I recently attended a workshop on transitions given by Tim Orr of longform trio 3 For All. It's a topic I'd covered with him before as part of a broader workshop, but one well worth revising. Especially as it is something I feel I've underused in the year and a half since the earlier workshop. Transitions are the moving from one scene to another, one location to another, one time to another, or one beat or sequence to another. So as well as the usual "edits" there is a whole bunch of other techniques that can be used not just between scenes but also during scenes. This includes techniques for performing multiple scenes at the same time, even in the same physical space.
Tim's mantra is to always ask "how we can make the current scene as magical as possible at any moment?" It's a great approach and is so much better for making wonderful scenes than the common mantra of "how can I be funny right now?" His approach, although he always talks about making improv more theatrical, is actually to make improv more like movies. This is definitely where my thinking is these days. Movies are the things we should have in mind when making improvised stories. Theatre has so many limitations – certainly in terms of making spectacular things happen – whereas in improv, where the set, props and costumes are all made out of the imagination of the audience, we are actually much, much freer to make anything we want happen. And I do believe anything can be made to happen. There is always a way to represent any situation or at least part of any situation. We just need to imagine how it could be done and to get everybody else on board with it. This is obviously not a simple task, but it is achievable with a group of people who are ready to let their imagination move beyond the confines of the stage, are prepared to take the risk and who are really, really working together.
I will certainly talk a little more about transitions in the future, but if you really want to learn about them, go take Tim's workshop.
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