STREETCAR MUSINGS #2


I don't like to do improv. There, I said it. I'm uncomfortable, self-conscious and just all-round unhappy when I have to do it. Give me a script with set lines, dialogue and/or monologue and I'm a happy camper.

I liken it to the rollercoasters at Wonderland. I got on them for the first time not knowing what to expect. I'll never forget that first free fall and how it felt like my stomach stayed at the top of the ride while the rest of my poor body flew down. Needless to say, I avoided them like the plague. Until I had my son and suddenly he was old enough to want to go. And I wanted to share this time with him, to not be relegated to the exit waiting for him to finish riding by himself. So I bucked up and went with him. And it was as terrifying and awful as I remembered. But, I was spending time with my boy so I tried to suck it up. It's amazing how well black skin can hide the tinge of green from nausea. lol

And then a funny thing happened. One particular time I was laughing and joking with my son as we climbed the hill at the beginning of the ride. I forgot to brace for the drop. And suddenly we're plummeting and I have no time to brace myself. No time to try and strong arm my stomach or anything else.

Instead, as we plummeted , all I could do was scream. And scream. And scream some more. And in screaming I pushed thru that debilitating fear to a release of tension, relief from tension. And what I found on the other side was the fun. The sheer joy. My screams turned from shouts of fear to squeals of laughter and joy.

Tonight, in rehearsal, I discovered the principle of screaming thru the fear can lead to amazing, deeper discoveries in my character.

There is a scene in Streetcar where my character gets into an argument with her husband. The argument takes place offstage and is commented on by other characters onstage. In order to accommodate the words being spoken onstage my "husband" and I improv'd a few lines before the our scene.

My first instinct was to balk at having to improv something. And, truth be told, I didn't start the improv'd lines, that would be Yehuda (playing Steve in 'Streetcar'), but in working thru the lines with him and some amazing word association exercises suggested by Michela (Sisti) I found my "screaming" muse. So to speak. And suddenly the improv didn't feel as stilted. It actually felt good.

Don't get it twisted. I will still be uncomfortable with improv. And I will ALWAYS prefer a nicely highlighted script. HOWEVER, it's nice to know, this is something I can add to my bag of acting tricks.

Now to see about renewing my Season's Passes to Wonderland!

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