The 411: The La Ronde Format

When devising a piece of theatre from scratch, it’s often difficult to think of an interesting plot with interesting characters. Sitting down staring at a computer screen can be limiting to the kind of stories one can create.

The La Ronde Format is one such way that a theatre maker or a group of theatre makers can use to develop interesting characters and an interesting story. The La Ronde Format is an improvisation-devising exercise that works like a game of tag.

Two actors perform a scene as their respective characters in a specific setting. As the scene progresses, another actor tags in as another character while the remaining actor remains as the character. As such, the situation of the scene changes and the cycle repeats as the remaining actor is swapped out with another until the cycle completes. 

The La Ronde Format

Actor 1 & Actor 2 (exit actor 1)

Actor 2 & Actor 3 (exit actor 2)

Actor 3 & Actor 4 (exit actor 3)

Actor 4 & Actor 5 (exit actor 4)

Actor 5 & Actor 1 (exit actor 5)

The La Ronde format is beneficial for the director or theatre maker as it allows for the exploration of different situations where characters can be placed in. A slew of characters can be played as well and with other types of characters as well, leading to the possibility of creating interesting scenarios. The director can observe these scenes and find that they can be a foundation of a play or even integrated into one. As mentioned before, it can even be used in the long form. For example, using the La Ronde Format in the prologue of the play allows for the characters to be introduced to the audience. After completing the cycle, the characters can be introduced into new groupings and situations in the play.

For the actor, the La Ronde Format allows for character exploration and development. By maintaining character while reacting to the different situations and people in the scene, the actor is able to make a swathe of choices that develops more interesting characters. The actors also practice their improvisation skills, as they respond to and generate stimuli to progress the scene further. Not only that, conducting this exercise often improves chemistry between members of an ensemble as they continue working together in the scenes.

The La Ronde format allows participants to discover new possibilities in telling a story. Not only that, it makes the process of theatre making a whole lot of fun for everyone involved.

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