As much fun as I’ve had so far in improv, I found our third class to be the most challenging but also stimulating. A good deal of the evening focused on body language and establishing eye contact. Both aspects which I find are difficult to me.
Growing up, I was quite shy. I was verbally picked on by my peers (read other students). I wasn’t entirely surprised. I was the sole anglophone in a French school. I had a foreign last name. I was also overweight. Later, when I had the opportunity to go to private school, I was probably from the least well to do family there and some students were quick to point it out. Fortunately, the potential abuse never escalated very far. I was also one of the tallest in the class throughout school. Anyone who attempted to bully me through physical violence learned to regret it. However, this ostracism led me to subconsciously perceive myself as a less valuable member of the school community. I’d often avoid eye contact or keep people at arm’s length. This further exacerbated my introversion; hence the shyness.
I’m far more conscious now of my body language than I was as a teen. Yet, I still find myself going back to those old habits. I usually have to make the effort to break them. Since joining the class, I find it’s not as difficult though. The group has been very welcoming and the positive atmosphere certainly helps. I think in a way, the teacher must have picked up on it. I had to enact the scene entirely through “telepathy”. Thus compelling us to utilize our facial expressions and body language to convey the dialogue. We both managed to illicit a good deal of laughter from our fellow classmates without going into histrionics. Everyone had their own versions of the scene. My favourite was one where the boss was disgusted with the scent of the person being terminated while the now ex-employee was enamored with the boss’ scent. Another fun one involved a suspicious boss firing a depressed employee.
Another exercise involved providing the context of a scene. The first person would provide who were the characters involved. The second person would provide the location, with the first person providing the action (the what). Some of the answers were quite amusing like a pair of pizza pockets in a stomach fighting off the enzymes. Prior to that, we played a game of word association which served as an excellent precursor. During one of the passes, I was presented with “Pauline Marois”. I tried to stifle my laugh when the first word that popped in my head was “cow”.
Finally, during a freestyle platforming, I participated in a scene. I began by acting as though the other person was in the bathroom for over an hour and I had to use the facilities. Her immediate response was a bit harsher than I expected. I suspect this inspired me to continue the rest of the back and forth in a more antagonistic manner. It was quite shocking how quickly the matter escalated even though we were simply acting within the scene. It devolved into my partner taking a pregnancy test and turned into my character being her brother; a controlling asshole. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I’ll have to think on why all that came out.
After class, we met at McGibbins once more in what is becoming our tradition. We had a lot of fun and strangely enough the topic briefly touched upon our dating lives. While I won’t go into the details of the lives of others, and this blog already has posts about my dating life, I did get something out of it. I’d been considering getting a tattoo but could not decide upon what. I was debating between an optical illusion to reflect my subtle but insightful nature or something to show how I wanted to break through my stoic demeanour. One of the women there talked about how she felt a man who could accurately describe the symbolism of the boa and the elephant from The Little Prince was a sort of a turn-on for her. Back in CEGEP, I had a French class devoted almost entirely to the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I wrote a 10 page dissertation on the book although I no longer have the text. I suspect I put it in the recycling bin in preparation for my move to my condo. Long story short, I was struck with an epiphany: