Edits in Improv (Basic)

What is defined as an edit is somewhat less important than the effect. Edits are better defined as “any time a person enters or exits.”
However, loosely defined, edits are any things that act on the scene from the outside in a way that changes the direction of the scene. There are edits that initiate a new scene and there are edits that help an existing scene from the outside. This is not a definitive list but more of a work in progress.

For edits to be successfully done EYE CONTACT is essential. If you want someone to stay on stage you need to make eye contact with them, if you want them to leave, do not make eye contact with them.

Edits are grouped below in subcategories that they are most similar to:

1. Basic edits (Hanamichi, sweep edit, transition edit and cross edit are essentially the same thing, in that they all start a new scene).

o Cross Edit – come on stage, walk to the opposite DS position, and start a new scene or start the new scene while crossing down stage. Someone off stage walks across the stage w/o making eye contact and the people on stage exit. People on stage exit.

o Hanamichi Edit – usually happens to DSL or DSR of stage, new person comes on stage and freezes in a pose. Two people on stage leave.

o Sweep/Curtain Edit – someone off stage comes on stage and mimes wiping the stage clean. The action of drawing a curtain is also popular.

o Transition Edit – (Game time) Person enters from off stage and takes Center Stage
Activity – the machine would be an example of this

2. French Edits (Stalker, push, pull and slacker are all variations).

o French Edit (R.’s definition) – In classic French drama, any time a character enters or exits, it’s considered the start of a new scene.

o Push Edit – 3rd person enters two person scene and tells one of them that they are needed offstage. Or someone calls from offstage for a character that is on stage, person leaves (the latter situation mandates that someone jump on stage pronto so the person that is on stage isn’t left alone for any length of time).

o Pull Edit – Call someone from offstage on to the stage. Usually a slacker or a push edit needs to happen to get one of the players currently on stage to go offstage.

o Slacker Edit – three people are on stage and someone finds a reason to leave of their own volition.

o Stalker Edit – usually involves someone spying at upstage center, involves miming a hiding place (in LTC USL or USR is also good). This edit doesn’t change the location. The two people on stage are talking – person upstage says a phrase or word that they have spoken, says it out loud, the two people “on-stage” hear it (don’t know where it’s coming from) but take it as a cue to leave and talk privately – person hiding upstage comes out and starts a related scene from the line or word that they said while upstage.

3. Directing Edits and variations thereof are Swinging Door, Tag Out, and Split Scene (though Split Screen also may transition to a new scene).

o Directing Edit – “delivering a package and exiting” thing. You’re basically entering the scene to deliver some small piece of information and then leaving. The package isn’t the only way to do this. You could also do scene painting which involves someone off stage coming on stage and drawing attention to important aspects of the space to enhance the scene. The point of this edit is to support the scene by adding some new information that drives it forward in some way. Ideally, the players take whatever information that was delivered in the directing edit and make it very important for the scene. It’s sort of a way of saying “I recognize that this scene needs help and am going to provide them with something that will help them.”

o Traveling edit – two person scene involves another location. The two people “travel” (usually walking in a circle) to that location and someone off stage offers to be a person of that “new” locale. Usually an additional push or pull is needed when they get to the 2nd locale so it’s back to a two person scene.

o Split Scene – two people are on stage, two more people enter and start having a loosely related scene (doesn’t need to be in the same location-better if it isn’t). They alternate conversations between the two couples.

o Swinging Door – two people are on stage, one person enters and “swings” the person in the center to them and has a related scene with that person, the person on the other side, doesn’t leave but waits and “swings” the other person back to them to talk to. Person that initiates the swinging door (3rd person) usually is responsible for ending the swinging door and leaving.

o Time edit – Flash Forward or Flash Back. This is a directed edit. Someone off stage says “Flash forward or flash back to (a specific time)” and the people on stage do so.

o Tag Out – come on stage and tag someone out to leave and continues the scene.


5 thoughts on “Edits in Improv (Basic)

    1. Thanks for the link. I like the article you wrote on editing in longform. It is pretty comprehensive in itself. The only thing that I didn’t add in my first blog was the self-edit. Probably worth talking about, mostly because if you can see that the scene is over from the inside, edit it. Good beginner exercise because if you can see it from inside then by process you should be able to see it from outside.

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