Appearing on stage and being the lead in a scene is great fun but do you know what else can be as equally fun to do and actually makes a great impact on the stage but is highly underrated? Playing an extra in the background of a scene. Now you may recognise the pun I have tried to do in the title of this article it is of Reverend Lovejoys wife, Helen, that whenever anything dramatic happens in The Simpsons she will say “will somebody think of the children.” However, when I talk about the background in an improv scene I think it is a fun way to remember about it.
I think that extras in the background is one of the most underrated parts of an improv scene and it can really bring a scene or a show to life and create an extra level of depth of humor to it. You can have sooo much fun in the background being a random character, even if you come on as a walk on and do different characters or even props it can work so well.
Whenever I have done improv, I always try and think about what I can bring to the background of the scene in play. Ever so often I do tend to accidentally forget about the background because I am so wrapped up in the moment and enjoying what I am watching that it can be an easy error. OK, so not every scene needs background characters but they can be a great way to build up the location and create a depth of field. It is always important to practice as you don’t want the background characters to become the key of the scene you want them to add to it and that is important to remember.
There are many ways that you can rehearse on adding extras to a scene but today let’s take a look at a game that is a fast paced short form game where it doesn’t allow you to really think about the scene, you just have to no matter what.
This is a really fast paced short form game but it allows you and helps you to think about all the characters in the scene (even the background) which means that it is a quick and fun way to start thinking about the extras in your scenes.
In Survivor, the aim of the game is to ‘survive’ to the end without getting nominated off but before you get there a lot happens. You have to create a scene by the suggestion of the audience but every member in the team has to appear in the scene and create a character. The next time you play the scene one of you members gets nominated out and then the team that is left have to replay the scene over and over making sure every part is played until there is one person standing and they are the ‘winner.’
Take it from me, Survivor is a very energetic game and you will be exhausted by the end of it but it is also a very fun game and it knocks in the fun that you can have with extras in a scene. Whilst you don’t always need every member of your team to be in a scene, test out different ways to incorporate them into the background.
Feature photo by Atahan Demir on Pexels