Retrospect Series: Chapter 2 – Imagination
Unfortunately, I do not have a very strong memory. I am gifted with memorizing lines tremendously fast but, as is the nature of theatre, once I stop needing them, they leave me.
That is the way with most of my life’s memories. Certainly there are some very strong images that will always linger but what random class-project I made in 2nd grade escapes me. As I’ve stated before, I never really focused on the real world around me. At least, those are not the memories that stuck with me.
I recall glimpses of toys and games through my very young days. By games, I don’t mean board or video; we certainly played an assortment of those as well, but more often than not, my sister, Christine, and I would simply use our imagination. Christine is a writer and it showed through our gameplay. She would randomly turn around and tell me to solve the riddle before I could access one thing or another; I would then travel around the house or the yard, running into different villagers or animals (all played by my sister) until I could figure out what would save the day or create peace or claim my rightful place as heir. Sometimes we ran around on all fours as dogs or lions. Other times we were gargoyles or fairies. We called these “Smart Games” as they could be played anywhere and with anyone who had an imagination.
These Smart Games carried throughout my childhood. I’m not sure when they started exactly but I now recognize the immense usefulness they had with nurturing my empathy. Empathy is a wonderful tool used by actors to determine how others are feeling and therefore, what you must do, as a particular character with your own set of needs, in order to get what you want. I never considered these games improv until I tried playing them with someone who could not think on their feet.
These games of improv bled into everything we did. A game of Chess became a tremendous battle, as every piece spoke – pawns could not be ruthlessly sacrificed so easily. Video game characters, such as the Super Mario Bros. had to follow an honor system, sacrificing their life (and your turn) should you lose your Yoshi companion. Dr. Mario would talk to the viruses, like an extended version of the Mucinex commercial. Every moment of my childhood was full of accompaniment as my sister made each inanimate object speak to me. (I once kept a cleaned out soda can on my shelf for a month because it asked me not to throw it out). I have many more memories of these games but I hope this brief overview paints a picture of just how whimsical my life was growing up.