This week, we continued our exploration of sensory memory and imagination. Our first task was to receive a number of small gifts that our partner gives us. The partner chooses the size of the gift whilst the recipient chooses what is in the package relative to the size and react excitedly. The gifts ranged from items such as a Grand Piano, a laptop to a Baby Elephant. What does this have to do with acting you may ask? Well, it is simple. We’re utilising imagination, reacting to certain circumstances and doing so opposite another individual, isn’t that what we do in a scene when acting? I found it more difficult than I anticipated to create an item which corresponded to the size of the package which in turn affected my reaction and how authentic it became.
Using the space, we then took a walk in a park. Using our imagination we felt the harshness of the ground, the softness of the grass. The feeling of the rain upon our heads and the sun beating down. Using sensory memory, it was a relatively easy environment to picture and inhabit, though I identified more with the second scenario which was a stressful day trying to get to an interview (waking late, missing the bus etc) which perhaps says more about how I live my life day to day – perhaps I should take more time to enjoy the simple moments? The final scenario of this process was on a beach which became more and more abstract subsequently requiring more focus and attention to each detail given. We floated in the air and sank into the ocean before emerging to write a letter to someone important.
There was no time to think of who that person would be, so it was an entirely truthful decision which for many was quite personal. Mine was no different, writing to a former flat mate which the relationship ended extremely badly. I found the second half of this exercise (and indeed, all of it) almost cathartic in a way, as we were required to receive a response and share it aloud. We spent a lot of time sharing things that were perhaps extremely intimate to each individual, nothing more so than sharing personal fears. Mine, was something I hadn’t shared for a long time but alas, I was happy and comfortable to do so – many years ago, on the way to the cinema I was randomly attacked. I managed to get away but, whilst the police knew who the guy was, they couldn’t catch him before he attacked another, older man who died as a result. I don’t share that lightly and the fear I shared was the fear I had not for myself, but for the man’s family, having to endure that pain.
throughout the exercise, we recognised the changes in body language that each of us demonstrated subsequently enforcing how the internal can shape the external.
Finally, we got our hands on some text. Working with a partner, we looked at ‘Someone to Look Over Me’ – a play written by Irish dramatist Frank McGuinness. The play focuses on the trials and tribulations of an Irishman, an Englishman and an American who are kidnapped and held hostage by unseen Arabs in Lebanon.
We read the scene, with no knowledge of the situation or the characters but we did receive certain instructions which changed the performance. Both external changes and internal created new ways to explore each line and those things, which would be discussed in the creative process, can shape a scene in many different ways (even by simply changing the temperature of the room).
I was extremely impressed with my scene partner, whilst only 17 she brought an age and gravitas to a character who is much older and for that she is to be commended.
Thus concluded another week. I was very happy with this session, I felt I demonstrated some skill within the scene but could perhaps work on maintaining focus on the internal exercises and keeping in the moment, trying not to anticipate what is coming next before it does.
Interested in Someone to Look Over Me? Purchase it here. It’s a really interesting read.