from From "Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances"

           The goal of the Meisner acting technique has often been described 

           as getting actors to "live truthfully under imaginary circumstances."

           Here are some acting games we have found useful. 

I.
THE REPETITION GAME:
The Moment is a Tricky Fucker
 
        In the repetition game you repeat what I say. Sometimes you
change it and then make me repeat it until we are joined in moment.
 
        Hello: Hello.
        Goodbye: Goodbye.
 
        In this warehouse loft, windows are as tall as walls. Outside, the
trees repeat each other’s call to the sky. Their roots bank their secret
messages in the earth. I am your spontaneous responder, and you are
my spontaneous responder. We go on like this until one of us needs a
sip of water.
 
        We came here through the old neighborhood, took three
lefts. There is a crack in your lower lip that bleeds out a truth you
won’t repeat back to me. Our poetic problem is to enact a relational
philosophy of each other. This is how beings can be made.
 
        We both want to be whole, so the story can be told. We are
engaging in a kind of process theology with each other, like others
engage in sex or eating or drinking.
 
        This is where our intention is to make this a prologue exercise that
defines the trajectory of our story, as if we have always been together
not merely as characters.
 
        I am Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter.   (I repeat).
 
        I’m a doppelgänger, step-sister, bitch, bastard—the roofied one,
erased from the storyline.                 (You repeat).
 
        I’ve got stage fright, which is a kind of trauma of having to be born
again. (I repeat).
 
        I hear footsteps on the fire escape, but it is only our voices reverbing
against the mirror behind the ballet bar. A speckled green vase on the
farmhouse table painted black yelps for admiration by the door.
 
        THEOTHERWOMAN/Our Mother always asking (off-stage):
“Are you paying attention to what I am saying?”
 
        You say: “Are you paying attention to what I am saying?”
 
        So, I say it. My double, my sister: We are engaging in an energy
event. I am disassociating into you. God is an actor acting on us: You
are inventing me and I am inventing you. Where have you been? I say.
Where have you been? You say.
 
        “Your hair’s a mess: Brush it.”
        “Brush it!” (THEOTHERWOMAN/Our Mother says off stage).
 
        A little brown starling on the sill. A zigzag of scratches on this old
pine floor.
 
        Our poetic problem is to enact a relational philosophy of each
other. This is how beings can be made.
 
        Sails can be heard clinking against masts in the harbor behind us.
 
        We both want to be whole, so the story can be told. We are
engaging in a kind of process theology with each other like others
engage in sex or eating or drinking.
 
         “Here’s the brush.”
         “Do you want the brush?”
        We have no trigger words. All words are trigger words, that’s how
we like it. Real.
         “Don’t brush your hair by the food. I’ll give you the brush, then
you’ll cry.”
 
        A fruit basket encased with plastic wrap by the industrial sink:
green apples, navel oranges, an unripe pineapple doesn’t solve our
hunger. The mirror is our dining table, pull up that black metal chair.
 
        Are you paying attention to what I am saying? I’ll give you the brush.
 
        This is where our intention is to make this a prologue exercise that
defines the trajectory of our story together, as if we have always been
together not merely as characters. We know where the typewriter is. (It
is hidden in the closet.)
 
        Is there something you want to tell me?
 
        This is where we might read our Alfred Whitehead philosophy
grandfather gave us and say: “Your creating makes no difference to
God’s existence, only to God’s of me.” But after you repeat me, you say:
 
        I want to have a Godsperience—
 
        So, I’m writing a ritual to bring back our father in some form
because God is an actor in our story.
 
        The OTHERWOMAN/Our Mother (still off-stage) says: Are you
listening to what I am saying?
 
        You call to me, and I repeat what you say.
 
        I’ve got stage fright, which is a kind of trauma of having to be born
again.
 
        You bite a green apple vigorously. I open the window to prove
myself to the wind. We are listening. It is autumn again. Five minutes
ago it was spring.
 
        You don’t impersonate a character, you personae a character.
 
        I want to be whole again, so I begin living truthfully under these
imaginary circumstances with her.
 
        I am the stranger in the mirror in conversation with my
doppelganger.
 
                We proceed to the next exercise.
Elizabeth A.I. Powell, "Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances [1]" from Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances.  Copyright © 2016 by Elizabeth A.I. Powell.  Reprinted by permission of Anhinga Press.
More Poems by Elizabeth A.I. Powell