It’s summer time and I am on a hiatus after a full year of Matt’s classes: no scene rehearsals for a while, no repetition exercises, and no personal monologues until August. In spite of vacation, Matt’s work and the Meisner technique brilliantly live on in my life.
It’s astounding how when I step back, the repetition exercises and “living truthfully and fully” inspire me to do my best, whether I am on stage or off.
The definition of acting is a revelation: “Acting is living and behaving truthfully and fully under imaginary circumstances.” Simple yet profound. Who doesn’t aspire to live truthfully and fully, but doing so requires courage, and commitment to myself and to others. My favorite Meisner quote is “the truth of ourselves is the root of our acting.” In Matt’s class, and in life, it feels uncomfortable when I am less than truthful.
This wasn’t always so…
I was cast in my first play in fifth grade. “The Way Out Cinderella” was a quasi-fairy tale, and in it I played the fairy godmother, a delicious character part for an 11-year-old. To prepare for the role, I whitened my hair with baby powder, wore an oversized, white dress from my mother’s closet, and carried a magic wand made from tin foil. As I danced around the stage reciting my incantations, all the while casting my spells on the prince, I also cast a spell on myself. From that moment, I knew I wanted to be an actress, but somehow it took me more than 20 years to return back to my girlhood dreams and my truth.
Do you remember in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house landed in Oz and it went from black and white to vibrant color? Living and behaving truthfully and fully has the same effect: it lights up my life wherever I am, and whatever I do.
Of course, I am not perfect (surprise!) because fabrications still creep in periodically. The other day I pretended to cook dinner, but really ordered part of the meal from a take-out place, transferred the food into a beautiful bowl, and presented it as my own creation. Wouldn’t it have been easier to tell the truth? Sure, and I will. I will apologize for starting this false reputation I have as a gourmet cook. I can’t lie anymore. It feels weird and fake.
Also, it’s revealing how Meisner work has made me a better listener during all my conversations. I often hear myself repeating Matt’s direction, “Be open and available, turn your attention on another person and take what you are getting.”
Yet, I sometimes stand back and say, “Wait, all this is difficult. I am asking myself to change, grow, and commit to truth?” But, eventually I am reminded of one of my favorite Matt quotes: “Trust the unknown… to be a great actor you want to allow what’s going on in you to come out.”