Tag: bettie page

Kitchen

An Actors Approach to Letting go of a Character to Avoid Personal Psychological Concussions

As an actress I devoted myself to years of intensive training that taught me how to embody any type of character I wanted to portray. The training was based around the concept of tapping in to a thought or belief within my personal life experience that I could then manipulate and repurpose to say and do things that would be convincingly portrayed via a character to the audience. This style of training is successful, yet I also find it capable of causing psychological concussions. Concussions caused by stitching your own personal experiences into the material of a character so seamlessly that you struggle to remember where you end, and your character begins. In my intensive training I was never taught how to tear apart the seams, to separate, to let go, to get out of the character and back in to myself and only myself. I find the omission of this additional training to “fall out of character” fascinating since the ability to let go of a character is part of being able to get another job. So, why wasn’t I taught that? I have my theories!

These physiological concussions are creating repercussions on actors and the society they help mold. The ability to go in and out of a belief system or physical world of one character and into the belief system of another is powerful, playful and at times dangerous. It can be noted in Jim Carey’s documentary, Health Ledger’s experience playing the Joker and Denzel Washington’s journey in Fences to name a few. We should suspect there are countless others if we all dared to look, or they dared to tell. With such a negative social stigma on mental illness it is not safe in the world of acting to admit such a thing, a mental weakness of losing the ability to identify self from character. Perhaps we would train our actors to be better equipped for the life of an actor if we can accept the risks of the business and the management of rewards from success. Leaving yourself open and vulnerable to people in the business, as well as the embodied characters, is dangerous and steps should be made to be more honest with this truth. Perhaps at the very least offer early counsel to parents and talented young souls of where a career in acting can lead.
Much like football we all watch the entertainment with little or no concern for the players. If we cared too much the game lose its luster. As a culture we would have look for another option of entertainment which may not be hard to do however, it would still require a shift in culture. We are starting to hear the desperate concerns from players and their families regarding the long-term ailments from early and repeated concussions. It was only recently that the football world mentioned this and yet it was a known issue, but they would just put the players back on the field until it was publicly addressed.
I love acting and have decided to teach it even though I feel my career as an actor was demonstrative and toxic to my life. I was greatly affected by the psychological concussions caused by acting and they were a heavy burden. They not only impacted many aspects of my life but those of my husband and children as well. The burden was so much to bare and the continual negative outcomes from the concussions created an environment so toxic that I couldn’t maintain a healthy and fulfilling work-life balance. I decided to leave the profession and focus all my love and compassion to raising my children. As my children have grown and their independence has matured I found myself with an opportunity to return to acting which lead to teaching acting.
To part surprise and part dismay I returned only to be haunted by the ghost of the characters I had embodied. Sometimes they are helpful by giving me skills I had yet to learn and other times, because I was a method actor, they put my whole family and everything we had built on the chopping block. How could this be happening even after taking a ten-year long hiatus from the profession? I have pondered this for quite some time and believe it is because of the way I was trained to set up a story for the character and how to format the character. The format demands the character be present in my own life. It parallels a bad habit, an addiction, that now becomes something you must contend with in your own life.
I found myself captivated with the practice of acting and the aspect of movement. I began to create my own concept of training that keeps the acting skills at the forefront of character development but also provides guidance on returning the actor back to neutral- home again, to fully self-identify and unstitch the seam they created to embody their character of choice. My concept is successful and yet my concept creates a dilemma. It is contradictory to the training that many other teachers in my department implement. They rely on the same techniques I was subjected to in my formative years to get the actors to tap in to a very personal place to format a character, yet they do not intend or advise them on the absolute necessity to peel that character away when they are through with the act.
Another challenge I am currently facing is where, do we as teachers, draw the line of acceptable behavior from an actor who has failed to disembody a character? A male student acted out a scene where he portrayed an abusive lover. This actor himself is believed to have attacked a fellow actress at the school. The actress had to leave because of the trauma from the alleged attack. The faculty is aware of the attack and has opted to allow such behavior to happen in the name of artistic expression. Failing to distinguish a realistic attack versus one that was allegedly performed under guise of acting. They can’t seem to distinguish the actor from the character because their belief in the formation of a character doesn’t require such separation.
Parents should question the use of their money being spent on such practices? Are we as teachers at any point obligated to nurture character formation yet also teach the limit of the actions of a character? I have brought my concerns to the school faculty, but the consensus is that no action is required on behalf of the school. I hypothesize that the concepts they rely on to train actors use pain as talent and they refuse to try and find another way to format characters. The issue is that the actors must KNOW THYSELF-know home, self-identify and even more so be taught to know themselves as to create a more defined boundary between them and the character.
Many actors enjoy acting for the opposite reason, it keeps them away from self. If they wear a mask, then there is somewhere to hide physically and emotionally all the while never creating the environment to mature in to their own personal selves. My concept of training teaches the actors to be whole people who have healed their own anger by learning how to get out of character. Know who they are and recognize the natural paths of their own personal maturity. Understand that they are powerful and must respect their abilities or they will become part of the problem. An open and willing actor can find themselves being used and manipulated emotionally without any concern for what they are enduring. Thus, subjecting themselves and those around them to the emotional and psychological concussions from acting. They return to other players in the profession such as agents and managers who don’t delve in to the intentions or practices of the director nor care to, if the actor is getting roles and providing a profit regardless of what those roles represent and the concussions that they are likely to cause.

