Flashbacks and Flash Forwards

Performers in a scene are asked to improvise scenes which take place seconds, minutes, days or years before or after a dramatic moment. This enables the exploration of characters’ backgrounds, motivations and the consequences of their actions.

The method can be used to quickly bring depth to activities involving still images or improvised drama.  Adding Flashbacks or Flash Forwards creates a context – it shows what led up to a particular moment, how it might be resolved or how it may lead onto additional challenges.  The technique helps to flesh out a dramatic moment or create the beginnings of a story.

How to do it

With a group that has created a still image, explain that when you clap your hands, you would like them to move silently in slow-motion to where their character was a few moments before.  When they are frozen still in the new image, you can use thought-tracking to explore character motivation.

Now ask them to move back to their original image – which is the present moment.  Then you can use Flash Forwards – participants move in slow-motion to indicate where their characters might be a short time after this moment.  In this way you have created an episode with a beginning, middle and end and can develop it in any number of ways.