Before this conversation in class, I gave two students a new scene and ten minutes to play with it. They prepped by paying super close attention only to each other and taking their focus off of themselves. Then they just read the scene, giving it a no-pressure first pass. Both students said they felt more focused on their partner and less in their head than they usually did.
When you’ve spent hours and hours rehearsing a scene, of course you want it to be good. You want your work to pay off. But that desire for “success” can cause you to get in your own head instead of focusing on affecting your partner. I love this exercise because it takes that pressure away. Of course it won’t be “perfect” – you just got the scene in your hands for the first time – but playing with no-pressure scenes and giving yourself permission to not have all the answers, you often come into the scene with the spirit of play and can make discoveries. Plus, you get to remember what freedom in make-believe land feels like and bring that quality back in all your work.
Give it a try—pick a scene, read it over and figure out what’s going on, and maybe even throw it on tape just for fun—and let me know if you discover anything or how it goes.
CLASS CLIP TRANSCRIPTION
Sarah: I think the value in an exercise like this sometimes can be the permission that you have to not know it. And with that permission comes a certain freedom of, you know I think we can sometimes carry a lot of baggage from school and from childhood, of all this stuff of like, I’m not prepared, I didn’t work hard enough, I didn’t do enough. The, you know, shoulds. And so there’s a certain freedom sometimes in an early exploration of just, I’ve only spent ten minutes on this, maybe? So what if, so I don’t have to be anywhere with it. So there’s a certain pressure that’s taken off of, I’ve gotta show, I’ve gotta account for all this stuff that I did, to be good, to be seen, to be appreciated, to be validated, you know.
Student: Yeah. 100%.
Sarah: So just, remember what that feels like. And you were, that really slow connection. You know, it was kind of cool because I heard the end of you guys running it, reading it, and just now it sounded like a different scene.
Student: Yeah. I agree.
Sarah: It sounded like a different scene.
Student: Yeah, it wasn’t forced.
Sarah: And you were on, you were more on each other.
Student: Yeah. Yeah, I could sense that.
Sarah: Having that slow prep and taking the attention off of you.