Tutorial Tuesday: Subtext

June 15, 2015

Subtext is content under the dialogue or words spoken. Conflict, anger, competition, pride, showing off, or other implicit ideas and emotions are just some subtext one might encounter. Subtext is also the unspoken thoughts and motives of characters—what they really think and believe.

Subtext can indeed be used when playing relationship based game driven improv utilizing TOTS (the triangle of the scene).

Here are two examples.

Example One:
Player 1 says to Player 2  “You sure are angry!” and Player 2 fires back (angrily) “Angry? Who’s angry?”

Player 2 is “Yes anding” by SHOWING she IS angry even though she SAYS she NOT angry.

This example also reinforces Have/Say/Do. What does the character HAVE. What does the character SAY and what does the character DO.

Example Two:
A more subtle version of subtext

Player 1 says to player 2 “You’re angry!” player 2 says calmly “Angry? Who’s angry? I’m just standing here cutting up all your clothes.” The player is SHOWING anger and using subtext.

One of the strongest ways to show subtext is the third piece of our triangle in TOTS. Remember it’s your game, my game, and the activity/location that makes up the triangle. The activity/location is also the “where” (also referred to as an environment) and using this often and strategically helps the performer use subtext.

Subtext is the culmination of many techniques being used at once. Subtext also reinforces the idea that everything in the scene is there to demonstrate our games and our relationships on stage!




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