Nov 6 – Reality check.

This weekend went by relatively uneventfully. Stage Combat was more of the same. We reviewed the sword work and punches we had learned, and then added a few techniques.

For the unarmed part we actually started hitting each other with body contact blows. We learned that it is important to aim for the meaty parts of the body. Also we did a trick where as you hit someone, and your hand makes contact; you open your hand to make a flat surface, thereby spreading out the force, and as you pull away return the hand to its previous shape (generally a fist). This way you don’t hurt the person. Much. It stings a bit, but nothing you can’t handle, although I wouldn’t want them to do it 20 times in a row in the same spot.

For the swords we worked on thrusting now as well as cutting, and we learned the blocks, parries, and binds for the different targets. It’s fun, but my arm was sure tired by the end of class.

For clown we got a bit of a break. George was sick, so Brenna (his assistant) got to take over. She was not nearly as mean to us. The other clowns didn’t get to have their naming ceremony yet, as that is George’s bag. What we did work on was embodying the elements. You know the ones: Earth, Air, Fire, Water.

We did Water first. Laying on the floor we imagined that our bodies were full of water sloshing around very gently, just on the inside of the body. Then we increased the sloshing of the water in our bodies until it caused our bodies to move. We kept going until the force of our sloshing water got us up on our feet. Standing and sloshing in place for a bit we added the vocal sound of our particular water. Then we allowed the water to slosh us around the room. Here we were in our elemental form moving around the room as Water. Then slowly we added Human back in bit by bit until we were 90% human and 10% water.

What can I say? It’s acting class.

We did Fire after that. Apparently we are going to save Earth and Air for the next class. Then it was on to Clown Emotional Competition, which I beleive I described before here. I won my bout. As part of the exercise I had to make the losing clown do something. I demanded she give me her pet frog she kept in her pocket. She started crying and then I felt bad. I mean my clown felt bad. Well, we both felt bad, which is an interesting phenomena.

Here I am having an emotional response to a clown who is crying because I want her frog. There is such a schizophrenic set of realities superimposed here. A: two actors, B: Two clowns. C: the fuzzy middle ground where A and B meet.

My actor reality is that I have to go up and emote more than the other clown, so I can keep the audience’s attention so I can win, which I did. Job done. Actor would go sit back down, be moderately humble (at least on the outside). No humiliating the other actor. We save that for George.

Clown reality is that my clown won. Wahoo! Now I demand a prize from the loser. I see the frog. I can tell it is important to the clown. It must be valuable. Mine! I stretch out my hand to claim my prize. Gloating all the way. Mine!!

But then the clown starts crying. It’s her best friend, she can’t part with it. She is so sad. She doesn’t know what to do. She looks around for help, but I hold out my hand again. More sadness, she sinks down to her knees, cradling her beloved frog. I feel bad.

But who feels bad? Is it my clown that feels bad, or me that feels bad? Both? And how bad does the other clown feel? Her sadness seems genuine; she doesn’t want to part with her frog, and the reality is that I am going to the frog back to her in 30 seconds when we get backstage. So she has to make the loss of the frog real for her, which means both of us have to make this absurd situation real.

One of the definitions we keep hearing for acting is, “reacting truthfully in imaginary circumstances.” I can see where this is true, where you have to act as if whatever happening is “real”, but when you stop to think about it…it’s weird.


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