Green Shirt Studio

Thoughts from a Level 4 student

Periodically we ask our students to write about their thoughts on the work they are doing in class. Carol L., a current Level 4 student allowed us to share her writing about that class. Here it is:

“We kicked off Level 4 by talking for 2 minutes about a character in a movie/play/story that we really resonate with. That connection to the character is what made everyone’s talk so riveting. That’s what personalization is all about- bringing you to the character. That’s been our focus in this level, to learn as much as we can about our characters then study our own lives for parallels- forging an authentic connection.

Part of getting there involves emotional preparation and we were able to dig more deeply into that as we worked on the Spoon River Anthology. Even though we are encouraged to take as long as we need, I fight the urge to worry about how long a prep will take. Some situations can take hold quickly and others are a slow burn and I need to remember to let go, relax and see where it takes me. It’s also cool to know that once we’re with our partner, we let that go and just stay present and ride the wave of what we had built up. Staying present and involved with this moment-not worrying about the next one or the last one-is so important. The living is taking place right now. I am reminded of this every time I attend a Green Shirt class and this awareness has showed up in other areas of my life as a result.

I loved the Spoon River Anthology portion of this level. The process of approaching those pieces really let each student access the raw, honest emotion that fueled their character. The step of telling the story in your own words was powerful. It made it more personal, add to that the emotional preparation of a parallel circumstance with a kernel of truth from our own lives and you get something pretty potent. Our stories and the performances that came out of them took us by storm, that’s for sure! While preparing the pieces we worked with a partner and had to look into their eyes the whole time we were speaking and not break the connection. That was intense, it’s easy to look away when you become emotional or the words get too close, but by keeping your eyes on your partner-it intensifies your own feelings, clarifying them sometimes. I know it forced me to stay truthful, to myself, to my partner and the story. I was so moved by the work we did. Seeing my classmates connect to their pieces and share such raw emotion continues to inspire me every Tuesday night.

The work we’ve been doing since on our scenes has been taking all we have learned so far and woven it together. We’ve been working on beats and doings, getting to what we really want in each wave of the scene and going after it. We’ve also started to do a good bit of journaling as a way to develop an authentic connection to the character. One of the things I love about this is that we’re not just making stuff up. Like, “Oh I think my character is a Mensa who is ambidextrous and loves Bob Marley and string cheese.” We have learned to scour the play for a host of key facts, relationships and statements our characters make, take note of them and build on that. It’s a stirring process that lets you use your own life and experiences to inhabit the character as no one else can. Gotta love that.

I’ve learned so much at Green Shirt and this Level 4 class in particular has truly struck a chord with me. We have our final class show this coming Tuesday night and I am so looking forward to soaking up my friends’ performances and giving it all for mine.

One of my favorite lessons is this: It’s not enough to just feel it. You can emote all you want up there on that stage, but you need to connect through it and that’s where the beauty lies. In the connection-to your partner, yourself and the audience. That’s really what it’s all about.”