Canned Scenes

There are moments in stories when the instructor can insert into a story a sort of “packaged”, or pre-planned little scene, one lasting just a few minutes, but always of interest to the kids. Here are two examples:

Canned Scene 1 – “Knockathon”:

This scene can happen in a story whenever an actor approaches a house to knock on the door or ring the doorbell.

A short girl wanted a short boyfriend so she left her house and went to the house next door. She knocked on the door.

Instructor says: “Class, the girl knocked on the door!”

A student calls out: “Combien de fois/How many times?”

This was the voice of the “Combien de Fois? (CF) person. It is actually a job a student has in my classroom, like the Window Box person in the Realm. Whenever a person knocks on a door, just before the knuckles go to the door, they ask:

“How many times?” (did the person knock on the door).

The instructor says some number, and then the CF person knocks (on their table) while trying to synchronize the knocking motion of the actor with their own knocks. They have to knock as many times as was specified. If the sound is not in sync with the knocking motion, the CF person may get fired.

So in the story, when the instructor says that the actor knocked on the door, the actor puts their hand up to knock on the door, and the CF person asks immediately, “How many times?” The instructor says something like 17 times, then the two try to synchronize the sound with the action. If the instructor says 3,498 times, we all say, Ce n’est pas logique! – the instructor writes the big number on the board, everyone laughs and the story goes on.

So that gives repetitions on Combien de fois/How many times? To get repetitions on “For how long?” we do another canned scene.

Canned Scene 2 – “Ringeroni”:

Instructor: “Class, the girl rang the doorbell!”

Student: “Pendant combien de secondes/For how many seconds?”

This was the voice of the “Pendant Combien de Secondes?” (CS) person. It is another job a student has in my classroom whenever a person rings a doorbell. There are two parts to their job:

1. Just at the moment an actor in a story is about to ring a doorbell, they ask, “For how many seconds?” (did the person ring the doorbell). This expression, of course, can be varied to minutes, months, etc.

2. Then, the PCS person makes some kind of weird ringing noise, perhaps by putting their hands over their mouth with their pinky in the air while trying to synchronize the ringing motion of the actor with their sounds. They have to ring and make that sound for as long as was specified.

In the story, then, when the instructor says that the actor rang the doorbell, the actor puts their finger out to press on bell, and the PCS person asks immediately, “For how long?”, then the two try to synchronize the ringing sound with the action.

The story goes on from there. In one instance, a very handsome boy answered, but, unfortunately, he had two noses. The girl was shocked, ran away, the boy chased her, etc. etc.

Such canned scenes like these, which are completely pre-planned, shouldn’t last more than five to seven minutes, or they pull energy away from story. If they are done with a lot of good visceral acting, however, they are quite amusing and lend strength and interest to the overall story.

And the best thing about them is that you get a little break from all the scheming and internal processing you have to do during the regular story, because whenever an actor gets anywhere near a door in a story, the CF person and CS person immediately sit up in and lean forward in anticipation of the canned scene.


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