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In week three, we studied
Lee Strasberg’s Method and his Stanislavski-derived techniques of emotional
memory and tempo-rhythm. I was initially sceptical about the emotional memory
technique because in my experience, the intense focus of the actor on himself
can take him out of the scene and into his own mind, making for slightly
one-sided performances without much interaction. I also felt that I would
probably find it hard to draw upon an emotion from a personal experience on the
spot.

At the beginning of the
session, we did an emotional memory exercise that had us form a line, focus on
a memory and then project that emotion. Watching the other half of the class do
this exercise, I was impressed with how they were able to completely immerse
themselves in their emotional state. At the same time, I noted it might be hard
to shift between these feelings during an intense scene where there is no time
for preparation while on the stage. For me personally, the sadness part
unexpectedly triggered a strong feeling of grief because of recent deaths of close
family members that I found impossible to contain. I found myself unable to successfully
project any of the other requested emotions afterwards as I was still overwhelmed
by the sadness and it took some time after the exercise for me to calm down. I concluded
this method is not suitable for me personally.

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Following this exercise,
we looked at another performance concept of Stanislavski, tempo-rhythm. This
theory suggests that the inner motives of a character do not always correspond
to their outer physical state. We tried this out in a few improvisation games,
keeping the scene the same but changing individual characters’ tempo-rhythms. I
found it particularly interesting to see how one character’s internal tension directly
affects body language and changes the dynamics between them and their scene
partners (Stanislavski and Hapgood, 2008).

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