By Matt Pana, guest contributor It was my senior year of college, and there was one thing standing between me and my degree. A Fine Arts credit.
I decided on Acting, in hopes to improve my stage presence as a musician. Now there’s one thing you need to know about Acting classes. There are no set lesson plans. No multiple choice questions or research papers. You can’t teach someone how to read a line or portray a character. The best way to learn is by playing. Playing games. Learning through action. Expressing yourself. And there was one game that stood out above the rest.
The Eraser Game.
Imagine this: an empty stage, two students and a chalkboard eraser placed between them. Now the object of the game was simple. The first person to convince the other to give them the eraser would pass the class. There was only one rule though. No physical contact.
What resulted was a standstill. A face-off. A barrage of sound and saliva. People demanding. Screaming. Taunting. Teasing. My game plan? Confidence. Persistence. Not stopping until I got what I wanted: that beloved eraser.
My turn was up, as I was paired with the best actress in class. She had a history of starring roles in every production on campus. I began to speak loud and firm. I looked at her directly in the eye. She just stood there. Silent. Glaring. And the more stoic she was, the more angry I became. My blood. About to boil. My veins. About to burst. My throat so hoarse that I could barely complete a full sentence.
So what did I ultimately get from all this? Well I learned that silence speaks volumes. That lack of communication can drive a person crazy and attack their pride. And once the dust settles, there are no clear protagonists or antagonists. It’s all up to your own perspective. How the scenes are seen. How the story is told.
At the end of the lesson, there were no winners. Yet we still passed with flying colors. In the world of acting, it’s not how you act, but how you react. It’s not about the punch-lines or monologues. Rather, what’s understood beyond the words. Beyond what’s planned or scripted.
Don’t just listen to what someone says, listen to what they do.
Matt Pana has performed in 2 countries and traveled 11,000 miles by ground as drummer for the band Mitchell Grey. Each week, he sits down in-person with performers and personalities. Episodes include exclusive music, road stories, and humble beginnings. His latest mission is to inspire and cultivate local artists, with the launch of his new YouTube channel. Episodes will focus on three key elements: eating food, telling stories and making music. Matt has since returned to his roots, drumming for indie-rock band Wyland, recent winners of The Break Contest. You can catch them performing at the Skate & Surf Festival Main Stage, as well as New York, Philadelphia and their native New Jersey.
The original version of this post originally appeared on Matt Pana's blog.
Photo credit: TakingStep1.com