Monday night was week 2 of acting class. It was raining. Again. 

This time I didn’t really feel nervous on the drive but I knew that would change once I got there. A new person joined the class. Now we are a group of 7. Lots of talking. Lots of listening. The first part was almost lecture-like as we discussed basic emotions, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, joy, shame with dignity and passion. The teacher spoke about each emotion and its positive aspects then asked us (while still just seated casually) to try and feel that emotion and note how we feel and where we felt it. Some emotions were easier than others. Joy was very elusive for me. Almost all emotions I did feel, were felt in the stomach, which was no surprise to me consider how many stomach problems I’ve had over the years.

Then it was time to get up and move some more when she put on some tribal music and turned us loose. Instead of being easier this week it was more difficult thank before. I’m not sure why.

From there we moved into acting out our emotions on an individual level but standing in a circle. She would name an emotion and we would try to feel/act it in place. Then she had us turn away from each other and do it, and this became a bit easier (not much.) She would name an emotion and we would make noises, move our arms and legs, stomp our feet, that sort of thing. It was very hard for me, even harder than the dancing, until she said anger. Perhaps it was because she called for the switch and then someone turned toward me making angry noises and looking as though they were ready to attack. Perhaps all the other prep work primed the pump. All I know is that when she said ANGER I turned and let out several very loud (for me) shouts and stomped my feet hard (oh my “aching very bad before I did that” knee). I found I wanted to just scream and shout like a primal being of some kind. It was an odd experience. When she called us to stop I felt such an absence of tension.

Because emotions are a lot about relationships and relationships bring up a lot of emotions, the next exercise had us lining up facing one another. The idea was to practice sending and receiving emotions without saying a word. First we had to just stand and stare into the other person’s eyes. This met with varying degrees of success. Some people were able to do it. Some people were uncomfortable standing so close to someone of the same sex. Some people just dissolved into giggles. Then it was time to move into personalization which had many similarities to the way a writer might develop a character. People on one side of the room, the senders, were told to think of someone they loved. As a child, as an adult, whatever. But you were personalize the person across from you into that person you loved and then, once you had a hold of that, you were to silently say anything you wanted to to that person. Then you shared to see how well you each did at sending and receiving. I was surprised to see that I DID receive fairly well in several cases and even more surprised to see how well I did at sending because in each instance, the person receiving from me (and we switched off) was able to nail someone I loved, someone I hated and something I wanted. When I say nailed, it wasn’t that they were able to identify that it was my grandfather I loved but they were able to describe the type of love it was and how I felt about it. It was really weird to give so much information without saying anything. I have a new respect for the term “body language.”

The last thing we did was a bit of improv. I felt like I had fallen into an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway? She put three chairs in the front of the room. Each one was a different emotion. Then she picked two people and we gave them a relationship. Each time you were at a different chair, you had to show that emotion. Whew! I did three turns, one pairing as siblings, one as neighbors and one as friends. It seems I have no trouble bringing up the emotions of disgust or anger. But joy, well, that’s one to work on.