What Comes Next?

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Haymaker

There’s this game we play – stolen and bastardized from this guy. We create stories by asking each other “What comes next?” One person starts a story and gets to keep telling it one line at a time until his response is no longer believable (or he’s taking too long to think about a response). At this point the asker responds with a “Nope!” and the roles reverse. Asker/Listener is now Storyteller.

We’re on an island.

What comes next?

Emily needs to poop.

What comes next?

There’s no toilet paper…

You get the idea.

For us, it’s an exercise in storytelling, gut response, and trusting each other’s imaginations. It drives creativity in a non-threatening and energized way. Very often we act out the physicality of the story, and the game becomes about putting each other into awkward physical situations.

We’ll play “What comes next?” in the rehearsal room while warming up and while building shows, scenes, and characters – but we’ve been known to use the same technique during business meetings.

Last January, we met to decide what comes next after What’s that Cost: The Federal Budget and You.

Each of us brought a series of ideas into the room on what we were curious about in the world, what we’d like to explore together, and what we’d want to give to our friends and family and you.

We each laid out our ideas and started asking questions. What excites you about this? What interests me about that? Where does my personal story fit in here? Where does the universal experience go there? Then a scary thing happened — we played What Comes Next and laid out a production calendar through 2014.

We had dozens of projects to choose from, some which will make it into our lives through independent work, side projects, or play readings. But at the end of the weekend, we had decided on the three projects that Haymaker will focus on in the next 2 years.

1. This fall, we’ll be working on a well-written play not by us and not using our semi-democratic devising process, a show that will help us focus on other aspects of our work.

2. We’re beginning work on an adaptation of Elektra that will include original music, to be produced in full in the fall of 2013.

3. And for the spring of 2014, we will create an original work exploring our obsession to preserve the “American sugar-high,” titled (for now) America Forever.

All of these shows are already in various stages of development, and we’re plotting ways to begin sharing with you the process we are going through to create them. We’re also adopting a model of putting up multiple preview drafts, so a staged reading of one of these scripts may be coming soon to a Rehearsal Shack near you.

And now, with those already in the hopper, we’re a little excited and a little scared because come next January, we’re going to be asking again: What Comes Next?