Scene study with Alan Langdon was intimidating, inspiring and quite revealing.
My first scene study assignment was with a young girl named Yarissa. Beautiful name, beautiful girl. She was a sweetheart. Trying to find time to practice our scene was difficult. Between all our classes, memorizing scenes, monologues, music, and limited access to rehearsal space, it was a struggle. But find time we did.
Eventually it was our turn to present our scene. Before each scene we were to do an exercise where we told our classmates about things going on in our life or in other words, roadblocks to being able to open up and give an honest performance. The idea was to clear our minds from those things and be able to access our feelings and life experiences in order to apply it to our character.
I started by telling my class that ever since my father had died I had been walking around wanting to scream or yell. (Strangely the urge to scream came at the oddest times – like in the middle of the grocery store for example.) I started to continue on to tell more of my story but Alan tried to interject some direction. (Little did I realize that the acting lesson had already begun.) I kept trying to talk and he kept saying to me, “So scream”. I ignored him for a few seconds and tried to continue on with my story, but he persisted. Quietly and firmly he said it a couple of more times. “Scream”.
And scream I did. For quite a long time.
It was deep, loud and long. and then suddenly it was over.
My classmates were stunned and silent. My friend Alex later told me that the hair stood up on his arms. No one else ever said a word to me about it.
Let me explain here that class was sacred. What we told each other, the emotions and buried experiences that came out, were not shared outside the class room. It was a safe place. Alan made sure of it. There were students who remembered horrific experiences as children, one who recounted an attack by a trusted family member with a knife and so on. Yes it was a safe place and we walked out of there raw and spent. It was strangely freeing and yes, glorious.
After the scream I stood there. Probably as shocked as my classmates but strangely calm and present. I looked at them, (breathing heavily through my nostrils daring anyone to say anything) looked at Alan, and turned to face my partner. I said nothing, just stood there and breathed. Yarissa stared back at me. She could say nothing. So we did our scene.
Alan made a comment to me when it was over and he had worked with us for awhile. He said,” When you are present, we hunger for you.”