In this scene two plaeyrs will be assigned different statuses. At some point in the scene they must switch their statuses.
Status Transfer is both a handle and an exercise. The structure discussed here is the exercise that is laid over an open scene. The leader should set up one player as high status and the other player as low status
The two characters create an open scene with a narrative arc. At some point during the story the characters will find a mechanism to transfer the statuses between each other. So the low status character will become high status and the high status character will become low status. This transfer is strongest when it arises from the narrative. There are many kinds of narrative tools. Learn Improv uses the narrative tool STEPS.
Low status characters are imbued with particular qualities. Learn Improv recommends using the trinity (move, sound, want) of the character. Low status characters are associated with low status movements. They may have a gait that is slow and cautious. Their hand movements are protective and stay close to their body. Their gaze may avoid the eyes of others, and may even look downwards. They avoid physical contact. They have a posture that hides them. Low status characters do not have loud boisterous voices. They may even be hard to hear. They choose cautious words that do not impose or direct. Low status characters have simple wants. The character may want to tie their shoes, have a look out a window, or wash some cups.
Low status characters are NOT victims. Low status characters are not identifiable genders, or cultures with a history of being low status or kept down. Low status characters do not have lisps, or stutters, or limps. Improv comedy uses a lot of short cuts to create characters. Beware of punching down.
High status characters are also imbued with particular qualities from the trinity (move, sound, want) of the character. High status characters have excellent posture. They use wide and open physical gestures. Their status allows them to be heard clearly. They may even be loud. The wants of a high status character can be grand, self actualizing or even self serving.
High status characters are NOT assholes. High status can represent an undeserved position of power, or plain old self confidence. High status characters need not have occupations that reflect power.
- Emotion Transfer – Performers exchange the emotions of their characters.
- Up and Down – The status transfer can flip back and forth a few times in the scene.
- Command Transfer – the leader calls switch and the characters must rapidly switch status within the narrative.