Eggshell History and Process
After several years of improv experience, some of the members of The Let's Try This Players thought about creating a fully dramatic one hour show. Several notions were looked at and options were explored. These initial notions never came to fruition, but the seed was planted. In the Spring of 1995, Stuart Pieloch and Je77 Rick came up with the concept of using improv techniques to write a play, which would then be performed by the writers. The project was under way. A performance space and budget was gotten. Auditions were held. In the spirit that everyone can contribute and the play can adapt to any character number, everyone was cast (Improvisors and Improv Novices).
The name "Eggshell" was created at about the time of auditions. The director's needed a name to advertise auditions with; "Eggshell#1" just seemed right. The name stuck.
What Methods were Used?
The concept was so new that several ways needed to be tried out. First, scene improvisations guided by the directors were done. This came up with some good ideas, but the play had no direction yet; so a meeting was held where we brain-stormed an idea for the play. After that, the play started really moving. The play was split up so that individual people were responsible for individual scenes. The directors helped out those who were not as comfortable with writing. Then, more improvisation was done with those scenes and more was written. The script changed constantly. Finally, about a week before opening night, the script was finished. It had all come together very well.
Some Key Points
- Establish a pattern for the plot at the first rehearsals. Inexperienced writers need to have some concept to write towards. Inexperienced improvisors need to have some concept to improvise towards. This pattern should be come up with (or at least discussed) as a group.
- Cast everyone. It's more fun that way. Some people pulled out brilliant performances which one would have never guessed from their audition. Also, remember that people who are not reliable to show up at rehearsal will just have smaller parts.
- Establish a set of guidelines for the script early. Some good ones to have are:
- No uncomfortable humor (such as sex jokes, etc.)
- Each person is responsible for a certain scene or these ensemble scenes will be improvised on these days.
- No "joke-of-the-moment" humor. This means no joking about say Tonya Harding. This type of humor makes the play be dead fairly soon when people have forgotten about Tonya. Also, it's a cheap joke. (Note: this restriction was made in Fowl Play, but not in Eggshell #1)
- Most Importantly: It is the director's job to guide and not to command. This tip is often forgotten in a time pressured situation. The director needs to try to maintain this.