Acting exercise – Imitate the type of person you detest most

On one occasion, I tried an exercise that Grotowski had invented. It seemed quite innocent: each person is invited to imitate the type of person he detests the most. “But there’s a catch,” said Grotowski. “You will see. The actor will reveal his own deepest nature without knowing it.” Andreas Katsulas, half American, half Greek, claimed to have a horror of religion, and he played an invaluable role in the group, for he would puncture any solemnity or pretentiousness with irresistible ridicule. For this exercise, he chose to imitate a pious young monk and walked up and down, pulling his face into a parody of a holy look. Gradually, though, the reality of the image he was illustrating outran his intention, and a deeply hidden contemplative quality in himself transformed his expression, giving to his body a luminous tranquillity that was truly his own. Actors often fear that if they lose the personality that they know, they will become bland and anonymous. This is never the case. Through the grit of hard work, it is the true individuality that appears.

Threads of Time, Peter Brook

Act your way into right thinking

I picked up an envelope that had to be hand-delivered and stalked out of the building. I was in one of thoses moods where you are so frustrated you forget where you are for long stretches of time, carrying on imaginary conversations in which you try so hard to defend or explain yourself that you even start talking out loud without realizing it. I was doing exactly that when I heard a quiet, firm voice say, “That’s a poor walk, young man.”

I stopped in my tracks. Was it in my head or did somebody actually talk to me? I turned around and saw an extremely old man wearing a black felt hat, a full-length black wool coat and black shoes polished to a mirror finish. He was standing in front of the library as if waiting for someone to pick him up. He stood ramrod-straight had his gaze fixed directly in front of him.

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