Are my parents listening to me right now?
Why can’t my little sister be quieter?
The WiFi keeps cutting out!
Why is this desk chair so uncomfortable?
Why do I look so weird on this Zoom call?
Why does my dog keep staring at me? What do they want?!
This is just a short list of the many distracting thoughts that can occur when in a Zoom acting class.
These distractions may seem like an impediment to your training, but they are in fact critical to your development.
One of the most important skills an actor can develop is the ability to focus on the scene at hand, and tune out all the other distractions around them.
A professional actor will have to contend with a plethora of distractions when on-set, or stage: the audience, crew, camera, etc.
In this sense, an actor’s ability to deal with the many potential distractions in a Zoom class can be fantastic training for learning how to focus.
One of the best ways to focus is making the imaginary world of the movie or play super compelling.
If you’re not engaged in the imaginary world you are trying to inhabit, then it is very easy to fall prey to the endless distractions around you.
The most important thing in our online acting classes is making the imaginary world so exciting that your super loud brother, or noisy dog, won’t matter as much.
Last week we played a pretend “baseball game” in acting class as a warmup.
All of a sudden, I was an all-star pitcher and one of my students who said she’s never hit a baseball got a home run- virtually!
We all ended the warm up laughing, excited, and overjoyed because we had crossed the line into the imaginary.
The students ended the exercise looking like they had just finished riding an amusement park ride!
We played ball by living in a pretend reality and transformed into great baseball players!
By the end of the exercise, none of the students were distracted with everything in their house because it didn’t feel like they were there.
Instead, they felt like they were in a baseball field far away from it all.
This is the power of movies, plays, and (if you work hard) your imagination.
It can transport you to wherever you wish to go.
So here are some ways to help transport yourself to an imagined reality so that the distractions that may come with Zoom learning don’t bog you down!
1. Share a pizza. Try creating the texture, the taste, the toppings and then cut a slice and give it to your friend across the screen. Imagine you are together in the kitchen. If you believe it, we will.
2. Add a plot to it. For example, you are celebrating because you both got cast in film. Or if you want a bit of a tragedy, try being siblings in a family that is breaking up through divorce or loss. Just eat the pizza together and see what feelings that brings up. Try and escape into the taste of the crust and the tomato flavor.
3. Go on a trip together. Through the senses and your memory, recreate being inside a plane going to a far-off place with your best friend. Angle the computer so they are just off to your right and sitting in the “seat” next to you. Feel the plane starting to rev up. Look out the window together and point toward things that you see down below as the plane goes higher and higher. Then…. Share a sandwich and a soda on the plane while you talk about what you are going to be doing at this far off land.
You can also do an activity without any story line and see if it comes by itself. Remember when you focus on your five senses and the doing of the activity, the computer seems to disappear and only the theatre /film magic remains. Here are some great ideas…..
Playing catch/ baseball
Packing to go away together.
Doing the dishes, one is drying and the other washing.
Wrapping Christmas/ birthday gifts together.
Mountain rock climbing together.
Setting up a tent.
Making a fire at a campfire.
Shooting Baskets together
Putting pictures in a picture book
You can go anywhere in your imagination. You can break through and connect.