Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Randomized Structure of "Bombs, Babes and Bingo:" Story and Character Arc Fluctuation


What is the effect of a randomized structure on the Story Arc and the Character arc in BB&B?


· The last scene before the end will be very important to the message of the play.

· G46 and G57’s locations will be very important to the story arc.

· If there are multiple climactic scenes in the first few scenes of the play, the play won’t work.

· The story will tend to arc naturally, with our expectations.

· All scenes will change tension depending on their order.

· The characters will be more important than order in creating climax


In order to test the play’s Story and Character Arcs the lab director and playwright created a scene-by-scene synopsis of events and a scene-by scene character perspective. The group will use these to graphically chart the dramatic tension (on scale of 0-10) for each scene, ten being the highest tension. To avoid swaying of the group by an individual, a card system will be used to limit discussion. The average score will be recoded as that scenes “Tension”.

In the case of story arc we will be constantly be using the major dramatic question, “What is Dennis’ acceptable loss?” as the guide post for judging tension. The more obstacles and conflict in a scene the more tension is created. In the case of the character arcs we will use the character’s personal stakes to guide their dramatic tension. Each scene will be rated for story and character tension before moving on to the next scene.

The lab artists first will create a control story arc by using the linear order of the events in Dennis’ life. All other trials will be picked in a random order from a bag. After each we will look at the results of that trail and then compare it to all previous results and the control.


The story arc in general looked compelling as it had a range of dramatic tension that fell similarly to the “well made play”. However the group thought the linear revealed details of character and action that made this not as compelling as trying to put the pieces together. B3 was very effective as the final random scene, creating a since of tension going into the conclusion.

Dennis’s character arc bounced between extremes of tension though out the play. Ellen’s character had the most consistent dramatic tension and the highest. Few of her scenes allow her to not be in conflict or facing obstacles. Hannah’s dramatic tension steadily grows as she moves into adult hood. The dark girl tends to live in the in the highest reaches of tension or the lowest.

G46, G57, B3, and N42 all had the highest story and character tension.

N33, 066, and I21 had the lowest story tension.

N33 and B6 had a disparity of high Character tension to low story tension. This might imply these are character driven scenes.

Trail #1:

The story arc here starts with several high peaks, falls at the half waypoint, and has a sharp climax.

Dennis’ character arc again had lots of peaks and valleys, mirroring the story arc. Dark Girl’s character tension peaks at the beginning, but becomes low for the rest of the play. In this trail it appears she acts as a catalyst for the action and then recedes into the background watching. Hannah’s character arc has more strong fluxuations that spread the length of the play. Ellen enters later in the story, but continues to curve into a smooth high-tension arc.

I21, G46, B3, and G57 all had high story tension.

066 and N33 had low story tension.

066, I19, and B6 had higher character tension than story tension. They may be character driven, focused not on Dennis, but on Hannah and Ellen.

Trail #2:

The story arc again followed the model of the “well-made play”. It had steady rise in action until the climax, followed by a second climax near the end. Dennis’ character arc matched the story arc. The group thought this a very effective version of the play. N42 as the last random scene gave greater dramatic tension and a compelling transition to the conclusion.

Dennis again existed in extreme peaks and valleys, but it appeared in this version that the dark girl’s character arc mirrored Dennis’. Hannah and Ellen also seemed to share a character arc in this trail, with Ellen having slightly higher or lower peaks and valleys. This arc is not as extreme as Dennis and Dark Girl’s.

G46, G57, B3 were again all high tension.

B6, 075, and 066 all were low-tension scenes.

I21 and B-6 had a disparity of high Character tension to low story tension.

I19 had high plot tension, though only Ellen had high character tension in the scene.

Trail #3:

This story arc looks very different from the ones the proceeded it, The play slowly builds scene to scene until the very middle, where we have G46,G57, and B3, the three dramatic tension high points, and finally slowly lowers in tension to the end. The steady pace of this arc made it less compelling or exciting than previous trails.

Dennis never reaches a 10 for the first time in any of the trails. This may be due to the steady build of tension. His character arc matches that of the story. Dark girl lives in extremes again, but seems to drive the high-tension parts of the play. Hannah and Ellen again don’t have strong rises and falls in tension. Hannah’s tension lives between that of her parents.

