Monday, January 9, 2012

Who is The Mugger?

I think of the act of creating the Mugger as Method Teaching. For the Mugger to be believable there has to be enough real feeling behind him to create a truly threatening experience. We refer to it as “selling” the character. This is where “method teaching” comes in. If I were to watch a suspense film before class, and then try to act like, or channel, the bad guy in the film, that’s not going to sell. Every suited instructor has to figure out how they themselves would do what the Mugger is doing in order for this to work.
I don’t ever “become” the Mugger, but the Mugger overlays my teaching self as a mask. Behind the mask, I’m observing the student and gauging her reaction to the Mugger. Whatever I’m saying to her is superficially genuine in the same way a good stage actor is being true to his or her character. And just like an actor on stage, I’m not the role, I’m playing the role. While I’m playing it I’m paying attention to all sorts of other things specific to the class. Of course, over the years, I’ve developed, as have other suited instructors, a repertoire of stock characters that I can go to for different purposes. The key is that we use them deliberately, and the point of the interaction is always what will help this student in this fight to learn something and get better. It’s never about the character itself.

Mark Nessel 

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