Game Library: “Creation Myth Scene”

Creation Myth Scene belongs to a category of short-form games that requires a good dose of creative reverse engineering. (Other examples include Famous Last Words, In A, With A, While A… and Commercial.) Subsequently, it’s no small act of Trust to bravely explore a patient and unified path forward alongside your teammates.

The Basics

The scene gains its impetus from a human-made object or invention, such as a pencil, lunchbox, or slinky. For reasons that will become clear, highly technological items are less helpful for this particular frame. Players imagine and create a world in which this item does not yet exist. As the scene progresses, the conditions and elements required to make the proffered item slowly assemble until, finally, the characters discover this new valuable gift to humanity.


The audience suggests “wheelbarrow.” As the lights rise, Player A lumbers onto the stage carrying an immensely heavy rock. After each few steps, they pause to rest before taking up their burden once more. A few steps later, a second character, Player B, struggles on behind them.

Player A: (with approximated stone age speech patterns) “This rock… heavy.”

Player B: (prodding A forward) “Must make wall.”

Player A: (pushing the rock out of desperation) “This rock HEAVY!”

Both characters watch as the large rock rolls just a little

Player B: “Push rock more!’

Player B tries to do the same with their rock but it doesn’t work.

Player B: “Push your rock more!”

Both characters delight in their rolling rock. They are oblivious as Player C enters from the opposite direction struggling under the burden of a load of wood…

Player C: “This wood… heavy…”

The Focus

Any scene that seeks a particular collective end – in this case, the emergence of the named object – can unfortunately put players in their individual heads as they strive to intellectually solve the scenic riddle. Pay extra attention to your teammates, making sure you are supporting and trusting their instincts rather than just passively waiting to insert your own idea regardless of if it’s a grounded next step based on the current scenic conditions. Yes, look for opportunities to nudge the creation a small step forward, but also fearlessly exist in the here and now.

Traps and Tips

1.) Construct a world. One of my favorite aspects of Creation Myth Scene is that it gives you the opportunity to explore more radically different times and places than your average “kitchen sink” scene. No one on your team will necessarily know with any certainty when the object in question actually came into being, so don’t be afraid of just making a definitive, educated guess. The balance of this scene is particularly important as it establishes the rules for everything that follows. Subsequently, be wary of just casually wandering into the action if your fellow players have gone to the trouble of crafting a specific time period or mood. Style scenes provide a great break from the mundane every day, so take full advantage of this component. The scene is framed as a “myth” after all, so don’t default to modern blandness out of carelessness.

2.) Bring one brick. This game invites players to assemble the requisite pieces for the named product. It follows that these ingredients will need to make it to the stage eventually, but don’t just throw them all at the stage immediately and haphazardly. Take the improv adage of “bring one brick” (rather than a cathedral) literally and take the risk of establishing one element with joyful precision, especially during the opening moments of the scene. The stone age characters’ large rocks might serve primarily as the obstacle, forming the need for the wheelbarrow, or with a little love and polishing, might also provide a step towards the beckoning solution. Let each new element have its own featured moment, trusting that your teammates will have the wherewithal to add the next step when it’s needed.

3.) Craft don’t solve. At first glance, this format might look quite similar to Commercial (see here), which also requires players to develop the need for a new product to cure their woes. The potential for period-infused style marks one important distinction; the requirement to actually invent the product in real time serves as another. In Commercial, Player C might just enter pushing the desired wheelbarrow. In Creation Myth Scene, however, this object doesn’t exist until the onstage characters make it from their combined efforts. It’s more than appropriate for C to enter with a piece of the puzzle – the wood planks in this case – but it implodes the playful premise if one character just has the fully realized prop in their possession. This game provides the very embodiment of privileging messy process over a tidy product.

4.) Get on board. Beware of the conflict-seeking naysayer! This scene needs a few minutes to evolve unlike the intentionally sharper Famous Last Words or Commercial; but, if a character falls into a contrarian attitude, there probably isn’t enough time in your whole evening to get the scene to the finish line. Stalling the action by commenting on logic flaws or inconsistencies – rather than seeing these holes and then immediately working to be part of a solution – will undermine the momentum of the rising action which is so critical for the game. Choose to be equally invested as a character and a player: this is the historical moment that this object needed to come into existence and when all the required components finally lined up perfectly. Be a willing part of that perfection!

In Performance

It’s not obligatory, but it can provide a fitting button to end the scene by naming the new wondrous creation. This may or may not line up with how the object has become known to us in the modern period. Whether or not you punctuate the scene in this fashion, make sure your characters actively use and celebrate this memorable contribution to the evolution of the human race! The format has a built-in climax, and even if your efforts have resulted in only partial “success,” don’t throw away this promised ending.

Cheers, David Charles.
Join my Facebook group here.
Photo Credit: Tony Firriolo
© 2023 David Charles/ImprovDr

Connected Concept: Trust

Published by improvdr

A professional improvisational practitioner with over thirty years experience devising, directing, performing, teaching and consulting on the craft of spontaneous (and scripted) theatre and performance.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: