I Mean It.
Step 1: Get a cat. You can borrow one if you don’t have one. If you’re allergic, Benadryl won’t kill you one time. Make sure the cat is a mature one, who’ll sit patiently with you, not run away.
Step 2: Sit the cat down near you. Sit down near the cat (or stand, but don’t make threatening moves that might chase it away).
Step 3: Do a monoscene with the cat. Treat it like a scene partner. Like a person. Talk. Do improv.
Here’s what you’re likely to find: It’s a very, very funny scene. The more seriously you play it, the more grounded you make it, the funnier it will be.
It really will be a great scene. If the cat stares at you, react. If the cat turns away, react. If the cat yawns while you’re speaking, react. Keep it up as long as you can sustain it. Honestly, if I could do this onstage in a theater in front of an audience without traumatizing my cat, I would.
Takeaways: If you can do a good scene with a cat, you can do a scene with most humans. You’ll learn that a non-reaction is still a reaction. A non-verbal exchange is still an exchange. It loses nothing by being one-sided, because it’s not one-sided.
Another takeaway: What if you could learn to do an improv scene the way your cat does it? What if you didn’t feel the need to interject clever ideas or make huge moves? What if you could calm the hell down and simply BE? Simply be present? In the moment? Like a cat? Like a good scene partner?
Not all the time. But sometimes. If you don’t believe that this works, try it. The added benefit is, that once it’s over, the cat won’t sit around and talk about how hard it is to get a role in a commercial. Win/win.