I am now two Meisner classes further in my training and things are improving. Still, I have a long way to go. I personally think I had a breakthrough as soon as we moved on from sitting to standing. Apparently, all of the power posing I did back in London has now made me grounded and comfortable when standing. I was also a lot better when I felt like my partner was more nervous than I was, because I focused on calming her nerves and forgot about my own. As they say, the most important person on the stage is your scene partner. And the best way to deal with nerves is to concentrate (and make everyone else concentrate) on that other person.
I am also really trying to not let my nervousness/shyness get me in my head. Connecting with another person in these exercises when I don’t know them kind of makes me want to retreat and deflect, but I am trying to just own it and use it instead.
My two favorite moments were oddly enough when one sentence lasted a very long time. The first time, Suzanna was my partner J and we were doing the Knock on the Door activity. Suzanna had to comment on how I knocked when I came in, and we just rolled with that for maybe 15 minutes. I didn’t think we were allowed to change it, and Suzanna either thought the same or never felt the need to change it, so we just found ways to communicate using those same words over and over again. It was amazing because I think I really got the exercise, and because I got to work with Suzanna!
The second moment was this weekend, when we were told not to smile for the next 3 minutes. I may have a tendency to smile, that gets my partner to smile too. We started off, but maybe a minute in (probably less) my partner smiled, so I changed the repetition to comment on that. Her smile got me to smile, but when she used an expletive over the fact that she was smiling when she wasn’t supposed to, I chose to repeat it as our new repetition. I have been told I am too nice in these repetition exercises, and I don’t ever swear in my every day life, so it was more about me deciding to go for it, to use the words that don’t necessarily scare me, but definitely aren’t really nice and make me nervous. I am not sure if it was the words or the standing or simply my partner, but I had so much fun, and I feel like we really connected and played off each other.
At the end of the last class, our teacher told me I was really present and listening when I am up there, which I took as a huge compliment, because it’s one of the most important things to strive for in acting (and in life). However, he also said that he can’t tell how I feel about what I’m saying, which is an issue. Especially in repetition exercises, which can get incredibly boring if you don’t get to see an entire conversation play out within the same lines. Currently I am focusing on focusing on my partner, so I will have to find a way to incorporate that into having actual thoughts and opinions about what I’m saying.
“I’m too self-deprecating. When I’m speaking I sometimes start quieting my voice and mumbling because I don’t feel I’m worth being heard. And the truth is, that’s bullshit.”
This quote from an interview is so powerful for me. First because I so often do that. Less now, but it is still an issue. And it is really comforting to have someone else own up to it as well. Second, because it is bullshit. I am worth being heard. I am more than enough.