Apr 9 – Imagine that.
Boy it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. In fact a whole quarter of Meisner went by. So now I feel forced to sum it up, so we can move on to the third quarter, and I can start talking about that. It might take a few posts, but I’ll get there.
The focus of the second quarter of the Meisner track at Freehold is developing the “instrument.” That’s the actor’s body and mind to put it into layman’s terms. The point (as I see it anyway) is to disassemble our cultural programming enough to act/react spontaneously to the imaginary circumstances in which we find ourselves during a play or film.
Sounds kind of high-falutin, but really it’s about teaching adults to play make believe after such frivolous time-wasting abilites were crushed out of us by the monolithic weight of our western European, Protestant, technology riddled 21st century adult responsibilities.
Things that came naturally to us as children do not come naturally as an adult. We may be able to drive and shop online, but kids have us beat in the imagination department.
I can remember spending hours playing on the jungle gym, that was really a rocket ship, trying not to touch the hot lava playground sand. Or running through our neighborhood playing Charlie’s Angles (the original 70’s show – I’m old), fighting over who got to play which Angel. For the record I didn’t fight; I was always Sabrina; she was the smart one, but my friends fought like cats and dogs over who got to be Jill (Farah). The loser had to be Kelly.
So what did we do in the first part of the second quarter of Meisner? We imagined things. We daydreamed. Sounds easy? It’s not. It’s easy to daydream when you are just drifting through your day, trying to escape from your tedious job by having some fun in your head.
Maybe you are rescuing kittens from a burning building and become the town hero, or maybe it’s imagining what you are going to say to someone in some confrontational conversation you are planning having. We slip in and out all day, but suddenly someone says, you need to imagine and you need to do it now. Then the clamps clamp down and the gears screech to a halt.
Daydreaming is controlled by our subconscious, and because of that we don’t tend to have much control over it, which is actually what makes daydreaming useful. Our subconscious minds, if given free reign, will take us to interesting places, that our conscious mind, so worried about trying to not make a fool out of itself, won’t. Perhaps because it is afraid, or mostly because it doesn’t even occur to it to go there in the first place.
So one of the first exercises that we did in class was to daydream. You had to get up in front of the class, lie on one of the questionable Freehold mattresses, and daydream, while the rest of the class watched. Yes, that’s what we did. Imagine a room of adults sitting in rows of folding metal chairs, watching someone lying on mattress with their eyes closed daydreaming.
The funny thing was it was interesting. In my experience, I was too aware in the beginning to really day dream, but as I laid there long enough, things started percolating. When you’d watch other people you could see emotions flit across their faces. That was interesting. They probably didn’t even know it was happening, but it was happening, and it was interesting.
So the first step was taken, lying down.