Wednesday, February 20, 2008


A million years ago when I was a freshman in college (1 million = 20.5) I read a blurb about how acting students should be careful to allow themselves time going in and out of the real world while acting. If you're doing the acting part right you're bringing your emotional self right up to the surface and it can be too tender for the real world, even the part that's in the hallway outside the classroom or theatre. There was never any time for that sort of decompression and, frankly, I wasn't doing the acting part terribly well so I let the advice roll off my back, imagining a time when I'd all of a sudden know that I was good and that I needed that time and blah blah blah fishcakes (tm.TWoP)
I did find myself doing better acting work while I was in London. So much better in fact that I exited the building after a difficult meeting with the head of school (she was a bonehead, don't just take my word for it, I can send you affadavits) and sobbing hugely on the sidewalk around the corner from the school out of anger and frustration.

One of my class' plays was directed by a creepy Polish dude and we were all vehemently done with him by the time we were in final prep for the performance (Three Sisters, I played Irina). Our voice teacher was doing some physical work with us lying on the floor and she asked us to laugh to get our breathing working and we could not stop. Truly, for almost half an hour we just laughed and laughed and laughed. Every time we wound down enough that she could almost call the exercise ended someone would get a breath and not be able to do anything but laugh it out along that knife edge of hysteria. I have a visceral memory of being done, myself, then hearing my Nigerian classmate Effie's beloved full body laugh which sent us all right back tumbling over the edge again. It felt wonderful and it validated what we'd been saying about how difficult our experience of this weirdo director was. Word got around to our other teachers and they all worked to keep us somehow sanely in that bubble so close to the surface.

The last three or four days I am easy to cry, easier to anger and almost fully without discipline in the art of real life. I want to thump people soundly on the head when their tiniest disagreements deeply wound me and it feels like a Herculean struggle to approach even minor challenges with kindness and objectivity. Sadly not all the challenges I've walked into have been minor, either. 'Cause, I'm not sure if you know this or not but just because you have a show the rest of the world does not stop spinning and wait for you. (Just a helpful tip for you and me.)

I guess this means I was doing some decent acting, huh?

About halfway through yesterday I recognized this as a re-entry problem. I just haven't figured out how to handle it. I'm giving myself extra self-care and trying to let my emotional brain do whatever it needs to do while only responding to others after reflection and not feeling guilty for requiring some distance (honestly, it's for the greater good). One approach would be to take time off from performing until I can re-enter real life completely and then start all over but I don't think that's what I want to do. I want to perform again and soon, I want to build something new and re-work some of the old. I think that making this trip to and from the very surface of emotion more often will make the border crossing more natural.

In the meantime, though, I just wish everyone around me would stop being such an asshole*. (Except you, not you.)
As part of the self-care regimen I took time out of my work day to make a crane out of recycling paper and photograph it. Then I gave it to Audio Girl.

*You know this is a joke, right?


  1. For what it's worth (recognizing that it might not be worth a damned thing), I think your plan of staying IN it is a good one. This is something you so desperately WANT - something you've been working so HARD for - that I feel like you should hold on with both hands. Yeah, it's going to be hard to negotiate those spaces in between for a while, but I think, in the end, it'll be well worth a little thumping and some extra tears (and, again, for what it's worth, I've not been acting, and I'm quick to cry lately, too...)

  2. Anonymous10:19 PM

    I truly hope I haven't done anything to deeply wound you today, or any day for that matter. If so, feel free to thump me. You know I love a good thumpin!

  3. Anonymous10:31 PM

    This is the fault of the teacher. You were asked to laugh your bellies out and you did. What well was there for you to draw from? Anybody can drain their own well in any exercise. The question is, how is your well filled? And how can we nurture that?

    I'd sign off as Laurie B but your site doesn't like that.
    But, I am here anyway.

  4. Anonymous10:38 PM

    And another thing. Do people walk by your desk when you are taking these pictures of yourself and say "What the hell is she doing?"
    I love the pics. The first one is great! Mind if I add it to my screen saver?

  5. Auntie, you're a dirty bird. I sit in a small office with just me, Audio Girl and my 2 bosses. People can see us from the hallway but I pick my moments. Feel free to use the pic if you want to. I don't feel like it's one of my better moments but if you like it have at it.

    Laurie, the laughing wasn't a bad thing. We needed that release and it felt great. There was a bonus that it brought to the forefront that this director was a terrible fit for our class and that we needed even more support from the teachers we clicked with. We got that support and the show went well and it's still a really good memory for me.

  6. I don't know A from Z about acting... or the skilled kind anyway. I can fake anything.
    But all through this post I was visualizing you doing some kind of Yoga wild pose with people all around you trying to recreate your birth.
    Why am I telling you this? I don't know.
    But I do know about RAGE and being feed up with the people and longing to walk around saying "Be Quiet. Don't talk to me."
    I am working hard to seperate the guilt and just be me. Even if that me is angry or wants to be left alone.
    I play a lot of roles during the day... Mother, worker bee at the cube farm, room mate and more often than not I don't get anytime to be ME!
    So I get this dear.
    And I hope that helps you.