W is a research collective that studies action in a performance setting. What does it mean to act as others watch? What characterizes the relation we call theater?

To answer these questions, W simultaneously develops three complementary approaches: a practice, which builds tools and techniques for the actor; a critical method, which suggests reception guidelines for the spectator; and a theory, which works towards defining notions useful to the first two approaches.

In particular, W produces games, a score writing software, a lexicon of operational notions, workshops and practical sessions, critical seminars, as well as articles and conferences.


  1. The number of players is set between two and ten. A croupier starts the game, keeps an eye on the time, and checks the pot. Each player has twenty chips. The use of paper and pencil is permitted.

  2. A round involves the construction of a series of words. It consists of several turns: at each turn, players face one another to propose the best word for continuing the series.

  3. The round starts with each player putting a single chip in the pot. The croupier announces a word (called the “pilot”) and enters it at the beginning of the series.

  4. First turn: any player A can propose a word to begin constructing a series with the pilot-word. They then add one or more chips to the pot.

  5. A player B can try to outdo the word proposed for the current turn: they then exclaim “I have something better!,” announce their word, and raise the stakes. Other players C, D, E, etc., can try to outdo this until no one has anything better to propose for the turn. Each turn limits players’ total time for reflection to three minutes.

  6. Once bidding is complete, players who have proposed a word can either fold, match the last bet, or raise the stakes.

  7. Bidding continues until every player has either folded or matched the others.

  8. If only one player remains standing after bidding, their word is confirmed and entered in the series after the pilot-word. They then take the pot and a new turn begins to continue the series.

  9. If several players remain standing, the best word for continuing the series must then be determined: each player (starting with the last to have spoken) is then invited to state a rule fit for making sense of the series (which at this stage consists of two words, the pilot and their own).

  10. A rule is a definition that determines a group of words. It should meet the following criteria:

    • it must be quickly verifiable and refer to knowledge shared by all players
    • it cannot be composite, that is to say it cannot contain the conjunction “or”
    • it cannot cite the words that it is supposed to make sense of
    • two rules determining a same group of words make one
  11. The best rules are the narrowest in scope, that is, those that determine the smallest possible group of words.

  12. A rule proposed by a player cannot be verified by a competing word previously mentioned in the current turn.

  13. If it is impossible to quickly determine which of multiple rules is the narrowest in scope, a battle is then engaged: each player (starting with the first to have spoken) states their rule and their adversaries have ten seconds to find a word that verifies it. The first rule not to be provided for wins the turn.

  14. The winner of the turn takes the pot, their word is entered in the series after the pilot, and a new turn begins to continue the series.

  15. Words proposed in subsequent turns must not verify winning rules of preceding turns. Each new turn must indeed correspond to a rule that is slightly wider in scope than the preceding turn.

  16. A game ends when a turn no longer allows for proposing a single, totalizing rule (for example: “a set of words”) to account for the series. The first player to notice this cries out “jackpot!” and goes all in. If they are not contested, they take the pot. If another player believes that it is still possible to propose a non-totalizing rule, they cry out “counter-jackpot!” and go all in. They must then state a word and then a rule. If the rule is validated, their word is entered in the continuation of the series, the player collects all the chips on the table and the game resumes.

  17. A player with no more chips is eliminated.

  18. The winner is the player with the most chips at the end of the round.