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  • katybateson

Monoscene - a test of improv ability

Out of all the shows I’ve ever performed the Monoscene was definitely the hardest but one of the most rewarding.

The show I created was called 4 Walls and was a 50 minute Monoscene. When I say Monoscene I mean the scene happens in real time, in one location without any edits.

4 Walls was a joyous show to be part of. The audience wrote down character names and a location that had 4 walls! We pulled out the character names and location and then scene painted the location. There were 3 improvisers and we described one thing in the room each.

Then we started the timer counting down from 50 minutes to 0 seconds. We were the same characters for the entire show and we couldn’t leave the stage. The last line was said just before the clock hit 00:00.

Monoscenes challenge us as improvisers and push us to be our best. You can’t make a quick gag and leave, you have to stay put. You have to deal with the consequences of what you say. Monoscenes are a true test of our improv abilities.

This means that we have to really focus on the relationships on stage, because let’s face it all stories are about relationships. Stories are about people, about love and hate, about the joy of finding someone and the fear of loosing them.

We want these relationships to be engaging (especially if you’re on stage for 50 minutes). If you spend the entire performance arguing, no one is going to care. Conflict is essential in storytelling but we can so easily use conflict as a security blanket because we’re scared. First we need to create relationships that your audience invest in, that they care about and root for. Then we bring the conflict! Meaningful and intentional conflict that advances the story.

The characters also need to be interesting and relatable. We need to dig deep and reveal the characters inner most hopes, dreams and fears. We want characters that we care about, that are vulnerable and show their truth.

And of course the Monoscene needs a structure, a beginning, a middle and end!

I adored performing in 4 Walls. It was a truly thrilling show and the buzz about getting the last line in just before the blackout at 00:00 was incredible.

I was looking back on some photos recently of our shows and it made me really miss Monoscenes so I thought I’d run a course to share what I learnt. We will spend the 4 weeks focusing on:

Performing as interesting and vulnerable characters

Quickly creating deep and meaningful relationships

When and how to use intentional conflict

Following the story arc

If you want to find out more or to book a place click here.

Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for more blogs coming soon!

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