Open Scene

By | August 2, 2010




This scene will have no gimmick, handle, or game attached to it. [get a simple ask for] The following scene will somehow involve [the ask for]


This is what improv is all about. The creation of scenes from very little. The scenes can be comedic, or not. It is entirely the choice of the players, and they should let themselves be in the ‘moment.’ All of the handles and games are there to train the skills of the improviser to do open scenes. Games will make your audiences laugh. Good open scenes without gimmicks will bring them back. Open scenes work best when players are accepting and advancing the scene; when they have created a real environment that is respected by all the players on the stage; when the characters are real and consistent throughout the scene; when the characters are complimentary and related through reality; and when the scenes end when they are over, usually through some element of reincorporation, not when they hit ‘the right gag.’ Those are the elements of an open scene that we all strive for, and continue to strive for. The games pay our improv bills, and hone the skills of listening, focusing, characterization, and story telling. Handles give us a cocoon to get our chops on stage, to let us realize that we can perform and help people laugh. It is the open scene that makes improv worth doing. An element of structure can help give direction to those that want to embark on open scene work. Every scene has a beginning. In the beginning of the scene the environment is usually defined. It is smart to define the environment with just one player on stage alone. In the beginning there should also be characters defined, and even the relationship between the characters. The next part is the middling of the scene. Here is where the story should start to unfold. The conflict needs to established, interpersonal conflicts work well. Any routines that develop should be broken and the scene advanced. It is easiest to advance by adding to the initial offer, and not by adding new things all the time. The ending should resolve the conflict. That will make everyone feel whole. The cleanest endings somehow reincorporate some earlier offer. Deus Ex Machina gets tiresome. The characters should be complimentary to each other, and remain consistent through the whole scene. Now go out and break every guideline. That is how we push back the envelope.


Farting on stage, saying fuck a lot, sexist comments, nudity, vomiting etc


Scene from nothing. In a scene from nothing a player hurtles onto stage, and starts a scene. It is good to explain what is happening to the audience (they may sense a that it is a scripted scene). Object based ask fors. Like, what fits in my hands. Scene based asked fors. Like, a restaurant scene.


Keith Johnstone, Viola Spolin

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