Playwriting teacher Peter Littlefield had the class do an exercise. First, we each drew pictures of two different people on two pieces of paper and decorated them a little (stick figures were OK). Then we shuffled the pictures, and we each pulled out two that were not our own, invented names for the characters, and wrote the names on the papers. Then we shuffled them again and chose two other drawings. About these two final characters, we each wrote a little scene, read it aloud, and discussed.
It was almost like an inkblot test, because the stories we saw in these crude drawings came from inside us. People were very supportive of one another’s writing efforts, some of which entailed far-out themes, and the teacher pointed to what was unique about our voices and what aspects he himself found most intriguing.
The previous weekend I had had time to write a short monologue about someone I know, a rather obsessive person with whom I had recently had a strange conversation. I wanted to capture the bubbly surface and the sadness beneath. What was really nice was that everyone in the class totally got what I was doing.
We also did a Meisner acting exercise, which involved one person saying the same word over and over as another person repeats the word in between as if responding. I have just wasted a lot of time trying to find a good example of this Meisner exercise on YouTube. Although there was a lot of blah-blah-blah about Sanford Meisner and “the Group,” I think I better ask my class to make its own video. It would fill a YouTube vacuum for sure.
Instead, I am showing you, by means of the photo below, that the theater bug runs in our family. This is John as Grumpy in 1983 (lower right, green shirt).
And sometime you should ask Suzanne to sing “Turn Back, Oh, Man” from her performance in Godspell as a teenager.