One of my favorite exercises that I did in clowning class was a study of desire.
This is what it was:
Four people sit on a couch. Another four people stand across the room and choose a person on the couch that they either really want to “f,” or really want to eat.
At first, they just stand there with the breath of that desire in that initial pose. Even across the room, you can see it in their eyes.
Then, one person starts to move towards the one they’d chosen. With each step, their desire doubles, and they have to show that it doubles, moving slowly until they are standing right in front of the person nearly losing their mind. At that moment, someone shouts or does something to otherwise distract them, breaking the spell.
It was one of the most compelling things I’ve ever watched or been a part of. You can’t help but be transfixed when someone wants something so bad. You have to know what happens next.
Our teacher said that sometimes you see this exercise in auditions, but the real point of it was to watch the people who are waiting to move.
These people have to hold their desire until it’s their turn, no matter how long that is. Imagine wanting something to an unbearable point and then having to bear it. That is the most challenging part—that shows the actor.
Isn’t that life, though: wanting something more than anything and just having to hold it and wait? Then, moving patiently towards it, getting there, and being distracted?