Friday, March 21, 2014

Why is using our imagination so important?

We all possess an imagination. The difficulty many of us have is that we stopped using it early in life. Just like a muscle, imagination must be exercised and used if it is to grow and be of benefit to us by ultimately serving our creativity.

Many of us have been brought up to believe that only “reality” is worth our time and effort - that fantasy and imagination are not for “grown-ups.” However, if we want to be a skillful actor, we must learn to play. Or rather, relearn to play. This is often in conflict with how we supposed to be as adults - responsible, mature, stable, dependable - not the kind of person who “wastes their time” indulging their imagination.

But using our imagination does not mean we become irresponsible or immature. What it does mean is that we add a powerful creative dimension to our work.

As actors we must learn to be a child again, not an undisciplined child, but a child who is free to use his imagination to be part of another world. As such, we must recapture our ability to play.

Do you remember how as a child you could scare yourself? Maybe you would creep down a hallway and pretend there was a monster in the bedroom. And as you got closer to the bedroom, you could feel the fear - your heart would race, your palms would get sweaty, and your mouth would become dry. 

If, at that moment, someone had asked you whether there really was a monster in the bedroom, you would have said “no,” but while you played the game, you played as if the monster existed.

The ability to play allows us to accept, and even embrace, a cardboard box as a world full of possibilities, limited only by our willingness to imagine.

“The more free the actor plays, the greater the enjoyment the audience derives.”
- David Mamet



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