I signed up for a class on Scene Setting at the Fulton Theatre. I thought it was going to be about writing scenes. Turns out, it’s an acting class. There are a dozen of us in the class. The rest all want to be actors, and this class is designed for them. I’m enjoying the heck out of it, though.
Sometimes it feels more like a yoga class. We stretch while breathing deeply and make buzzing noises with our lips that we’re supposed to be able to feel in our chest, lower back, and abdomen. We get on the floor and roll around. Well, I don’t get on the floor. I played the Bad Hip card immediately and got a free pass. I’m allowed to sit or walk around while the rest of them are crawling around on the floor acting like whatever animal the instructor just called out. Enraged dragon. Sad frog. Lazy Cow. Jubilant Jackass. I can mosey around weakly snarling, rib-bitting, mooing, and heehawing, while the rest of the class is down on all fours, really throwing themselves into the roles. It was a pisser. If classes had been this much fun back in high school, I might have spent a lot less time in detention.
A lot of the class is about us bonding as an ensemble. We stood in a circle and threw a bean bag around. Whoever caught the beanbag had to say their name and toss the bag to someone else. Eventually, most of us knew the first name of everyone in the class, and this was only the first class! Good ice breaker. I’d like to be able to do that at a party. You forget somebody’s name, you can just toss them the bean bag, and they’ll yell it out.
For homework, we had to prepare a short monologue about ourselves, and in the second class, we had to perform it. Everybody opened up about themselves, and some told tales that they might not have even told their best friends. Some even cried, but it was an acting class. Were they caught up in the moment, or were they just really doing a good job of acting? Since this is not an advanced acting class, I’m inclined to believe that people were just being real.
After class, Meg, Leni, and I went for coffee in the café across the street from the theatre. It brought me back to when I was working at NYU School of Medicine and taking free classes at NYU. After each class, a few of us would usually head to a local bar. There was one favorite hangout that had cheap beer and served a great cheeseburger on a Kaiser roll with a big side of popcorn. Actually, the popcorn was free. Everybody who was drinking got a never-ending bowl of it, with much of it ultimately winding up on the floor. The floor was a little bit slippery, but that was a great place to do your homework, especially if you liked popcorn.
Last week, I went to the Fulton Theatre for their production of The Producers. I imagined that most of the performers had gone to classes just like this when they were first learning their craft. I wondered how many in my class would ever wind up on the stage. I know that if a script ever calls for any enraged dragons, sad frogs, or lazy cows, we have some people who are just perfect for the part. Who knows? Even I might wind up on the stage someday, if they ever have a role for a crazy old jackass who can only walk on two legs. Hee Haw.
Peace & Love, and all of the above,