working you into a lather

Runner

– 7 June 2015 –

Happy Sunday!

If you’re a follower of this series, or this column, you’ll know that I have a distinct opinion about The Body as it relates to theater. While my esteemed colleagues insist that as humans, we filter through cognition, I hold that each of us has a beast in the viscera, and that despite our higher natures, our responses are very often pre-intellectual.

A case in point: there’s a person in my world who holds that I behaved badly in our professional relationship. Let’s call them A. Never mind that A cost me thousands of dollars and credibility with a major theater, let’s stick to A’s story, and behavior. There’s another person (B) whom we both respect, with whom we each have a good relationship. Whenever A is talking with B and I enter the room, A quite consciously looks directly at me, cringes, and shrinks a bit. B follows A’s gaze and unconsciously puffs up, as if to protect A from whatever interloper has arrived. B is a very intelligent, sensitive person, a very thoughtful and thinking person whose respect and affection I hold, yet A yanks B’s chain – and gets away with it – because A understands that we react and respond with our bodies long before our minds get involved.

This long-winded story could be your prompt. But what I had in mind was going back to last week‘s prompt and, instead of a cold, giving your character a physical challenge. Make them deaf, or blind, or missing a limb. Put yourself in their position, and in the position of your other character, while not changing objectives, obstacles, character arcs.

Because if you’re not putting yourself in your characters’ metaphorical bodies, not physically empathizing with each of them, I’d hold that you’re not really wrighting plays. But that’s just my opinion, take it or leave it.

Happy Writing!

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