Transitional Techniques

Duo Interpretation offers distinct trials when developing blocking for a piece. Because Duo does not allow any direct interaction (eye or physical contact) and often is a series of individual scenes pieced together to form a narrative, creating crafty transitions that adhere to rules while moving in and out of scenes is a necessity. In the following essay, suggestions for transitions will be discussed so a Duo can transform transitions from obligatory into magnificent.

Transitions Should Suit the Piece

There is nothing quite worse than becoming engrossed within a scene from Duo only to be forcibly exiled because of a lousy transition. (To be more precise, a transition that does not quite fit the tone established by the Duo piece.) For example, if a Duo is dramatic in nature then employment of a transitional sound might not be fully appropriate unless it keeps with the atmosphere of the work. Even so, a repetitive sound for a heavy Duo could border on tacky or contrived. Be careful with transitions. They are not unimportant aspects to a piece. Actually, as transitions are a noticeable shift from one scene to another, they should melt and work to enhance a piece.

The Transitional Connection

A transition could just be an indicator that a new scene has started, or it can cleverly tie together the current and subsequent scenes. Any form of having a transition echo or prelude an action or noise from either scene is a piece specific method to make a unique transition. This does not have to be done for every transition (this might devote too much time into figuring out a couple seconds worth of transition). However, having at least one stellar transition that leaves audiences in wonder is one way to leave a lasting impression. Further, it is often helpful to think of transitions as a set-up to the following scene. If any specific blocking is needed at the start of the scene, establish a transition than can place competitors into the positions and marks (placement) they need to be. Sometimes thinking of what is necessary is better than thinking of what would be cool. This might make the easiest transition more apparent and then can be transformed into something spectacular.


Hardly anything ever works on the first attempt. A tried transition might be the start to what could be a flawless choice after tweaking and practice. Therefore, try as many transition types, or even create something new and specific for this particular piece, to discover one which works with the piece. By not continually thinking, evaluating, and striving for something better a Duo might be causing a premature plateau.


There are some Duos who prefer to use a specific noise or song snippet with a motion as their trigger for a transition. Something as simple as doing a slight spin accompanied with a sound might be the only transitions throughout the entire piece (slight variations may occur). The use of repetitive sound can be a great comedic effect for a humorous Duo. The noise can either be neutral to the piece, or more appropriately reminiscent of tone/references noise/etc. of the piece. Even varying a standard transition noise can add humor. For more serious pieces, using a sound for a specific transition can have a significant emotional impact. Such as singing an excerpt from Amazing Grace to transition to a funeral scene which references that song. Even doing something as basic as mimicking a thunderstorm for a transition into a scene that takes place in a storm can be interesting.

Turning (Reacquainting Oneself With the Audience)

An easy way for an actor to become “invisible” on stage is the keep their back facing the audience, stay still, and be placed upstage. The same principle applies to Duo. When a performer has their back to the audience, and the other is in control of a scene, the one turned away from the audience is somewhat “invisible” as well. At least in that if they were to turn towards the audience to begin a new scene that that would be an acceptable transition. Turns are a clear indicator of a new scene. They can be done in unison or broken between partners. When broken the transition can play into the blocking of the new scene. For instance, if a scene involves one actor, then one partner can turn into the scene and the other turn out (back to the audience). While one actor speaks to the audience the person turned away can become backup--make sound effects, silhouettes of action being described, even pop back in for a brief word/joke. Duos can become very creative with turning transitions and use them to add creativity to a scene.


While similar to turning around/not facing the audience, upstaging is different for one thing--one performer literally upstages another. Thus, turning/back to audience means roughly a side-to-side presentation (even when using levels of upstage and downstage are present) and upstaging is simply upstaging. This transition and consequent blocking tool is creative for the fact it can “reveal” the actor being upstaged at necessary moments in the script. For example, if a sudden scare is required an easy way to achieve this is to transition into an upstaging position, have the one actor deliver their lines (person being upstaged providing any wanted sound effects or slight movement to build suspense), and then at the scare the upstaged can spring forth to “reveal” themselves and enter the scene fully.

Need for Speed

When time is vital to a scene or can be played for comedic effect, then manipulating the speed of a transition could be impressive. The slowing down or speeding up of a transition can set the mood for the following scene. If a scene is hyper, perhaps transition in double time. Inversely, a lazy scene can be set with a slow transition. Or speed can be used for misdirection and comedy. For example, if in the current scene the characters state something needs to happen immediately a fast transition could be performed only to have the characters freeze and be caught at a dead-end or obstacle slowing them down.

“Basic” Pops

Transitions can be as basic as a standard Humorous/Dramatic Interpretation pop--a noticeable shift between characters, or in this case even situations. Changes should be dynamic so audiences are certain that a transition happened. Performers could even throw in extra movements as they pop. For instance, a piece centered around time could, theoretically, include performers using their arms like the hands of a clock while they transition into the next scene’s positions/blocking. Toss in a sound effect, maybe a TARDIS effect if this time traveling piece is inspired by Doctor Who, and competitors have a simple yet effective transition.

Transitions can be nearly anything competitors dream. (Nearly is used because transitions have to be physically possible and relatively swift.) Thinking creatively and developing efficient while unique transitions is a surefire way to help a Duo piece gain notoriety. Whether deciding to conceive specific, challenging, attention-grabbing transitions or ones that accomplish the goal of announcing a new scene, all transitions are to be clean and a means to lead the audience along on a story. Because that is what transitions eventually are: tools for storytelling. So do not throw transitions aside because that might equate to tossing the audience out of the performance.