Acting course for everyday life

About a year ago I went to a two-day acting course in Glastonbury, organised by Tor Theatre and Somerset Skills & Learning. I am going to describe one of the exercises we did.

It was a small, short course, really just a taster, but we did many different activities and it made two days really good in grey January. It was a very diverse group of people, creating a supportive environment together with the trainer.

I like courses or workshops where people get together to learn something in a group. I like acting, especially challenging practice, where you don't have a text to tie you down, you just make up a character, a situation, and you play! You get to step outside of your own personality, while of course still being present.

So for one of the exercises the trainer gave each of us a number from 1 to 10, without showing it to anyone else. We were around 10 people I think. Then he explained that our numbers will represent status in society, 1 being the poorest, most disadvantaged, 5 being perhaps those who get by fairly well on average, and 10 being millionaires or royal. He invited us to think about what our number represented and to step into that character. The exercise was to mill around evenly in the space and to get accustomed with our character. Then, slowly he told us to interact with each other with a gesture, a nod specific to our character. It was interesting how we could quite easily play some of the roles, while the middle ground was a bit tricky to find, to express, the characters around 4-5-6. After that he invited us to say a few words of greeting as we pass each other, still in line with our character's status. Later we stopped moving and he told us to stand in a line starting from one end of the room to the other, according to status. Remember, nobody knew each other's numbers, only their own. Obviously whoever had 10 and 1 had an easy job and everyone else had to find to fill in the rest. If I remember well we actually got it right straight away, and that with there being two nines!
For me it was interesting because I think I was playing an 8 or a 9, which is quite high up there. And it's also interesting to give these “grades” to people and personalities. And mostly to self-confidence. The higher you are, the more secure, the more power you have. And the most interesting about it was that I can act being 8 or 9 and people can't really make the difference... I think the trainer might have mentioned that this practice is useful to remember when going to an interview or having to speak in public. To just think you have a high number in your pocket and act it!

I know acting is also used as a form of therapy. I am sure it can be helpful, I've experienced its power of broadening your perspective. Also, getting on a stage with any type of performance can be therapeutic and builds your self-confidence (as long as it is properly framed, in front of a mature audience).

Have you ever done any acting? Do you remember anything meaningful you learned from any games/exercises from interesting courses?