“What goes around, goes around, goes around, comes all the way back around.” – J.T.
La Ronde is an exercise developed at improv Olympic, which evolved into a longform format. It’s named after a play by Arthur Schnitzler, in which one character enters the scene and beds another. That character moves on and beds another, and so on, until the final character beds the first character from the first scene. The improv version doesn’t involve quite as much sex (at least during rehearsal).
It works like this:
A and B do a scene together.
A exits or is tagged out, and B and C do a scene together.
B exits or is tagged out, and C and D do a scene.
This continues until everyone has played the same character twice, when A returns to play with the last character.
The idea is to explore different facets of each character. For instance, if A and B are high-powered megalomaniac brokers, when we see B with C, maybe C is his wife and we find out that B is actually meek and low status at home.
Like any long format, we want to see characters at Work, Home, and Play. While we’ll only see two situations for each character, keep these environments in mind when you’re stepping in.
Even with eight team members, a La Ronde plays out faster than a normal longform set. If you want to use it as a stage format, treat the La Ronde like an opening and use it to establish your characters. Once you’ve played through the complete circuit, you can reintroduce the same characters in different groupings and situations.