Off Stage Planning


New Member
The host for our next show would like to incorporate off stage planning during the long form portion of the show. In rehearsal, I find this distracting and causing forcing of ideas. I have made the statement that off stage conversation among troupe members to establish the "beats" of the long form once the prompt has been secured from the audience negates the definition of improv. I have decidedly avoided participating in the brainstorming off stage as others play out scenes of a story arch and have contributed more spontaneously focusing on the character I have chosen to assume in the story I am observing being played out. This has caused comments from the other actors following the show such as "The plan made off stage was for Jim and me to go out and steal the gold but then Amy (me) went out and buried the gold". I defended my actions by saying I was focused on what was happening on stage and was motivated by my character choice and not by the distracting whispered discussion going on off stage. What is your opinion of the value of and appropriateness of off stage planning during long form improv?


IRC Administrator
Staff member
I'm thinking that I have some conflicting advice for you.

On the one hand, I do not particularly like planning like this. I think it's better for everyone to be focused on the show as it unfolds. I've done shows where people take notes back stage of what has happened, names and such. That seems to be helpful, although it can steal your focus away. I've also heard of shows and participated in a few with templates that govern how the show unfolds. That can work as well. But actual offstage planning is not a choice I would make as a director. At most I might encourage people to nudge another performer to edit with them, because in their head they have an idea of what could come next. But once you get out there, it's best to follow the flow.

However, I'm assuming this host has the role of a coach or director and that the team as a whole has agreed to do this offstage planning. If that's the case, you have a choice, you either participate as fully as you can and cooperate with the team agreement, or if you just can't do that, you step away from the show. I've been in shows and directed shows where everyone except for one performer is on board to try something. It can be pretty rough and alienating. The best way to work through these things is to give it your all and try to make it work. And if it fails, you can suggest trying without the planning or with much less planning at a later date.