A quick guide for players
Micetro, pronounced as ‘Maestro’, and indeed now called Maestro in many places.
This format was devised by Keith Johnston and is administered by the International Theatresports Institute. It was created to allow performers of mixed abilities to work together. Typically there are 10-14 players (although in a large venue some groups play with up to 20), an MC, a musician, a scorekeeper, and 1 or 2 directors and a lighting improvisor – though in a small venue there might just be a single director who also does the lights, and the MC will do the calculating and scorekeeping.
It is very much a game-of-a-game, with the players pretending to the audience that they are super serious about ‘competing’ with each other (the stakes are high), although REALLY everyone is working together to create a great experience for the audience. However, the feedback from the audience – who judge each scene – is quite real, an instant judgement on each scene.
In some shows the players are called by numbers, wearing big bold numbers on their clothes so the audience can see. The person wearing number one will typically assume the persona of the “last week” or “last season” winner (real or not). Other times, it operates with name tags.
The directors choose the appropriate number of players for scenes, usually fishing name tags or numbers out of a hat, although these may be tweaked slightly to ensure that newer players are well supported. The directors explain the improv game to be played, may ask the audience for suggestions, direct and correct the scene. Depending on the venue, suggestions may also be collected before the show, for example if the ‘pick up lines’ game is being played.
After each scene or game the audience decides, by cheering and applause how many points the scene should be awarded, with one being for a not-so-good scene, and a five a scene that made them laugh and cry. Each player gets as many points as the scene he or she played in was awarded, although the MC may give or deduct extra points for good or ‘bad’ player behavior. Note the “Last Name” rule. If a director *really* wants you to stop the mischief, they will use your last name. So, “Billy, it’s time to leave the stage” means “Billy, carry on”, while “Smithers, time to leave the stage” means really go now this has gone on too long.
Also, *be happy* if your scene is awarded a one or two, your audience have judged you correctly! The evening will be much more interesting than if every scene is given a three. Also, this is not a fair competition. Because it is not a competition.
Once everyone has played in a scene (or more often two or three), the players with the lowest score take a bow and leave, happily and gracefully, and the whole thing starts again. Usually there are about five rounds in a one hour show. The directors generally ensure that that there are more group-games at the start of the evening, and more 2-person scenes or even monologues toward the end of the evening.
This is a fun format designed to be played with mixed bunches of experienced and not-so-experienced players, with challenges for all. Since players are immediately judged, it is perfectly possible to loose a star player near the start. Being eliminated doesn’t mean someone is out of the show: there will be opportunities to leap back on stage when there’s a need for a forest in the background, or a backing chorus for a rousing song.
In the end there will be one player acclaimed Micetro: this is the signal for all the players to return to the stage and admire the winner.
Typical games you might expect to see in a WIT Micetro
Freeze tag as a group game at the beginning
Word at a time story
Speak in one voice
Epic poem or Arty Poem
Experts – either Arms Experts or with an interpreter
Musical rollercoaster, or emotional rollercoaster
Numbers of words (speaking in sentences the length controlled by the director)
Touch to talk
Song, sonnet sermon
Rhyming Couplet scene
Opera or Gibberish Opera
Death in a Minute
Scene ending in I love you
Songs on a topic of the audiences choosing (typically folk or rock ballads)
Open scenes, with an initial situation or issue suggested by the audience
If you find yourself up for a game you don’t recognise, in a clear voice ask the Director to explain it for the audience.
[adapted from The Improv Encyclopedia itself sourced from the original source of all things Micetro, Keith Johnstone’s Impro for Storytellers]
Resources (or just make your own, these are just one guide) :
MC Sheet : Micetro Score Sheet_revised
Directors’ Notes : Micetrodirectorsheet