monoscene

Abridged notes from Monoscene class #3

Nuggets:

  • Don’t try to solve the problem. When someone says “this is my problem,” you should respond “shit, yeah, that sure is a problem,” instead of “okay, well, if you do THIS, you can fix it, it’s not so bad.”
  • When you get a location, the first thing you’ll think is to be interacting with it as a visitor/patron/customer. Instead try to place yourself as someone who works there, behind the scenes, day in day out.
  • Even a loose monoscene has a similar structure/rules to a Harold:
    • Series of two-person scenes: even when there are lots of characters onstage, what matters is the individual relationships between pairs of characters. These are the two-person scenes that you’d have in a Harold.
    • First beat, second beat, third beat. We haven’t covered this yet, specifically, but I’m pretty sure we will.
    • Giving focus: just like you wouldn’t yell over each other in a group game, give focus and take focus where it’s needed.
    • Know each other: (especially in the beginning of the monoscene.) It helps move the scene, it helps the audience give a damn (‘cos if YOU don’t care, how can they?). The characters should somehow care about each other.

 

More notes about walk-ons:

They don’t have to be brilliant– just be someone who’d flesh out the universe. The conversation you have with one or both characters SHOULDN’T be directly related to what the characters were discussing before you came on, so don’t feel stuck! (In fact, I bet I could brainstorm a bunch of announcements/ conversation starters beforehand, and have ’em available as backup when I need ’em– kind of like I did/still do with “relationships”. Or a bunch of three-person relationships– boyfriend, girlfriend, boyfriend’s roommate, for example)

Notes from Magnet Level 4 Monoscene Class #1

After over a month of sadly clicking “refresh” on the Magnet class list webpage, hoping another Monday or Wednesday Level 3 or 4 would be announced, an open slot magically appeared for a closed-out Wednesday Level 4 I’d been pining for. What. After a brief assessment of my financial situation and double-checking that I could commit for the next 3 months, I jumped on that open slot. This all happened yesterday, and the first class was today.

Yay I’m taking a class again!!!

(And then I remembered I’m terrible at monoscenes! But that’s why you take classes, right? If I were already awesome, I wouldn’t need someone to teach me how to do this!)

So I’m jotting down whatever notes I can remember from class, to help me rock the monoscene as much as I can.

These are not comprehensive, and are mostly for my own use.

 

—–

Exercises:

  • Warm-ups: Name + gesture (Superheroes), What are you doing, basic warm-up scenes
  • Warm-up scenework: Initiation + strong emotional reaction, Character matching
  • Monoscene specific:
    • Build out an environment with 3 “stations” (things to touch); then a second person comes in and initiates the speaking part of the scene while interacting with the 3 stations the first person set up.
    • Two people start a scene (in an environment); then we pause and discuss, as a class, some options for who an appropriate walk-on might be.

 

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Building an environment

When your scene partner does an action (interacting with the environment), and you have no idea what it is, just go over there and approximate what you saw your scene partner do.

Possible outcomes:

  1. You’ll understand what they were going for once you go through the motions.
  2. You’ll still have no idea what it is, but you’ll be able to name the thing.
  3. You’ll still have no idea what it is, but you don’t HAVE to know what it is, because the scene isn’t ABOUT your environment, because you don’t need to TALK about your environment ANYWAY.

—–

Two-person scenes + walk-ons

Walk-ons are still scary! Aaaaaaaagh I am a huge scaredy cat.

The first two people in a monoscene: match! Maybe not as much as you would for a regular two-person scene, but matching accents, jobs, and/or relationships (etc.) are great tools.

The third person (first walk-on) can be whomever, but:

  1. If the entire scene is largely about some offscreen person (“I want to sleep with Jessica!” “After what she did to me?” “She’s my spirit animal!” “I’ll never forgive either of you!”), save that person’s walk-on until closer to the end. Build and heighten this Jessica character, so when she finally walks on, she’s the big satisfactory “ah” we’ve all been waiting for.
  2. Another parallel match can work well— like, again, matching accents, jobs (preferably a coworker— if you’re a boss, don’t just talk about your employees doing the job better), and/or relationships— to help flesh out the world the first two people have started building.
  3. Someone else in the world that the first two characters have set up. Keep your ears open. Where are the characters? Who else might exist in this location? Does one of the characters have a brother? A child? A teacher he/she is avoiding?

 

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Personal notes

  • Stop being scared (but you knew that)— if the scene needs a thing, go out there and do that thing, even if you have no idea what or how to do it. (Maybe ask about how fully formed the premises/walk-ons need to be— or maybe you’ll find out)
  • Respond to the last thing that was said— even if you think you’re mostly doing that, you and your scene partner(s) may not be on quite the same page. If he/she uses a colorful word, grab on to that word and repurpose/repeat it. (Remember Sebastian’s trick of just repeating the thing the other person said!)
  • Listen! Drink coffee! My brain fogged over after 8:30, and zoning out is terrible for improv.

 

 

…I keep skimming the above section and misreading it as “fully formed penises.” Heh heh heh.

 

…Aight, it’s after 1am and I need to get up in less than 5 hours.