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The Big Cut

After finding a piece that fits you, the next step is to read through the script critically at least twice. At that point you will have a better understanding of what every scene actually contributes to your script, what is necessary for the storyline to be understood, and thus what scenes are going to be in your final selection. Once you have this understanding, ask yourself what the heart of the piece is and try to build your cutting with that idea in mind. Some scripts could have multiple storylines to follow, so make sure you choose the one that speaks to you! 

When you begin to actually start cutting, start big and go smaller. Start off by cutting big portions of the script. In our first cutting, you’ll find we just slashed through large portions of the script we didn’t plan to use with a pen. 

Narrowing In

After you have cut major scenes that are not needed, narrow your focus and take another read to evaluate smaller portions of scenes, then specific lines, words, etc. You’ll notice in our second cut, we also took notes on blocking or any other ideas that came to mind. 

Striking a Balance

It is also important to think about which character(s) each partner will be playing and make sure to draw that balance of dialogue while you envision scenes. Because this event is a partner event, it is important that both partners get pretty equal representation in the piece. You don’t have to actually measure this out, but try to feel it out and make sure each person is doing their share so that it doesn’t feel one sided. This doesn’t have to necessarily be through dialogue either. Sometimes the balance will come through movement as well. For example, in our piece, Ethan physically became the fiberoptic unicorn while Tyler described it. 

We also took time to consider how each person could showcase their versatility in characters by thinking about it in terms of two performers. Performer 1 would be Louis, Grandma Jacobs, and Emily (the mom). Performer 2 would be Kelly, George (the dad) and Caroline. This way both people would be the same amount of characters, and also about the same amount of male/female ratio. It is important (especially for same-sex Duos) that you consider who will be playing males or females because you don’t want it to seem like one performer plays all of the male characters and one plays all the females. Of course, this is a judgment call, but in our experience, it is fun to push yourself to play characters that are way out of your comfort zone!

Typing It Up

After these initial cuttings, type up your script and make this your home base document. Typing not only makes the script easily transferable, but it also helped us a lot in the early stages of memorization. Typing also helps you consider every single word that you’re using and how important it is. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to make those tiny word-by-word cuts. Even if your script is already typed somewhere, we would recommend typing it yourself! It will be time consuming and long, but after you have this initial cutting typed, it will make the rest of the cutting process much easier.

As you are typing, think about those character pairings. Will the dialogue work with the two performers volleying back and forth, or will more rearrangement be needed? There should be a flow of each performer speaking, and if you need a performer to rapidly change characters, this could also inform your blocking. To keep things simple, we tried to keep the scenes separated by characters. Kelly and Louis, Louis and Carolyn, Mom and Dad and Grandma Jacobs. When the characters were grouped together in a larger scene, we could make sure that character was not talking back to back so there could be transitions. A good example of this would be during the scene where the family is cleaning the house in preparation for Grandma Jacobs coming for Christmas. Ethan had a very fast pop between George speaking and then Kelly speaking. To make sure this worked, we put an Emily line for Tyler in the middle of those two so Ethan could pop as Tyler crossed in front of him. You won’t see this in early iterations of our scripts; it was a late addition just before Nationals. 

The balance of speaking not only comes for the entire piece, but also scene by scene. For example, you’ll notice in our first cutting that we tried to make sure certain pairings of characters would always speak at similar times so that we could make the flow and transitions smoother. 

Read the comments to follow our script’s journey from the first typed version all the way through major performances at NCFL and the National Tournament.