As Actors its important to train your imagination to be as active and creative as possible. Actors with rich imaginations are able to free associate and connect to their impulses which leads to much more interesting and unpredictable choices and it is possible to train your imagination to be even better than it already is. Here are two exercises that you can do to develop this all important tool. The first is one you can anytime and anywhere and it can be as detailed as you have time for.
- Sit down with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands on your thighs facing upwards then take a few deep breaths as you close your eyes and relax.
- Next, picture the front door to your childhood home as if you were standing in front of it. What color is it? What’s it made of? What kind of handle does it have? Where is the doorbell or knocker? Is there a peephole? Once you’ve got the door solidly visualized expand your view outwards to take in what’s around the door; windows, bushes, plants, doormat, etc. Try and picture the front door in as much detail as possible. When it starts to feel real you can enter the house.
- Once inside take a moment to acclimate yourself. Do you hear anything? Is there any particular smell in the air? What’s under your feet and how does it feel? Then, turn and face the wall on your left. What do you see? Study the wall from top to bottom taking in everything… architectural details, furniture, decorations then turn to the next wall and do it all over again. Repeat this until you have recalled as much detail as you can then move on to the next room.
- Slowly move from room to room trying to recall more and more. If you only have time for one room or even one wall as your on your way to an audition, it will be time well spent training your imagination.
The next exercise is a useful tool in training yourself to reach beyond obvious initial choices. Sit down with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands on your thighs facing upwards then take a few deep breaths as you close your eyes and relax.
- Get yourself a timer, a pad of paper and a pen or pencil and a list of WORDS* then…
- Sit down with your feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands on your thighs facing upwards then take a few deep breaths as you close your eyes and relax. Once you feel open and calm you can open your eyes and choose the first word on the list that jumps out at you.
- Then set your time to about 5 minutes and GO! Let your mind wander as you start writing down what you think of. Once thought will lead to the next and with this exercise the most important thing is not to censor yourself.
Below is my free association starting with Rabbit Hole. I gave myself 3 minutes.
Rabbit hole, alice in wonderland, cheshire cat, mad hatter, off with her head!, queen of hearts, hat trick, slight of hand, stab in the heart with an ice pick, bleeding from the inside out, jail, heroin, dark, bathroom, alone, LSD, looking from the inside out, trapped, pimples, alone, desisto, gestalt therapy, curtain of hair, hiding, hitchhiking, hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, lollipops, planets, earth girls are easy, geena davis, thelma and louis, brad pitt, abs, cowboy hat, smile, white teeth, zadie, books that won prizes, india, castration, beggars, curry, pink, color, tattoos, henna, dots, long hair, crystal gail, country music, riding in the car from the airport, the smell of the ocean, highway 60, coastal clouds, beach, my husband, books, umbrella, seagulls, stealing food, a film I made, washington square park, new york, hot sidewalks, cooking eggs on hot sidewalks, my father telling us not to play in the pile of dirt made by the construction workers then getting caught with dirt in our shoes, spanking, my father’s face, my purple schwinn bike, tassels on bike handles, liza grossman, lafayette park, making elephant puppet at friend’s school, walking across the railway tracks, pheasants flying, my mother’s brown suit with the matching cape and hat with a pheasant’s feather, custody fight, Huntington woods, the exorcist…
* Here’s a list of words you can use to get you started if your mind is drawing a blank. Feel free to add to it change it or pitch it in the garbage. The idea is to just pick one word and see where it takes you.
- star trek
- women’s lib