I think that you think that I

Marshall Baker
BFA J+M 2024

Note to prospective performers: This is primarily a psychological exercise that aims to better an understanding of first yourself, and second your partner in the exercise. To fully understand this activity, I invite all readers to take one to two hours out of their day to perform this piece with someone they care about, or in an interpersonal relationship they would like to explore further.

Rule 1 Tell the truth as if you would die speaking anything else. (Note to reader: I’m acknowledging the potential for manipulation if one or both members do not tell the whole truth. At this time I do not know how to combat this as the playwright. It is up to the discretion of the performers to take all statements with a grain of salt, while also embracing everything that is said whole-heartedly.)

Rule 2 Both members should be in a physically comfortable position.

Rule 3 Limit as many distractions as possible before starting. For example: phones, friends, voices, cars, construction, birds, pets, hunger, thirst, desire, hate, fear, sadness, happiness. (Emotional distractions during the game are perfectly fine and should be encouraged).

There are never more than two players. Sometimes there is one.

Hints: Don’t try to force getting deep; try starting with statements that are surface level, and let them get deeper. Participants should find that these statements will start very surface level and become more personal naturally as the conversation develops.

Word Bank

am, can, do, have, had, could, need, may, might, must, should, would

Use the word bank as inspiration on how to start an (improvised truth)

Stage 1

Note to performers: these statements are here to help your partner understand how you think they view you.
Example: I think that you think that I don’t appreciate how much you do for me.

Player 1: I think that you think that I, (improvised truth)

Player 2: I think that you think that I, (improvised truth)

(repeat until no more statements come to mind)

Stage 2

Note to performers: these statements are here to show your partner how you view them.
Example: I think that you don’t know how many people care about your opinion of them.

Player 2: I think that you, (improvised truth)

Player 1: I think that you, (improvised truth)

(repeat until no more statements come to mind)

Stage 3

Note to performers: these statements are here to help you understand yourself.
Example: I am stalwart, but I don’t let people know how much fear I have surrounding my day-to-day actions.

Player 1: I, (improvised truth)

Player 2: I, (improvised truth)

(repeat until no more statements come to mind)

Ending sequence

This portion of the play is to be used to close the conversation that was started. This is a list of possible things you can do but do whatever feels correct.

— Hug

— Go on a walk

— Thank your co-performer

— Discuss what was stated

— Quiet journaling

Thank you for performing,
I hope that you learned something.

Notes from playwright: I first performed this play sometime in the spring of 2023 by accident. A friend of mine and I were sitting together with the intent of having a deep emotional conversation. We both felt like having these conversations was a large part of why we became friends, and have since become friends with many other people through these techniques. But at the time we hadn’t had one of these emotionally satiating conversations and both were interested in engaging in one. Throughout our almost six hour conversation on the floor of his dorm, I stumbled upon a question I didn’t have words for. Essentially I was wondering what he thought I thought of him. And then the exercise was born. We both took turns stating what we thought the other person’s perception of ourselves were. It was very interesting. We both started with semi-surface level qualifiers like “I think you are cool,” or “I think your work is good.” But over time the statements started to get very deep and personal. As we opened up, we started finding that we had a lot of the assumptions about how the other person thought about ourselves. Although I’ve only experienced this conversation about three times, I think that this exercise will benefit others. It’s valuable to people who know each other, and to those who grew apart due to time spent away, where resentments of sorts grew. The nature of this play is psychological. The nature of people is psychological. I hope to explore this more in the future.

Marshall Baker hopes to eat tasty bread within the next few days.