We had the pleasure of taking an Evente workshop with Alan Starsinki from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. The Evente was a form created by Armando Diaz with the Harold team Respecto Montalbon in the Wild West days of improv – the New York scene in the late 90s. We’re planning on trying one out at the next Hoopla Crashpad so we thought we’d outline the basics of the form if you wanted to give it a go.
Rob Huebel of Respecto and Human Giant says of the aim of the Evente
I think we wanted to do something totally different, something that you could tell a story with. I think that telling a story was really appealing to us. That was the big thing to us, telling a really cool story. And playing multiple characters, and also mess with the concept of time. We would go forward, move backwards in time, and use neat tricks in the telling of that story.
The Evente starts with an opening scene which is an Event. It doesn’t have to be “the time when we diffused a bomb” but it should be “the time when”. You can start with a suggestion of an Event or just a single word but it’s important in the opening lines to really nail what the event is.
“There sure are a lot of waiters at this funeral“
“Finally! We made it to prom!”
“I dunno I think this year’s office Christmas party is fun”.
Or something more elegant. It doesn’t matter. Just clue people in on what’s happening. This is a 3 minute scene, where everyone will be involved in some way big of small. This is the opening and just like all openings it’s to generate ideas. The Evente works off character games so nice clearly defined characters with a strong point of view that you want to go back to. All the players in the opening scene, whilst following the basic rules of group scene work, should also try to state what their deal is – which can be as simple as “I like avocado“.
Once the scene is over we sweep edit (1/2)
Now the fun part. We visit all the characters before the event described, exploring the world that we’ve laid out in the opening scene, “namely if this is true … what less is true?”. This is the meat of the Evente sandwich and involves a lot of flashbacks with all the characters we visited in the opening scene. If you’re familiar with the Harold structure these will involve heightening character games using Time Dashes rather than analogous moves. However this isn’t “plot driven” but character driven – think where else would it be fun to take this amazing “I like avocado“ character, rather than simply cutting to the time when his dad came home saying “guess what’s for dinner today?”
Rather than sweeps, we fade edit, with a strong initiation, pulling focus from a scene that’s already going and drawing another character into a new scene. If you can, make direct eye contact to signal you want them in the scene.
What do you mean guacamole’s an impure devil food?
A clear sign that we want to start a scene with avocado man. It’s best to start a scene with a character game you didn’t initiate, as it’s always good to build off other players’ ideas. You can explore character games in the same scene or through a series of tag outs. Live in their world. Once you’ve explored everyone’s character games to the fullest it’s time for another sweep edit (2/2)
The second sweep edit is a signal to return to your opening scene and attempting to replay it using the specifics of the characters we discover in the “Evente Meat” to play heightened fully realised characters.
There sure are a lot of waiters at this funeral. They’d better have avocado.
Why not check out an Evente in the clip below.
The Evente can be a tricky form to master, but it’s great to watch and a really useful way to play character games. But as with all show advice, Billy Merrit’s quote is always a useful reminder.
Suggestion is opening, opening is form. Form is not form.
In the end, the audience doesn’t know what the structure is. They just want to see a story. So, it’s good to keep it simple. It’s going to help keep things straight in your own mind, if you can keep it simple.
There are many different ways to perform the Evente – here’s how they break it down at the Magnet (Armando Diaz’s wonderful theatre in New York).