There are lots of ways to get from scene to scene, here are some popular ones and one variation of how to execute them. These edits are used differently by different groups, and can be adapted as needed. The source of most of these edits is iO Theater in Chicago.
|Sweep||When the scene is over, run across in front. Some groups make that person stay and start the next scene, I think it looks better if they do not and other people start the next scene.|
|Tag Out||Dan and Janet are doing a scene. Ted tags Janet on the shoulder. Janet gets out of there, Dan stays the same character and has a scene with Ted.The main purpose of this edit is because we want to learn more about a character by seeing her in a different context. This can also be used to create a montage. A string of people can tag in so we see a series of short scenes where Dan’s interviewing for jobs or being mean to the elderly. A classic way to end a montage is by having the original scene partner tag back in and say a last line.|
|Movie/Cut To||A person comes onstage and uses their hands like the viewfinder of a camera and they say, “We leave this store and pan over to a parking garage. It’s late at night and it’s cold and water is dripping from the roof. There is only one car here” or something like that. They’re describing how the transition would happen in a movie, so it can be anything. Then other people start the scene in that new location. (This edit is part of a larger form called “The Movie” and is very thoroughly explained in the UCB Comedy Manual.) A very simplified version, especially useful later in the show when we’ve picked up momentum, is just called the “Cut to” edit. Someone might say, “Cut back to the barbershop” or another location, new or previously established.|
|Transformer||Everyone on the outside of the scene copies something physical/vocal that happened and transition it into the next scene, i.e. BOB: I like tuna! TRACY: Ugh! (she throws her arms up in the air)Everyone else starts throwing their arms up in the air and saying “Ugh!” and they take over the whole stage. Eventually that becomes something else in a mirror-exercise kind of way. It might transform a couple of times. Then someone turns that into a new scene and everyone else clears the stage.|
|Cross Fade||SCENE A is happening. Bob enters downstage and begins something unrelated without making eye contact with the players in SCENE A. Someone joins him. The players in SCENE A finish what they’re doing and exit to the back line as elegantly as possible.|
This edit is a fun challenge to execute. You have to leave a little extra space so that we can hear what’s happening in the other scene in the moments in which they overlap. You have to fade out SCENE A without making it look like a mistake or getting quiet and timid. Bob may have to repeat things that he said in case his scene partner didn’t hear them while the scenes were overlapping.
|Two more basic “edits” to consider:|
|Leaving||There’s no need to practice this one, but it is the most easily forgotten. “Hey let’s go to the Dairy Queen,” then you physically leave the stage and the scene is over.|
|Split Screen||This is not really an edit, it is two scenes happening simultaneously. Two players are having a scene. Two other player are having a different scene in a different place happening at the same time. Think “Summer Lovin'” from Grease where we get to see what the boys are up to and what the girls are up to simultaneously through the miracle of give and take.|
PART 2: THE PURPOSE OF EACH EDIT
Every edit effects the mood and pace of a set. Here’s a brief discussion of WHY you might select a given edit, what form traditionally uses this edit, pros/cons/strengths/weaknesses, and what would be a group’s intention in selecting this edit.
|Tag Out||Quickly switches a character|
Belongs to: “La Ronde” – Intent: to quickly insert a character that can highlight the first characters wants and quirks.
Also belongs to: “Armando” – Intent: to play a game of the scene quickly.
|Movie/Cut To||Solves the problem of having no sets or costumes|
Belongs to: “The Movie”
Intent: to be as cinematic as possible.
|Transformer||Physically connects scenes|
Belongs to: “The Beast” and other organic forms
Intent: to connect to the space and each other in a physical and emotional way.
|Cross Fade||Creates a pleasing friction and edits with less mechanics|
Belongs to: “Scramble”
Intent: to be more theatrical and have the mechanics of improv be more invisible.
|Follow the Leaver||Can be used to break an addiction to plot|
Belongs to: “Follow the Leaver” and “The Butch”
Intent: to follow any character, not just the logical one.
|Sweep||“Sweeps” the stage clean of the previous scene|
Belongs to: “Harold” and many other forms.
Intent: to clearly indicate a new scene.