What my theatre class teaches me

Today in my “Oral Expression” class for French, we did a really interesting improvisation exercise. Basically, you were given three places to go on the stage and your fellow actor was given three without either of you knowing who was going where. You just started and boom.

But here’s the catch: You had to make it real. You couldn’t just walk across the stage or do a ping-pong blip-blip-blip and done. No. You had to make it REAL. And THAT was sweet because you end up creating a character, a story and a life for it. I had tons of fun with that little challenge. And didn’t do too badly, if I do say so myself.

But here’s where it gets deep and cool. Our professor, at the end of class, said that the exercise wasn’t just about learning how to act. He said, the things in the exercise that are true remain true for life. He said, here. You have three goals you want to accomplish. If you hop up and down, yell and scream, scramble and tussle, you’re not going to cross that stage convincingly. It’s just not going to happen. You have to be ready to move, yes, but you also have to let the moment come. Because it will. You just have to be ready for it. And stop wasting all this energy doing…nothing really.

What you need will come. You have to be ready for the opportunity to come so you can seize it and cross the stage. But no matter how you struggle, you’ll never be able to cross that stage convincingly until the right moment comes. And then it will be natural, beautiful and quite possibly steal the show.



Today we went esploring. That’s right. Esploring. The best kind of exploration. Basically, I decided that I didn’t know enough about this city that I live in and wanted to just, well, wander. However, I felt pretty anti-social doing all that alone, so I invited my group, got a response and off I goed! We went mostly north, taking whatever streets looked strange, new or interesting. Or some combination of the three. This is the first street we came across:

We most certainly did not see the whole city. An hour later and I have a vague idea of what the north-most side looks like. Haha which is not to say that I know the ins and outs at all. We skipped more routes than we took. But it was good to just wander. It’s really cool, this city. I think I’ve finally begun to love it. The cobblestone streets, the close buildings that are just a little less than straight, the sidewalks you can hardly use. All of it. Even the freedom to just smoke at a cafe without worrying about offending someone. It’s interesting that freedom. I don’t even smoke, but the fact that you can just sit at a cafe and enjoy it without worrying about other people – what they think, if they care – that’s really something.

We were also asked for directions twice, which I took as a major, major accomplishment. If you think I look French enough to know anything about the particulars of this city, that’s really a big ego booster for me right there. And I actually knew where the thing was too! Broom Shackalaka. Yes you did read that right. The first word is, in fact, “broom.”

Second awesome thing: first class. The class offered through our program started today. It’s a theatre class. I’M. SO. EXCITED!! I haven’t done theatre since high school and I’m just getting to the point where I miss it. So this is really perfect. Today we talked about body language, intonation and a lot of things I have seen but never noticed or had explained. Here’s one you should all know. It’s critically important.

“Le Premier Pouvoir,” the first power. It is essentially the power that takes a person leading a group (or being watched by a group) and makes them into someone who can manipulate the physical reactions of their audience. Think about it. What do you do when you watch a football game? Lean to the right, lean forward, try to react to things like you want them to or how they are. In fact, someone discovered that people watching tennis experience neural signals to the muscles in their arm despite the fact that they aren’t playing the game. A professor who struts too and fro, speaks quickly and loudly will increase the heartbeat of everyone in the class. It’s massively powerful because it’s subconscious.

In other news, we finished class with improv. And boy was that fun. Our professor just set two chairs on the stage, asked for two volunteers and said, “go.” Terrifying and awesome. All at once. I may have somewhat stolen the show. And I don’t want to sound egotistical about it, but. Well. I just happened to come up with a truly ridiculous and variable character. Who ate squirrels. And was mauled by both a bear and a cat. At different times, of course.

It was a very fun day. And I got to talk to both of my best friends. One only briefly, but hopefully we’re going to remedy that situation very soon.

I miss them. That’s the one thing. I think it’s always going to be the one thing. I can live without America (shocking, I know. But as much as I love my country, there is more to the world than just it). I can live without speaking English all the time to people I know are going to understand what I’m saying 100%. I can live without familiar foods, familiar cars, familiar buildings. But I really don’t know how long I could go without someone to share all this wonder with.

And that, I think, is really the hardest part about study abroad.

So far. 😉