G46, G57, and B3 all have high character and story tension.

O75, 066, and N33 all of the low story tension.

B6 showed signs of being character driven.

G46: War Movie

G46 has constant high story tension. Also, it contains constant high character tension for Dennis and Dark Girl.

N33: Bar

This scene fluxuates between low story tension and high story tension. The trend is: if N33 follows a high tension scene the drop off in tension for the scene is sharper and leads to a lower tension level for N33. Dennis and Ellen’s character tension, however, does not seem to be affected by this drop off. They remain consistently at a medium tension.

O66: Wedding

The Wedding scene ranges from low to medium tension. The character tension for all three characters in the scene is consistently the same.

In trial #1 it’s interesting to note that 066 was preceded by two scenes that were negative for Ellen and this resulted in the lowest rating for story tension.

N42: Fire Works

N42’s was consistently medium to slightly above medium tension. Hannah’s character tension is consistently high.

In trial #3 Dennis’ character tension was unusually low for him. This may be because the scene occurred in the second position, and his relationship with Hannah was being established for the first time.

I19: Dear NFL

I19 sits at consistent medium story tension. The character tensions are consistently low for Dennis and Dark Girl, but consistently high tension for Ellen.

G57: The Fight

This scene had consistently high tension in the story for Dennis and Ellen, and consistently medium tension for Hannah.

075: High Heels

Tends to be medium tension for the story, Ellen, and Hannah. However, it’s subject to fluxuations from an unknown source.

I21: Downing

This scene was medium-high tension for story/Dennis, and high tension for Dark Girl.

B6: Pep Talk:

This scene was a constant medium tension for Dennis’ character and Story, while being consistently high tension for Ellen and Hannah.

G60: Counting Dead

Has nearly consistent medium tension. Trial two, however, had high tension, this may be because this is the only time this scene followed a scene not directly involving Hannah. Being away from Hannah’s story arc might heighten the tension that Hannah is experiencing in this scene.

Dennis’ dramatic tension fluxuates greatly this might be because his role in the scene is not strongly defined.

Hannah’s and Dark Girls character tension are consistently high.

B3: 911

The Story’s tension is consistently high. Ellen and Hannah’s tension are consistently high. Dark Girl and Dennis’ tension are consistently medium.


· It’s impossible to have high dramatic tension with out high character tension in this play.

· Scenes that consistently have low plot tension and high character tension depend on character development for their importance. Extra time should be put into developing relationships and character in these scenes: B-6, N-33, I-19, and I-21

· Hannah’s character arc, similar to her character in the play straddles the line between Dennis and Ellen’s arcs.

· G-46, G-57, and B-3 are consistently peak scenes in all 4 trails. Though they loose some tension if they appear early on in the play.

· I-21 had consistent medium-high tension.

· I-19 and B-6 had consistent medium tension.

· O-66 and N-33 consistently are at low tension.

· N-42 and 0-75 had the most fluctuation.

· Dennis’ character tension relates directly to what kind of role he has in the scene. Scenes where he is reliving events and scenes with heavy involvement of the dark girl have the highest tension. Scenes where he is watching a memory or experiencing an event he was not at are the lowest tension.

· In 3 of the 4 trails the first scene had it’s lowest dramatic tension rating (-2 to 3). This is likely an effect of not having established relationships and character. This has major effect on the tension in scenes that average a range from 5-7. It will be important to identify what makes each scene important and not have them depend on the dramatic tension in communicating that. High scenes loose some tension, but should still be at a high enough level for tension to be key.

· Early scenes can effect characters tensions if character relationships are being established for the first time.

· The last scene pushes a scene to its tension extremes. It has either the lowest or the highest rating of dramatic tension. This may be because we want this last scene to be the catalyst from breaking from the bingo game. When it is a strong scene in regards to story plot it’s tension is raised. When it is not, it seems like a gentle fall out of this convention and lowers it’s effects.

· Story arc’s that have lots of peaks and valleys and a sharp climax toward the end of the play seem to be the most compelling structure for the show.

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