KJ7 - Enjoy the silence


[INTERIOR: WAITING ROOM] - Lights UP! A man is sitting reading a magazine slowly turning the pages. The sound of each one is all you can hear until the rustle of his pants as he crosses his legs. A woman enters the room and sits right next to him, uncomfortably close. He looks up and back at his magazine trying to ease away from her slightly without being obvious. She exhales with a snort of indignation and stares at him, her face getting closer and closer to his and she says in a low voice....

This summer working with Keith Johnstone we did scenes starting with 20 seconds of silence followed by one character saying something to change the other. Those first 20 seconds were riveting to watch "nothing" happen. However, there was so much that was in that "nothing". Watching as an audience member I created stories about each character and small traits and gestures took on great meaning - it was engrossing.

The audience is not passive, they are searching for the "reason"

- Keith Johnstone Aug 2009

For the players, these scenes with silence gave time to relax and have "nothing" happen. It was 20 seconds just listen for the offers that were there - a shift in position, crossing legs, a slight glance of eye contact. Then a small bit of dialog (5 seconds) and another 20 seconds of silence.

Nothing, nothing, nothing, something!

- Keith Johnstone Aug 2009

This was a shift for me to think about breaking scenes down to smaller slices of very present, in-the-moment focus. For those short periods, listening, connecting, acting, and focusing on what was already there was easier because it wasn't for a whole scene - just this short part of one.

It's so easy to rely on being wordy, but so rewarding to let go, slow down, and enjoy the silence.