Some Notes and Tips for Monoscenes

What is a monoscene?

It’s an improv form–a structure for an improvised performance like the Harold or La Ronde.

Often in a play, a series of scenes are set in one location, all in a row with no break in time. For instance, the structure of Chekhov’s most famous plays are all pretty similar. They consist of four acts, and each act happens in a different setting. Characters enter and exit many times during the act and each time the combination of characters on stage changes, a new scene is formed. These are called French scenes.

French scenes are the building blocks of monoscenes. You start with 1-3 characters on stage doing a scene. Eventually one (or more) characters exits or enters and a new French scene occurs with the new combination of characters. There are no sweep edits or tag outs. Entering or exiting is the only way to “edit” within a monoscene. A monoscene can be 10 minutes or an hour. It’s up to you.

The term monoscene was first coined when I was working with the Swarm for their show, Slow Waltz Around Rage Mountain.
The term monoscene was first coined when I was working with the Swarm for their show, Slow Waltz Around Rage Mountain.

Think of it as a series of beats

Each beat is probably around the length of a scene, between 30 seconds and 3 minutes. The lengths should vary, but most beats should be at least a minute long. If you are getting a lot of 30 second beats, you need to focus on making beats longer and holding off longer before you enter or exit.

Within a beat the characters should mostly be talking about one thing. One beat can end, and a new one can start when:
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