We all know how we would like to look and how we want to present ourselves to the world.
Well, this exercise takes us beyond that: it takes us within. This exercise works well with those who are already familiar with the kind of inner journey that many drama exercises require. For those who are new to the subject or who are experiencing personal difficulties, I would advise caution as the exercise is quite demanding and self – reflective. At the same time, it is a good exercise for getting to know yourself and for passing boundaries.
Work with a partner. The first decision you have to make is simply – Who goes First?
Decide that before you engage.
Two people face one another. They should be close enough that they obscure any other people in the room. They should imagine that they are surrounded by a cone of privacy. They engage eyes, by which I mean that they look directly at one another. Then, by agreement reached before the exercise, one of the partners begins to go deeper.
To the partner going deeper. Begin with a smile. It is a smile of farewell. Now begin to relax your face. Let the energy drain from the face and the eyes become dull. Immediately you will sense you look stupider and less beautiful. This is a threshold. Go past it, the person facing you will not be judging. Gradually reduce energy from the face. The mouth may sag open. The arms may hang loose and aimless. The eyes stop engaging with the partner and, as it were look inwards. The head droops. The breathing becomes more shallow though the breaths are longer. It is actually a peaceful state.
Be aware of any thresholds you pass. You will find that your mind can now visit any part of your body. It will be as though your body is just hanging there – not dead, bus suspended. There is no danger of falling over.
To the partner who is watching. Watch these changes as they take place before you. When you think your partner has reached a plateau and will go no deeper, say gently “Come back.”
To the partner who has gone deep. When you hear those words “Come back”, begin the journey back. Begin with a breath but resist the temptation to go too quickly. Enjoy the return journey as slowly your faculties and animation is restored. Be especially aware of the stages whereby the eyes come alive. Get back to the smile.
Share the experience briefly. Then it is the turn of the other partner. Follow the same procedure. Watch closely the stages
When this exercise is complete one can feel a great sense of freedom. From an acting point of view, you will have gained a deeper understanding of your body. This exercise can be adapted to explore any change of emotion on stage.
As this is a very quiet and introspective exercise, it is good to follow it with something lively that requires a lot of action. MACHINES for example.