You don't have to knock

Too many Neuf scenes have people knocking on doors.

- One player starts an object work
- *Knock-knock* at the door
- (opens door) “Oh it’s you!” (hugs)
- They play the scene for a bit.
- *Knock-knock* at the door
- (opens door)
- “Hi, I’m the walk-on”.

This is too nice.

Two pieces of advice: (1) be in the room, and (2) you don't have to knock.

Be in the room

The problem with this initiation is, it makes it difficult to start in the middle. I prefer a scene start with 2 players being in the room, in the middle of something. Here’s a typical example:

- (defusing a bomb) …and that’s the blue wire down.
- Hmm. The clock is still ticking.
- This is too difficult for me!
- Dammit, Ben, you never failed us in the academy, you’re not gonna fail us now!

Here’s an awkward way to start a scene:

- (defusing a bomb)
- “Knock-knock”
- (opens door) Ah, thank God you’re here. I was about to start.

Most scenes will have at least 2 players at some point, so let’s be in the room already.

Go in without knocking

“Knock-knock” is, literally, asking for permission to be in the scene; 99% of the time, the answer is yes. As the walk-on, you have made the choice to enter when you step forward; you don’t need to run that decision by other players. You control the timing of your walk-on, not the scene players. They would rather finish their lines before answering a door, and you can miss a crucial moment.

The reason to knock, you say, is for reality of the scene: it's odd to enter without warning? Is it? This is true for strangers, which reflects on your character choice as walk-on. Instead, be someone who has the permission to open that door. Be the husband that arrives home, be the flatmate popping out of his room into the common room. Be the office pal who is used to barge in and disrupt conversations. Your character would be more invested in the scene.

There is one role of a Knock-Knock that is useful, if overplayed: The Inspector. Let’s say it’s a scene with two chefs in a dirty restaurant and the health inspector comes to visit. Here you are giving space for the players to heighten the stakes before they answer the door.

Be in the room, part 2

I love it when a walk-on originates from inside the same room. By removing the door, a walk-on can be an invisible part of the scene that had just appeared from the sideline. You get a moment to wonder, how much did he overhear? Even better, you can appear poof in the middle of the room as if you have always been in the room. It’s powerful to see a couple arguing at the dinner table about child custody — and then discovering that the kid has been sitting at the table, silently, all that time.

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