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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Free, Creative Circle

Rehearsals started for the new play I'm in at school this week. Let me be clear on something - I've rehearsed a lot in my life. Let me be clear on something else as well - I've never rehearsed the way our director, Mr. Knott (The Knottster), has us rehearsing.

He sits us in a circle, all of us - himself included. We look at each other for a moment and then he tells us to start reading a particular scene. And we do. Then we stop and he starts to ask us questions. We run through each and every tiny thought our characters have. We talk about emotions, what happend to them when they were four, who they love, who they wish they had an affair with, and a thousand other speculations we create on our own. Nothing is too out of the box. We create it, he okays it, we act with it.

What's funny about this question and answer, group reading technique is that it works better than any I've ever seen. We sat in amazement today as we read the same scene three times and, each time, the conversations we had inbetween led us to a piece of acting miles ahead of the read-through before. How does that happen?

I came home thinking about that. Wondering about it. We've all decided Mr. Knott's a wizard, so it's entirely possible we're just under a creative spell or he spiked our Arizona Iced Teas with an alchemical transformative of his own mysterious design. But I think I actually figured out the trick:

Mr. Knott gives us creative freedom.

Inside that circle, everything is real, potent, powerful, and absolutely free of pressure. Sometimes he tells us to repeat a line until we feel like we should move on. What we feel matters. What we want to express matters. That circle is sparking with the combination of a thousand brilliant character insights and creative back-stories, and we're free to make them up and throw them out there.

Verizon Wireless recently aired an ad that had a group of women and girls speaking the following lines:
Air has no prejuidice. It does not carry the opinons of a man faster than
those of a woman. It does not filter out an idea because I'm sixteen and not
thirty. Air is unaware if I'm black or white, and wouldn't care if it knew.
it stands to reason my ideas will be powerful if they are wise,
infectious, if
they are worthy. If my thoughts have flawless delivery, I
lead the army that
will follow.

Though the commercial was widely criticized, I loved it. I agreed with everything it said. And I'm willing to bet Mr. Knott would too. Here's why: Inside of that circle, that magical, dramatic circle, Mr. Knott creates nothing more than air. There are no stigmas, there are no expectations. This is what we do - we act. Nothing more. No fear, no embarassment. Just talent.

Imagine if we ran out world that way. What would it be like if the whole world was just air? If we didn't discriminate, dissapoint, or let down? What if we made everywhere, everything, everyone a free, creative circle for artistic expression. Imagine what we'd learn.

Imagine how our coffee would taste.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.