Friday, September 11, 2015

Acting: It Ain't for Sissies

I saw an article today in the Atlantic about how people are using improv to counter anxiety. It stirred up my memories of my experience.

Some years back I saw a listing for an intro to acting class at the local community house. I wanted so badly to sign up but was too afraid. I finally made myself call the last day before the class started. Of course I was hoping it was full and I could tell myself: Well, I tried. But there was space. Dammit. I signed up and attended with equal parts dread and excitement.

It was not a comedy class but we did do a number or improv type exercises. I loved them. You had to think on your feet and use your whole self in the moment to respond to directions from the teacher: Riding on a bus, you're freezing cold, then you're sweltering hot. Another: you had to perform a routine task with the class having to be able to tell what it was (I took vegetables from the fridge and made a salad, chopping away very convincingly, I was told, I am sure because I allowed myself to get lost in the moment). 

We did characters, like a Bronx New Yorker in an act from a Shakespeare play. We each did a monologue at the end. It was terrifying but I made myself do it. I was so nervous for mine I got choked up as I did my lines, though cannot now recall what it was from. It helped with realness even though it was unintended. One woman would get a martini before class. I never did that. I didn't want to use that crutch though I kind of wanted to.

Read the story here, how improv can help reduce anxiety: