When using this exercise be sure to reference this blog post.
How slowly or quickly something occurs, which can be physical, vocal, or internal. I ask a brave student to volunteer for this one, and in a whisper ask if they are okay with my hand moving quickly near their face. If they say yes (which they always have so far), I begin the demonstration. I will move my hand very slowly near their face, to look as if I am consoling the student, and I say to the class, “THIS, has a different meaning…” Then I do the same thing again, only very quickly, to look as though it is an act of anger, “than THIS.” I tell them, throughout a scene, the audience may see my body language change until I reach either point. Perhaps the student gave me unfortunate news and I instantly feel sympathetic, then go over to console her. Or, perhaps they are being rude and causing me to gradually grow angry throughout the scene until I lash out. This is an example of time being an internalized elements.
Like time, this can be physical, vocal, or internal. Duration is how long or short something lasts. How long does my character sit on stage sobbing, versus how long or short they are actually upset? One way I will demonstrate involves me crying or shouting out (on an “AHHH!”) in two different durations; One that lasts four seconds, and one that lasts maybe half a second. They always laugh at how funny the short one sounds, but realize that they could have entirely different meanings.
I ask the students why we repeat things. Some answers may be to remember something, because it is important, etc. We discuss how powerful something can be when repeated to either drill in a point, or perhaps the meaning gradually changes during the repetition. For instance, saying “stop” once, versus saying it fifty times. Where does it grow, and where might the person give up?
Kinesthesia relates to bodily energy, and response is reaction. So this term literally means “Body/Energy-Reaction,” kind of like a “gut-reaction.” I explain to them how they laughed at certain parts of my lesson, and how that was a reaction they had– that was their Kinesthetic Response. I mentioned how when I had to quickly move my hand to define Tempo, how the student may have flinched– That was his or her Kinesthetic Response. Sometimes what I like to do, is either chuck the Dry Erase Board eraser across the room, or slam my binder on my desk. They will either jump, have their eyes widened, or not react at all. I explain how even not reacting is indeed a reaction. Something in their own body allowed them not to react.
Kinesthetic Response is allowing reactions rather than manipulating them– and even if a student knew I was going to slam the binder and chose not to let themselves jump or become startled, that was their body reacting telling them not to be startled. Sometimes, I like to further physicalize my explanation of Kinesthetic Response: I will tell a student to pretend there is a rope around my waist and that they can pull me close, and I react. Then, I will let them use their hands to manipulate how I move without touching me– pulling me closer, pushing me farther away, etc. I will do the same thing with them. I explain that even without touching them, they are allowing their body to move depending upon how I command it so, they are not manipulating it otherwise, but rather responding to my motions.
Exercise Contributed by Anna Smith:
Anna is a graduate of Plymouth State University with a Theatre Arts degree concentrating in Acting & Dramatic Writing. She is currently a teacher at the Bedford Youth Performing Company (BYPC) a non-profit 501c small business company. At BYPC, she currently teaches acting classes, film makers classes, directs spring shows, directs summer camp shows, and participates actively in the “Circle of Giving” program. Circle of Giving is the community outreach service provided by BYPC that helps bring theatre, music and dance to children (and elderly) who may not otherwise have the opportunity.