Kitchen

Letting go of… the Male Gaze

No Home for the Feminine

About a year and a half ago I learned I wanted to hang out with ONLY WOMEN-

– I was working on a play about the intense relationship between Bettie Page and Bunny Yeager and I started to feel that they used their sexuality to get ahead and in that I realized they were quite cruel to themselves and others and maybe I was too.

The Male Gaze revealed itself to me and I wanted to explore the impact it had on my life. How was a using and being used by the Male Gaze

The question was where in my life can I be go to AVOID IT?

I wanted to know the value of speaking directly to a group of women.

I considered FACEBOOK-

I spent a day removing 500 men from my facebook page, including my husband and what I found was that over the course of the year I was able to be more sincere in my videos…without placing the air of Secuality on what I was doing…in order to give it value…( something I didn’t realize I have always done)

I found that most of my life I have used my sexuality as a crutch or a sword to gain position and now speaking to women..I began to see who I was without that GAZE- without the need to implore my sexual energy to gain attention.

My facebook videos become super honest and direct and I started to see a softer version of Susie in the public eye and it was refreshing and freeing.

This understanding that I was powered and empowered through the MALE GAZE led me on a personal journey to unplug form it in every way and to every degree I could without sacrificing my authentic self.

IT took a year but I believe I have explored a life without the gaze and the detox of being without it and the joy of knowing the addiction of it and the calmness of not needing it or wanting it as I know it is a doorway to a path I have fully explored.

I yearn for newness in my life now-

S

Kitchen

Letting go of … PERFORMING

Me Myself and I
I studied acting in school since I was in 5th grade. I loved it. Learning how to become another person was fascinating to me and I became an expert at it.

The reason I am not going to “perform” ever again is that it is based on lying and deception. A tool that has allowed me to grow OFF my center. Off my Authentic point.

Learning to become another person to the best of your abilities is freeing as it allows you to look back on your OWN character with new perspective. THe issue is when you PLAY the CHaracter so long that you have forgotten which is the real YOU- the real authentic self.

Charge is powerful- wether it comes from applause or likes or money- It helps you feel like you are alive. THe problem is that sometimes that charge is plugged into the wrong outlet – not LOVE – but rather PAIN- FEAR- SEX- and you are simply creating a FALSE version of yourself.

The healing art of acting -when used to let go of characters rather than add characters is a beautiful tool for me- a process I enjoy sharing with people who desire to KNOW THEMSLEVES FULLY AS WELL.