Tricks of Duo Blocking

When watching a Duo it looks like magic that two people, who are not allowed to directly interact, can cooperate so well together.  They always know where the other is, never bump into each other, and time movements perfectly.  It's like watching those massive flocks of birds that seem to instinctively know when to turn as one so that they can make those mind-boggling acute angles without causing an aerial collision.  How does a Duo do it?! 

The solution to this Duo riddle is as base as you've probably concluded: PRACTICE.  Really, that is hardly a secret, but it is the method to any form of success in Forensics.  The thing is to find ways to practice.  Just jumping into a no-contact maneuver and assuming you and your partner will be pros instantly is ridiculous.  Here are some tactics your Duo can employ to ease blocking:

  • Really do exchanges. If your Duo requires you and your partner to fake an exchange, such as a slap or a Jedi choke hold, one of the best ways to practice the move is to begin by actually doing it with your partner.  Not to say you should really hit or harm your partner!  No, be gentle.  But there is something to be said about physically interacting with your partner to master an interaction.  By physically interacting you and your partner will be able to practice timing and train yourselves into muscle memory mode.  Doing a move enough times will cause your body to memorize how it feels.  Back to the slap, if you practice at first by doing then you can mentally store necessary information: the height of your partner so you know where to strike, the feel of how much is appropriate force, the positioning your arm undergoes, which way your head spins when hit, etc.  After an exchange has been practiced and detailed several times make the transition of performing it Duo style.
  • Count it out. When a Duo calls for a ballet of actions, it might not be a terrible idea to actually time a motion.  Dancers stay in sync due to the miracle of counting; perhaps there is a spot where timing could work for your piece.  Have a set word, phrase, sound, etc. to act as the signal to begin counting from, and perhaps have other words or positions serve as markers/check points to stay together.  If your Duo does use this technique it is advised to count out loud in practice to ensure both of you are keeping the same time.
  • Start slow. Even professionals enter a new situation as learners.  Trying to block and time anything swiftly, even in Duet Acting where contact is allowed, is silly.  The only thing that will be accomplished is becoming frustrated and maybe getting a headache.  Begin slow.  Break a movement down into its components, and as your Duo grows in confidence gradually build by putting the pieces together and moving faster.  You will save time, and your sanity, ultimately.
  • Remain open. Though you might have a vision of blocking genius, it does not always translate to it working for real.  Or, there might be a mediocre move that can be revamped.  Always remain open to new suggestions and try new ideas.  Even utterly ridiculous ideas (within reason of course) can be brilliant once physically done.  You never know.  Hey, people thought the aeroplane was a ludicrous concept way back when. 
  • Refer to the script! Always, ALWAYS refer to the script.  All Duo blocking should enhance and help tell the story.  Most blocking can be solved/created by re-reading and interpreting the text.
  • Variation. No one wants to look at your Duo facing forward, side-by-side, for the entirety of your piece.  Be creative and think of ways to add variety.  Even turning to a profile view at some point differentiates and holds audience interest.  Use your space effectively!  Just don't go overboard.
  • Peripherals and sound. Use them.  You might not be able to directly gaze upon your partner, but you certainly can keep tabs on them by holding them in you field of vision.  Listening also gives you an idea of where you partner is (blocking has marks (designated places to be) and lines generally serve as ques for when to move and where).  Knowing where they are and what they are doing could be more then helpful with timing.

Certainly there are more tricks Duos have devised to help with blocking and timing.  These are just basic guidelines to help your Duo along.  The main idea though is to map out your blocking, memorize it, and practice until polished.  Generally, the same principle of any Forensics event.  Except you and your partner have the potential handicap of "blindness" and the inability to touch.  'Potential' is the key word.  Do not let Duo limit you!  Duo is only as limiting as you allow.