Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Impediment work

So in the first couple months or so of class we have been performing the regular domestic or relationship exercise (refer to previous Acting entries for more info) but with different twists and turns involved. This is the start of character work, to develop characteristics about ourselves that are almost second nature.

Each week we would have a different impediment to work with, but the exercise would remain the same, the focus would be working off the partner while maintaining the impediment.

Point of view:
A partner would develop a certain point of view, something that was totally different from what they believed. They can just be outlandish ideas like it's fine having sex with another woman than your wife because you have a point of view that it's ok as long as you don't share an emotional connection with that woman. One I was going to use was cooking dog for my partner (with the idea that eating dogs is cool), but I never got to do it unfortunately. The trick is really researching that point of view to get behind it, what are the arguments for it, and how could you conceivably put yourself in the shoes of a person who actually believe it.

Physical impediment:
Each partner would have some sort of physical impediment (blind, paralysis, tick, etc.) that would prevent them from doing something normally. A lot of this involved watching people who were actually afflicted with the impediment to find out how they reacted to everyday scenarios. It's almost like practicing a dance step, I suppose.

Pain impediment:
Each partner would come in with an ailment that would affect their pain thresholds. This is harder because now you have to simulate being in pain while not actually being in pain. The circumstance and emotion almost becomes secondary to the pain because the pain takes over as the one thing you are focused on. However, there still needs to be an objective that you have to get to, otherwise there is no behavior that comes from suffering through the pain.

Hot and cold impediment:
Both partners must decide whether the room is hot or cold and act accordingly. There are certain actions that one does when it is freezing (rub extremities, shiver) and scorching (wipe sweat, air out clothes) that have to be almost routine. The temperature tends to enhance emotions in different ways, cold tends to make people more on edge while people tend to want to slow down when it's hot.

Partners choose a person that they know in real life and try to emulate their physical behavior. This was tough for me because I don't know very many people that act too out of the ordinary in real life. I didn't particularly enjoy this one for that reason, I figure if I had a better palette of people to work with I might enjoy it more.

With all impediments, practice is key to make it second nature. I remember practicing a Scottish accent but it faltering completely during class because it was only a few days of practicing. It has to be to the point where it's like you're speaking Scottish all the time. I'd try to find random phrases to practice with and sounds I needed correcting over and over again, until I could try doing it in everyday speech. Then when you're actually in the exercise, you have to forget that you're "doing" a Scottish accent because you'd have practiced it enough so that it comes out naturally out of you.

Also, an important thing to remember is cause and effect for impediments must be clear. If you're in pain, any movement should affect you in one way or the other, it should be clear what the source of pain is and what alleviates it and what makes it worse. If you're physically impaired, you can't all of a sudden lose it by doing something that an actual person with that impediment would never do, such as pointing the head in the direction of a bag when you're grabbing something.

Impediment work was interesting, but I thought it was too quick because we only spent a week on each one. I suppose more independent work will be done on it in the future as we take on roles that require actual impediments.


janet said...

you could be yourself, you're out of the ordinary.

mia said...

that's pretty cool stuff you learned! i think my favorite movie with excellent impediment skills was edward norton in "the score." his ability to act like someone who has a speaking/walking/mental disability with ticks and all was sooo realistic.