-driven improv group, 2008–09 student directors Annalise Lawson ’09 and Tom Weishan ’09, told us about it, off the cuff:

AL: We asked about 15 talented writers, actors, and comedians, “What do you want to see in a play at Carleton?” It often ends up being funny—someone flying, or lip-synching to Reading Rainbow, or having a fight with a chair. These ideas become our themes.

TW: We brainstorm settings and then we figure out the characters—how they might fit into our setting, and who should play them.

AL: There’s no script for any of this, no “this character says this or that,” like in a traditional play.

TW: We have a beat sheet, which is our list of scenes, and we improvise through the scenes to create the play. It’s up to each actor to do what he or she wants, based on the character, to get from A to B.

AL: The play percolates in our collective subconscious for three months.

TW: Sometimes we have to kill a scene or a character. We feel bad, but nothing really gets lost. Because of our process, it just goes into the stew that we can draw from. About three or four weeks before the show goes up, we try to impose some organizational structure by sketching it out roughly.

AL: [During performances], the actors who aren’t onstage are watching on the sidelines, because you never know what’s going to happen.

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