In class this week, my scene partner initiated with the line, “Howdy, stranger.” I was worried that this could lead to a stranger scene, so I thought about the type of person who might say that and responded by endowing my scene partner with Alzheimer’s.
To quote Mike Birbiglia, “I know. I’m in the future, too.” I effectively prevented my scene partner from forming a grounded character. I played the scene but felt completely awful throughout, like Homer Simpson crying as he ate his former pet lobster but continuing to do it, anyway.
There were certainly other ways I could have responded while still avoiding the trap of a stranger scene:
- “Yes, that’s me: Stranger McGee. What’s new with you, Familiar McCoy?”
- “Yes, it’s been three years, Randy, but I feel like no time has passed when I see you.”
Thankfully, MM called me out on it and used it as a teaching point, which felt much better than silently stewing over it for the next few days.
(Aside: He also gave me another note, which is that if I enter a scene as a child, I can stand upright rather than crouching down, which would let me take advantage of my full physicality.)