From TPRS in a Year! –
Skill #41: The En Route Event
When an actor is transitioning from one location to another, funny things can happen:
Class, Cinderella is going through the forest. Does she go by automatic toilet or by toad, class? That’s right, class, she goes by toad! C’est évident!. …… Class, a big gorilla crosses her path!
At this point you ask a student to roll a basketball across the room in front of Cinderella to represent the gorilla. But, before going to the next idea, detail the appearance of the gorilla/basketball. Soon we have a big white gorilla with an absurdly large nose with three nostrils in a bad mood because it’s Monday.
So the gorilla is an unexpected event, an “En Route Event”, which only occurs between locations.
When the gorilla crosses the path, ask the class how the actor responds to this event:
Class, is Cinderella afraid or is she happy? That’s right, class, Cinderella is afraid, etc. etc. ….
At this point, at any point in a story really, you have the option to create a dialogue or monologue based on the scene. It is a good idea to always keep in mind, when you think of how you structure, the great value of dialogues in stories as described in skill 21 above.
So, recognizing the gorilla crossing Cinderella’s path as an opportunity for dialogue, instead of going on with the story and missing the chance, you ask Cinderella:
Cinderella, are you afraid? Cinderella says, Yes, I am afraid.
Cinderella, tell the gorilla!
If the actor balks, you always have the Susie Gross “jump-in-behind-the-actor” option to say the words for the actor, who lip synchs them. However, a good actor will jump on the chance they have, milking it for laughs, as long as you make your sentences simple enough. When they do so, remember to heap the praise on not just for the language but also for the acting. Cinderella says:
Big gorilla, I am afraid!
Next, give the gorilla a voice. What does the gorilla say? Does it growl? Does it insult Cinderella? How does it respond to Cinderella’s expression of fear? A possibility:
I scare people!
You could develop this dialogue or leave it alone, depending on the energy. One option amidst dialogue is to ask one or both of the characters to speak their internal dialogue in monologue form. What are they thinking?
I scare you? Really? I am happy! Grr!
Cinderella next could speak her thoughts:
Oh! There is a big gorilla growling at me at 7:10 a.m. in the forest and I have been walking for a very long time. I am afraid! What should I do…etc. Of course she does this with lots of help from you….
If you have the discipline to stay on a scene longer, without rushing through, you can bring the class in:
Class, are you afraid or is Cinderella afraid?
They answer:? They can do that in the Toy Story 2 alien voices of the little green martians:
Nous n’avons pas peur. Le grand gorille blanc nous protège!
(We are not afraid. The big white gorilla protects us!)
The En Route Event is really just an excuse to set up different verbal points of view very nicely through dialogue/monologue. In each moment of an ‘En Route Event’ can be found an opportunity for dialogue in various points of view, as well as humor. All we have to do is slow down and expand the dialogue.
Moving into various points of view is difficult, and should never be forced, but the En Route Event allows ample opportunity for practice in this crucial area. Truly, some of the best moments in stories happen when you stop the story and encourage the actors to briefly speak to one another.