Class: A Play
Me: Right, it's called a play because that it what we do to explore, interact and understand the story
and the meaning and the character... , we play. You can't forget to play.
Play is the methodology for any theatre practitioner worth their salt. It also is something that can be forgotten when the stress of meeting deadlines and the bottom line looms large. When I first learnt about Michael Chekhov's essential quality of 'Ease', it seemed to me that it should be easily achieved if only we could remember to play.
Approaching our games, activities, rehearsals etc. with this mindset is important if we want to sidestep gravity, in many a sense of the word, and perform with ease.
For example, I play a scene of a mother steeped in grief. Her child is lost and she travels everywhere searching for her. sleep is elusive. Depression is setting in. This is a grave situation, but to remain free and flexible to perform the scene authentically and in the moment I can not actually be depressed, heavy, lethargic etc.. Instead I need to play with these concepts. I need to thrill at what happens when I play with my body shape. I need to feel joy at the ways I can play with my voice to convey a moment in this woman's story. I embrace the moments of engagement with my audience and castmates, as we should any moment of human connection and collective understanding. The story and the character hold gravity... I do not. I revel in my craft and how I might use it to tell the story. As a result I remain responsive and present, and I do not carry the weight of the story away with me.
As actors, we should never stop playing.