Class three with just one more to go in the series I purchased. Because I’ve been taking the Sunday double session classes rather than the twice a week evening classes, the lessons have gone by quickly. I’m actually considering spending my own money to continue through next month – six classes, or in my case three double Sundays, rather than the usual four. Why would I continue? That’s what I’ve been asking myself. It’s not as if I’m lacking for things to do with my weekends. Could it be that I’m enjoying it too much? I’m afraid that somewhere deep down in my psyche, I imagine myself actually being an actor. Talk about crazy! I believe I need to nip this in the bud and let the next class be my last. Will I be brave enough to announce my departure and withstand the inevitable pitch to keep going or will I slink away wordlessly then cowardly drop out in a phone call or worse yet, an email?
As much as I find the classes and the exercises interesting, I feel they’ve done more to inform my writing than my public speaking. My original intent, and the reason the company agreed to pay for these classes, was to improve my presentation abilities. The exercises are focused on teaching me how to dissolve myself into a character and how to really be that character. What I’m skeptical about is the efficacy of having a “character” do a presentation – I think that to be effective, the presenter needs to be me, a me who is comfortable being stared at and judged by a group of executives.
This week did not, thankfully, involve any “encounters with strangers.” Three weeks in a row of that and I’d start to feel like a Dementor sucking away people’s characters rather than their souls. We did, as we’d done previously, work on character cards after some warm up exercises which involved imagining an object, then creating that object with hand movements in sufficient detail that you could convey it to another person. I, who have always sucked at pantomime, didn’t fail too terribly. Only once did I hand off my object to someone who gave me a completely blank stare then proceeded to wear my pillow as a cape – oh well. I took possession of a sword, a cup of coffee or it might have been tea, and two other things which I have absolutely no recollection of! Perhaps that’s a good thing – if I can blame my lack of recall on having been so in the moment. I can readily recall that others in my group conveyed hoola-hoops, canes, leaf blowers and a vacuum.
Following the character cards, I was given some solo work on conveying emotions – first with just my body and then just with vocalizations. I was sooooo thankful for being alone in the room – I don’t think I could have allowed myself to grunt and laugh and wheeze with another human being within earshot. Quite unexpectedly my happy sound resembled nothing so much as Mickey Mouse’s voice – a kind of high nasally sound.
Following that we did some more of my favorite work – the studious side of the program – character studies. I was given scenes from two plays and one screenplay and had to write about that character’s view of himself, the world, etc. Give me a pen and I’m ready to go to town!
We ended class with a scene. I’m embarrassed to admit that I hogged the scene my group did and I swore that if I was given another chance I’d sit back and let my character be the quiet, thoughtful one for a change but lo and behold for the final scene I was the only one still sitting in the audience – I guess the instructors noticed my faux pas. Fortunately I have one more Sunday to make up for it. Until then!