In an audition class one evening there was a scene where an actor had to drown.
How to do it? She was stumped. Maybe we all were.
We thought we’d improvise drowning and see what it revealed.
First it came out there were two parts to it – above water and below water. That meant breathing (above water) and holding your breath (below water).
Well, as an actor, you know anything with breath as key is very useful to you. Something you know and like a lot.
She did the drowning improv a few times and each time the discovery was the terrifying experience of not being able to breathe versus being able to.
Essence of life opposites.
When she was submerged the whole class was holding it’s breath and a wave of fear swept across the room. I was clutching my chest; fearful; wondering; hoping.
Then! when she broke the surface and gasped we all gasped. It was powerful. And all sourced from the breathing.
I haven’t done that in class as an exercise since, but I will.
She went back to the audition format and did the scene again. She found that if she kept that essence of not breathing/breathing and maybe do it three times where the drowning part happened that answered the question, ‘How do I act drowning?’