Improvisation- Meisner notes.docx

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Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
David Roberts

Improvisation- Meisner article: ***This article is actually a journal of various days of improv classes taught by Meisner and his interaction with the students o The article opens with a piece about day-dreaming by Freud which states:  Unsatisfied wished are the driving power behind fantasies; every separate fantasy contains the fulfillment of a wish and improves on unsatisfactory reality th February 6 : o “You see a suit you like very much but can’t afford, and you buy it anyway- what kind of person are you?” o “Impulsive, or foolhardy. That would be the essence of one internal component of the character” o “there are two components of the character [a woman who wishes to destroy men because of her hatred, she also wants to be beautiful to entice them]: the inner component, which determines the kind of person she is, a destroyer of men, which is dictated by Striandberg [a character] and which the actress intuitively extracts from the written text; and an outer component, the external portrait epitomizing her wish to be beautiful o A student asks about accents, are they inner or outer components?  “A man from France recently arriving to America, would have a distinct accent, but a man who has lived here for years, a trace. But neither circumstance would mitigate the fact that at heart he is French- at your [the students] early work, you must rely on your instinctive reaction to the playwright’s text” o You ask friends to go for a drink: one says “Yeah I do!!”, the other, “yes”[ pause pause] “I do”.  “Their words are the same but are they the same? Or do they have two different characters?”  “One is impulsive, the other cautious” o “You have just come from a situation of your own intervention out of which you must get a preparation. Preparation is self-stimulation. Your nature, your instinct, dictates the preparation you want”  “If you just got a part in a show, your preparation could be divinely happy or mystified you got the part” o When creating a make-believe situation (to act) you must try to make it real so it can move you emotionally o Is it better to come in with a feeling or purpose? You could know the preparation or “ride it” o [Students do a mini play] “How could it have been more interesting?”  “You could have learned speech with a particular accent out loud or done it with a particular rhythm”  “Don’t plain memorize- you must learn to make your independent activity more involving and interesting to you” o “One must allow what exist to affect you rather than working out of your head- what you think should exist- so that you’re working from an actual moment. This is to use what exists” o “You see, this exercise [using what exists] adds another dimension. The actor doing the independent activity is not just being interrupted. Rather he is confronted by his partner whose inner life, because of his preparation is compelling and persuasive. The partner enters the room with emotion, and the two of the, reach to each other- moment to moment” o If you don’t bring full enough emotion, what does this mean? “it means I didn’t generate honest, strong feeling that overwhelmed me”… “I would need a better situation, that moves me”  Then Meisner says to the student “then you improvise” o To improvise is to talking to sound like dialogue, with less sounding like repetition  It adds stronger, fuller preparation o Earlier [beginning training for students] emotional preparation was anything you imagined to set yourself emotionally, but now we have to give it justification”... “it strengthens us” … “makes it more full” o One student then explains how “we have been trained since we were children to be restrained emotionally (at leas
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