Scene Sale

When I’m told that the spectators expect the scenes to be based on their suggestions, I say that it’s because we’ve trained them that way, and that we’ve also trained them to make stupid suggestions.

I invented the Scene Sale as a way to affirm that the players are not the audience’s slaves. Use it once and the audience understands instantly that a stupid idea that gets a laugh may be useless as the basis for a scene.

A player becomes an ‘auctioneer’ and gets the spectators to ‘bid’ for a scene, checking with the other players to see whether any suggestion inspires them.

– We want a suggestion that thrills us.
– Brazil!
– What does that mean? You want a scene in Brazil?
[The improvisers give it a thumbs down.]
– Climbing a mountain?
– What do you want to happen on that mountain?
– You meet a yeti!
– Anyone want to accept that? What else are we offered.
– Your daughter arrives home with an old schoolfriend of yours.
– Er . . . Does anyone like that idea?
[The improvisers shake their heads.]
– You’re an old man, and the schoolfriend is even older than you are!
– And your daughter is only fifteen!
– We accept!

The enthusiasm that this creates among the actors gives a reasonable chance that the scene will be worth watching.

Impro For Storytellers, Keith Johnstone (Chapter 2 – Audience Suggestions)

Source: Les enchères de scènes

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