What is Activity all about? Why would Activity be such a big part of our program?
The way to explain the importance of Activity is to first understand Foundations. In Foundations we sit face to face with someone. Through this face to face, sometimes intense interaction, we get in touch with our natural spontaneous reactions. We learn to know how to feel, purely, moment to moment without interference from our internal editing/coaching/avoiding. By placing our attention fully on the other person, across from us we learn, over time, to lose our self consciousness and work freely in the moment.
I think what Meisner did with Activity is kind of brilliant.
What often happens, when we first leave the work of intense personal one-on-one connection with another, ie. our work in Foundations, and ‘bring it on it’s feet’ with movement and scenarios – our self consciousness returns. There can be this relapse into acting/pretending/showing/exaggerating/manipulating – instead of pure moment to moment spontaneous reactions. So, we experience working fully moment to moment in Foundations, it feels great, and then … those old habits return once we are moving about and working with a scenario. How do we have that same intense truthfulness that we had in Foundations, in action?
It’s at this point that Meisner goes back to training with such specificity. If a person can lose themselves in the activity of whatever it is they are doing, the chance for an experience of spontaneity opens up. Look at yourself now. You are reading this blog post. You are fully doing that with no self consciousness. Now do that on film.
So, our training starts over again. We return to the very essence of Foundations. Our attention is ‘over there’. Our attention is taken up by our activity. We’re fully involved in it without acting/pretending/showing/exaggerating/manipulating. We focus on the task at hand. Then, someone walks in the room and speaks to us. To whatever degree we’ve discovered our ability to be open and spontaneous in Foundations, to that degree, we react spontaneously and authentically to the speaker.
The insight of Meisner to take this kind of training into Activity is impressive … to say the least.