01 See #TiSDD chapter 10, Facilitating workshops, for more on safe space, and a detailed example of building safe space for an investigative rehearsal session.
02 Oulasvirta, A., Kurvinen, E., & Kankainen, T. (2003). “Understanding Contexts by Being There: Case Studies in Bodystorming.” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 7(2), 125–134.
Theatrical methods like investigative rehearsal can be surprisingly useful for prototyping digital offerings. These techniques allow tech and UI experts to see beyond interface questions and discover other opportunities and alternatives for their projects. As a first prototype, even before sketching any wireframes, a rehearsal session is set up and a human plays the app or web page. Instead of thinking digitally, the scene is played as a conversation with a human friend or knowledgeable (invisible?) butler to see where the encounter goes. Only afterwards, the team considers how to digitalize the experience. For example, a dating app can be rehearsed by one person playing a human matchmaker (or “genie in a bottle”) who interviews people, introduces them according to their interests, suggests a location for a date which suits both and responds to their reactions, or whispers in their ears on the date to suggest conversation topics. Similarly, a landing page can be simulated by a concierge asking, “What are you looking for?” and then evolving the conversation naturally. How might that affect your digital design?
Investigative rehearsal for digital services is a theatrical method to enable deep understanding and exploration of interaction patterns, behaviors, processes, and user motivations through iterative rehearsal sessions. Based on Forum Theater, it is a structured, full-body way to clarify the use context and emotional side of an experience and reveal practicalities around physical space, language, and tone of voice – insights which are then turned into exciting user interfaces within the digital arena.
This technique has also proven to be useful when prototyping with very technical teams. Some of those teams tend to think in flow charts or old interface patterns rather than considering the human side. Rehearsing digital services challenges them to step away from wireframes and technical aspects and play the app as a human conversation. It allows them to discover that their solution space is far wider than they might have initially thought, and they can often add much more value to the app in a second iteration based on the rehearsal.