Eric Bryant

Meisner Class Journal 5.7.24

The addition of the trigger events and Hot Who’s has really added a great dimension to the class. Everyone seems to be really enjoying them, and overall I think that they make the understanding of the repetition disciplines much easier to grasp. Kenny and I went first last night, and even though it took a minute to settle in to the exercise (which seems to be the case each week with the first pair of scene partners), I think it went really well. I decided to make my trigger event something unusual – I just saw a person sprout wings and fly off, and I chose as my Hot Who that Kenny was my Skeptical Denier. It made for an interesting dynamic. In the second half I partnered with Jay, and we had a really good exercise. We both felt connected from the top, and I think we did a great job of picking up and dealing with each other’s behavior and trusting the exercise. It was really fun. I did make one last minute adjustment to my Hot Who, though, that seemed to confuse Jolene. The trigger was that Jay was the person who had sold the drugs that killed my best friend. My original Hot Who was that Jay was a Cold-blooded Killer, but I thought I would try to heighten the stakes a bit by making him a Repentant Killer. After some discussion, it became clear that the Hot Who wasn’t really connected to the Trigger Event, and that I should have either changed the trigger or stayed with my original Hot Who.

I particularly enjoyed the discussions last night on how we “crafted” our circumstances, and how that crafting can take an okay set of circumstances and elevate them to circumstances that elevate our work. It’s kind of what I teach in my own classes where I constantly tell the participants to make the circumstances and the stakes as specific and heightened as possible, and to use those circumstances to fuel their behavior. I am also of the belief that setting expectations of what I want in a specific scene in odds with what I find when I enter the scene to be highly motivating to how the character reacts to the circumstances and to the other actors. For example, two women were working on a scene from Say De Kooning by Lanford Wilson. The circumstances are that they, along with another friend, have rented a beach house on Long Island, and it is the end of the season so they are packing up. The two women are partners, and one has been off partying for a couple of weeks. What I asked the other actor to do is to use the circumstances that it had been a long, hot drive fighting traffic, and that her expectation entering the scene was that most of the house would be already packed. What she walks into is a total mess with nothing done. By the time the second woman entered, she was already worked up so that her first line to her partner was completely filled with the exhaustion and frustration that she felt. The scene went from ok to gripping.

Sometimes it’s helpful for me to translate Meisner-speak into the language I’m more familiar with, although I am coming to appreciate the clarity and simplicity of Meisner-speak.

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