Talk:Theatre of Alienation

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A slight nitpick on the scoring - would "10 points, subtracting 1 point for each page that is not in its right place" mean that accidentally putting page 1 as page 10 (and shuffling all the others back by one position) result in a score of zero? Or would you score it as something more like "1 point for each page which correctly follows the preceding page"? --Kevan (talk) 2009-05-29 18:37:24

I have decided to fix this by abandoning any pretence at objective scoring and leaving it up to the 'critic'. --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-04 13:32:04

This was playtested at Sandpit #12 at the Soho Theatre.

Players were not outraged by the fact that there was no 'right' answer as feared. In fact most of them guessed or suspected that was the case.

I only prompted one group to actually pass round a prop letter, which resulted in a funny moment when a character was demanding the letter while holding it. I think it is definitely worth putting more of that kind of trap in.

Player suggestions: more questions at the end of pages, more missing lines (there was only one block of two lines obscured in the initial script), a props box. Have added props box to the rules.

Videos are quite funny - got verbal consent from two of the teams - will upload subject to clearance. --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-04 13:35:48

fun game :) i'd like to have had the opportunity to be fully melo-dramatic! more amusingly compromising scenes between the characters please :)

well compered :) --happyseaurchin (talk) 2009-06-04 16:14:58

Yeah, I think your being in character throughout helped with the not-being-angry thing - that you weren't using the Voice of Game Authority to say there was a right order, just the Voice of In-Character Harried Theatre Director. --Holly (talk) 2009-06-04 20:30:17

Did "no right answer" mean that it was impossible to resolve all of the contradictions in the plot, or just that - once the strict logistics of things like the letter were resolved - it didn't matter which order the other pages went in?

Abandoning all objective scoring might disappoint players at the end, if Team A took it as a puzzle game, resolved all the contradictions but weren't very good actors, while Team B were competent performers who just winged it. It'd seem fair if the critic picked up on basic contradictions in the plot, and penalised a star for "confusing short-term flashbacks" or "abstract use of props".

What other "traps" were there, out of interest? --Kevan (talk) 2009-06-04 20:44:26

Yeah, I think some score guidelines would be good, if not a definite scoring method. The critic should also do a very small write-up so the actors/players can review their work. --Peads (talk) 2009-06-05 15:55:18

It would be hilarious to have an actual critic do the evaluation --Peads (talk) 2009-06-05 15:55:43

The critic gave each performance a write-up at the Soho Sandpit. There were three games of the Theatre over the course of the evening, and reviews of all three performance were stuck up in public space at the end of the game:-

offsite image link --Kevan (talk) 2009-06-05 16:04:30

There weren't many 'traps' - different page transitions made lesser or greater degrees of sense. There was a character referring back to an 'earlier' line, but in a way that implied it might have been a discussion that had been repeated many times. There was some "meta" stuff designed to make them crack up ("The days seem disordered... shuffled") or something like that. (I should add that Holly did an amazing job writing the script at short notice when I was struggling over tone - it is 100% my fault that I didn't put more attention to adding traps).

I think the next script should definitely pose more logistical problems. Perhaps more of the page transitions should lead to absurd (but not obviously wrong) exchanges.

It might be worth the critic questioning the group afterwards and asking about any obvious logical inconsistencies - then they can earn or lose points based on how coherently they explain why "the playwright" wrote it that way.

I'm not sure if a formal points scoring system would really be necessary if the script was better-designed. I almost feel that the script should be designed so that, however they order it, they get into tricky situations, and the score should reflect how well they cover for each other, ad-lib and so on. I think that's the core of why the game is fun. Having the players order the pages is just a way to make them feel like the nonsensical script is partly their fault. --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-08 10:24:22

Oh yeah, and the 'no right answer' meant that, apart from one or two back-references and issues of who was holding the letter, most of the pages were fairly interchangeable. Again, that could be fixed if I had worked harder on the script ('fixed' in the sense that there is DEFINITELY no consistent answer). --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-08 10:27:12

Oh, I think interchangeability is a good thing. Having actually unresolvable contradictions feels a bit harsh on the players; I only caught a few minutes of the game at the Sandpit, so this might not be representative, but the "but hang on, the doctor wouldn't call a butler 'sir'..." discussions seemed pretty entertaining, and it seems a shame to lock the players into an infinite loop of "but hang on" contradictions, and deny them the "aha!" moment of finding a solution.

Did any of the teams use the train-ticket blank as a "wild card", to add dialogue of something like "Here, let me give you this letter"? --Kevan (talk) 2009-06-08 12:01:33

To be honest I didn't listen to much of the player discussion or get it on video, which was a mistake - I was too busy trying to keep the area quiet and check it wasn't going to be flooded with people halfway through a 'performance'.

Two of the teams used the blocked out line to reference a baby, referring to the doctor's "I delivered him in this house" line (which I had imagined was about the absent master of the house). --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-08 12:07:29

I've added unedited footage of a couple of the sessions to the game page. The first one is basically ruined by the background music they were playing in the studio. I am getting a friend to put together a highlights reel incorporating footage of all three games, possibly with cleaned-up audio. --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-08 12:14:02