I've run across this phrase a couple of times recently, and was curious about its origins. I would specifically like to know:
- In what context did the phrase originally arise?
- Exactly what did it originally mean?
Today, it seems to be used in various contexts; sometimes it literally means "and the scene ends there" (for example in television synopses). It can be used slightly more figuratively to mark the end of a hypothetical situation. It is also used to punctuate a story or joke, to signal both "I am done speaking/acting" and "you should stop speaking/acting now," and with other idiosyncratic implications.
It can be written plainly: And scene; or with ellipsis: And...scene; or with a bunch of extra a's: Aaaand scene (this one is easiest to search for on the web, four a's being the most popular spelling). All of these may take an exclamation mark or period/full stop. Both the And... and Aaaand versions appear to be approximating an extended drawing-out of the first vowel when the phrase is spoken. I think in all cases the emphasis in the spoken phrase would be on the first word.
I had a vague impression of a couple of different potential origins, and have found some support for both, but nothing definitive. Below are a couple of possible theories, and some of what I've found in support of each.
Theory 1: Theatre
A director or acting teacher would use the line to cut off a scene that has either reached a natural conclusion or that is rambling unproductively.
There's a fair amount of discussion about the use of this phrase in auditions and such (often combined with confusion over whether it's "and scene" or "end scene"); lots of opinions about where it comes from, but nothing definitive. The only real consensus seems to be that it's annoying/amateurish for actors to use it to end their own scenes, but it happens. See here, here, here etc.
Theory 2: Cinema
A screenwriter, pitching a script, starts with "We open on..." and finishes with "And scene." Could also be a director describing a film.
A recent short film about three scriptwriters trying to come up with a pitch was titled And Scene! There is also an online "book club, but for films" titled And Scene. Examples of the "We open on . . . And scene!" template definitely exist, as in this description of a commercial and this episode synopsis. Also, I'm not sure I can quantify it, but the un-ironic uses of the phrase seem to be more often of the "describing a cinematic-type scene" variety than the "ending a live-action performance" variety. Similarly, the Hollywood users don't seem to Andy about whether it should really be end scene.
It could be that the phrase is used in both contexts, but I'm specifically wondering about how it got started. Of course theatre is older than cinema, so one might expect that the term originated in the older medium and was adopted into the newer, but I'm not convinced that's the case.
Note that I'm not suggesting these two theories are the only possibilities; perhaps it is something similar, like film directors originally said it to mean "cut" or acting teachers used it to set up a scene rather than to end one, or it could be something else entirely.