June 1 – Wrestlemania
Last night in Meisner class we got to do our physical metaphors. What is a physical metaphor? Well, we are supposed to take the essential conflict of our scene, and then translate that into something physical that we can do. In our scene, from Edward Albee’s The Marriage Play, I want to keep my husband of 30 years from leaving me, and he wants to get understanding from me as to why he needs to leave.
So my challenge was to tie him up with a sheet, thereby keeping him from leaving. His goal was to get an item (a sock) that I had hidden on my body somewhere (not on my foot that would be too obvious), and then get out of the door. To add to the difficulty, I had to stay sitting on a mattress while doing this.
We had to do this while saying our lines. To help us out, we each had “shadows”, people who would feed us our lines, in little phrase bits. We both were pretty much off book, so this was something just to help us out, because in the struggling you can forget where you are in the text. We also had a selection of spotters that were around us to make sure we didn’t run into poles, or furniture, or other people.
I don’t know how long it actually was, but it felt like an eternity. Guessing on how long it was for the other people I’d say it was about 10 minutes. Try wrestling with someone for ten minutes, it’s exhausting. I was wearing a pair of cargo capris with lots of pockets. I stashed the sock in the lowest pocket on my right leg, right about knee level. I folded it flat as possible, so it wouldn’t be noticeable.
We started out energetically. I tried slinging the shet over him and getting it wrapped around his arms. He kept searching me. He didn’t go for the lower pockets, tried sticking his hands in my upper pockets and back pockets. I kept trying to wrap his arms up, or get the sheet around him, and of course do his task, he kept having to break free of my attempts. This worked in my favor, at least for a while, because he couldn’t search while he was trying to free himself.
Eventually though, he found out where the sock was. Then my game plan changed from trying to wrap him up, to keep him from getting the sock. I twisted and turned so he couldn’t reach the pocket, rolling one way and another, but eventually he got it. Then he tried to leave, so now my job became to hold on to him and not let him go. I’m supposed to stay sitting on the mattress, but he is stronger than me, so eventually he pulled me off, but I wouldn’t let go.
He was on his butt, dragging himself across the floor, pushing with his legs. I was holding on with a death grip to his pants (each hand located dangerously close to either side of his crotch), on my stomach, as he dragged me along with him. I wanted to let go, and get a better grip, but I knew if I did that he would spring away, and the way I was laying I wouldn’t be able to get him fast enough before he got out the door.
So we inched along across the floor, with our entourage of shadows and spotters. Frantically saying our lines, until finally… finally, Robin came over and told us to stop, when we were about five feet from the door. We lay there in an exhausted heap, sweaty and out of breath.
Fun you ask? Yes, but it also had the desperation of the scene, especially at the end. I couldn’t do much but hang on and hope that he wouldn’t leave. He interestingly said, that at that point he was hoping I would do more to keep him from leaving. Interesting when you think about it. A husband who wants to leave, and wants his wife’s blessing as it were, but also wants her to fight to keep him more than she is.
I also got in touch with the desperation that my character has. That was important for me, because I hadn’t been able to get in touch with that much, just on an intellectual level. Also, interesting was that the fighting was fun. In the play, the husband and wife snipe and verbally jab at each other. I think this, in better times for them, is how they have fun and connect, how they challenge and stimulate each other. That came out in the wrestling
So very productive, if exhausting. I burned a lot of calories. I was saying, who needs aerobics, and Tae Bo, and ab machines. Find someone and wrestle them for ten to fifteen minutes. You’ll get a great workout, and you might learn some interesting things about your relationship.