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Martin Challis
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may 2007

Scenestation - An Invitation

In The Name of Research

The need for Scenestation emerged from and is located in my artistic practice. As an actor trainer I have specific needs when developing actors at certain points in their training through the use of script. Script based training takes up a significant part of an overall program. Actors expand their repertoire through the use of script. One of the key reasons for this is that script enables actors to go beyond themselves in terms of their immediate world.

This world can be illustrated as a circle of familiarity and habituality. Inside this circle is a world that in most parts "I" think I can control. Within it lives my worldview, the way I see myself, my habitual ways of thinking, my patterns of behaviour and the relationships I choose. An actor's job is to expand this circle.

To go beyond or expand the circle the actor does two things: firstly, she identifies and works to let go limitations of habit and the comfort of the familiar; secondly, she seeks ways and means to expand her circle of experience. In many ways acting is experiencing and working through script is one of the tools an actor uses to create experiences that expand the circle.

To find appropriate scripts for my students I turn to established texts written for television, film and theatre. Over the years I acquire a selection of favourites for use in class, scene work and in production. While these scenes are very useful and representative of the scripts actors use in professional life I am often having to make certain compromises to make a scene fit the needs of the student, the class or the purpose for which the scene is being used.

To that end I wondered what might exist in web based print form that I could access to find specific scripts that would more accurately meet my needs as a teacher. I wanted something that would talk to me in these terms. I wanted to be able to search for scripts that would offer a variety of subjects, character choices and age and gender range that I could choose for specific students with a specific purpose in mind. At the initial time of searching I did not find anything.  Since developing Scenestation I am aware of other sights emerging, but to date there are none that are offering purpose written scripts.

For me, a purpose written script has to fill certain criteria. I need to clarify at this point that I am now referring to scenes not monologues. Monologues perform an entirely different function in an actor's training to scenes. The criteria for a scene is that the scene should:

    be reasonably equal for both actors

    offer characters that are within the scope of the student's range and at the same time move them beyond the circle referred to above

    have a clear beginning, middle and end

    offer turning points, reveals or surprises which will ask the actor to deal with change and unpredictability

    offer characters that possess a depth of complexity

    allow the teacher/director to use the scene to target specific areas the student needs to develop, for example:

      handling certain emotions

      deepening an ability to sustain inner monologue

      developing spontaneity and listening

    challenge the emotional, vocal and physical range of the student and at the same time be within the capacity of the student

    take them outside their current worldview

    be editable without losing integrity

As I found nothing that could deliver purpose written scenes or talk about them the way I wanted I decided to set about creating a web based site, which ultimately became Scenestation. I imagined how it would work, what sort of information I would need to be able to access to help me select the scene and the length and structure of each scene. There needed to be enough of a selection to cover the range of genders and ages of my students and I needed to be able to choose between drama and comedy or a blend of either one. I wanted to be able to get a snapshot of the scene and if it interested me, I wanted a clear means of drilling down and exploring how the scene might function.

Since creating Scenestation with and through partnerships with a scriptwriter and web and database designers I have been able to use the site as I had imagined. I can now search for a script with a specific student or students in mind. I have applied many of the scenes myself in class and in production. The site has been available on the web for 8 months or more and in that time has been accessed by a range of people worldwide.

As a reader of Scene4 I would like to invite you to use Scenestation and in return would very much appreciate your feedback on any aspect. Simply email me at and I will set up access for you. There is no cost associated with this and access will be open for one month from the day of access.

After using Scenestation if you could address these key questions and return an email this would also be very much appreciated.

As an Actor Trainer:
1. How does the site help you as an acting teacher?
2. How does the collection of purpose-written scenes help you deliver      specific material to your students?
3. How do the comments around the scenes help you as an acting teacher and your students?
4. How does Scenestation meet the claims that have been stated above?


As an Actor:
1. How does the site help you as an actor?
2. How does the collection of purpose-written scenes help you choose      specific material to meet your needs?
3. How do the comments around the scenes help you select a scene?
4. How does Scenestation meet the claims that have been stated above?

I look forward to hearing from you, as an actor or a teacher.

Please note: The initial set of scenes in Scenestation uses contemporary language and does not yet include a range of texts from specific genres or periods.

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About This Article

©2007 Martin Challis
©2007 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Martin Challis is an actor and director in Australia. He recently commenced a coursework Doctorate in Creative Industries developing projects such as The Raw Theatre and Training Company. He's also the director of the Studio For Actors and Ensemble Works.
For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.
Read his Blog,


Scene4 Magazine-International Magazine of Arts and Media

may 2007

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