And... scene. Looking for interesting two-person scenes for acting class
September 11, 2022 5:28 AM   Subscribe

I need to find some short scenes for two people to work on in acting class and I wondered if mefites had any favourites. Especially scenes that might not crop up as the standard examples in collections of such things.

My snowflake requirements:
  • Brief: 2 or 3 minutes long
  • Two people, one of them male, middle-aged, and white (that's me)
  • Emotional is better than action-packed – and simmering, repressed emotion is always interesting
  • Can be from theatre, TV or movies
  • Bonus points for anything British English, but it's not essential
That's about it. Any favourites? As an example we had a good time working on this great scene from Kramer vs Kramer a while back, but all suggestions welcome.
posted by fabius to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Re-reading again... doesn't have to be white - colour-blind casting and all that. But given I'm white, middle-class and British, there is a limit to the roles I could appropriately play, even in an informal class.)
posted by fabius at 6:00 AM on September 11, 2022

Best answer: Some of these were written for younger actors but if you just reimagine the circumstances, they all work with any age, race, and gender.

Lost - Sawyer and Kate play a drinking game

The Office - Jim tells Pam he’s in love with her

Stranger Than Fiction - Harold brings flours for Ana
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:05 AM on September 11, 2022

Before Sunrise - Céline and Jessie call their friends (again I know they’re 20 but just re-imagine it and shift a few phrases to make them feel the right age / dialect!)

Oh! And the play Skylight is ideal too. Tons of scenes there.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:13 AM on September 11, 2022

Best answer: Firefly - Ariel Sorry for this dailymotion player. Watch from 39:00 to 42:30, your scene could start with Jayne waking up. At first I was hesitant to mention it because its sci fi but I think it is self contained enough to not require any additional knowledge. Also maybe having to sell that the other actor pushed a button and now you have minutes to live might be valuable.
posted by cali59 at 7:25 AM on September 11, 2022

British/Irishman Martin McDonough writes incredibly tense and pithy plays about relationships in families and villages where people cannot get away from each other. They often have very limited casts. I suggest The Hangman and The Cripple of Inishmaan. The Beauty Queen of Leenane may not have enough of a male part for you, but is a perfectly constructed and shocking play. If you haven't seen his plays they are spare, desperate, gutting - even doomed would not be too strong a word. They share the horrible and exquisite inevitability of the best Greek tragedies, such as Medea. Perhaps because of this they may not be performed as frequently as lighter fare.

There's also The Two-Character play by Tennessee Williams. Less of a truly successful play, but there may be scenes that fit your needs.
posted by citygirl at 7:48 AM on September 11, 2022

Best answer: Leaning into white, middle-class, middle-aged British; a scene from Temple (which was performed at the Donmar in 2015). I find myself repeating Simon Russell Beale's "You are a vain man" because that made such an impression.
posted by boudicca at 8:10 AM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Michael Clayton (2007) - "Do I look like I'm negotiating?" scene

(Note: end of the movie spoilers so don't watch unless you've seen the movie!)
posted by bluecore at 9:22 AM on September 11, 2022

The Mr. Show sketch, "The Audition" would be a very different choice. It's a three person sketch, but two of the parts could probably be condensed into a single character. My apologies if this is too far afield of your requirements.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 11:28 AM on September 11, 2022

Goodbye, Leon from Dog Day Afternoon
posted by perhapses at 3:40 PM on September 11, 2022

Best answer: Some good scenes I’ve seen mid-50/ men work on in my class recently:

The Humans, by Stephen Karam (Eric)
The Great God Pan, by Amy Herzog (Doug)
Marginal Loss, by Deborah Stein (John)
The Price, by Arthur Miller (Solomon)
Boy Gets Girl, by a Rebecca Gilman (Les)

All of these are American, but with the exception of the Miller, don’t *have* to be. Have fun!
posted by minervous at 5:12 PM on September 11, 2022

This might be a bit left field, but if you want to mix in some emotion (mostly frustration), tempo, and rapport, have you considered 'Who's On First'? You can have some fun with the structure... here's a nice 90 second version.
posted by ewan at 5:35 PM on September 11, 2022

Near the end of The Maltese Falcon movie "I won't play the sap for you."

From Babylon 5 episode 113 - Signs & Portents "What do you want?"
posted by JDC8 at 11:20 PM on September 11, 2022

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