Tag: letting go of fake

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

Hello…Content

Hello Content-

It feels like getting a massage but a soft tissue one where Nothing feels like it is happening.

That is what CONTENT- feel like…and FLOW is that with a soft wind at my back…

It is a flow state and it is hard to manage IF you don’t respect it. Honor it…

It has taken me a while to simply enjoy the GO WITH THE FLOW but this past summer I became aware of what it feels like, who challenges it in my life and what I do to Sabotage it and why.

Let me walk through it using the SURF process
Four steps that are taken if desired softly.

S- I am in flow- the world is providing me with everything I need at every moment
U- I understand that being micro managed in other peoples homes is tough and makes me want to have my OWN vacation home- something to grab onto-
A fellow actor offers me a role in a film he is doing about an unhappy wife who brow beats her husband and I take it without a thought. Jump at it- FAST and WITHOUT CONSIDERATION…a high comes over me and a feeling of aggression towards anything that is FLOW or building or helping comes over me..I instantly have NO patience for being KIND and I get angry and sad…
R- I think about the feeling and walk around it and quiet it…and then the guy in the film backs out and I slowly think about it and back out as well and then this cool peaceful feeling—saying NOT to acting like a jerk in someone else’s story.
F- THe wind is bare able again and I smile at my mom and my husband and my family and I am content…

Kitchen

EMOTIONAL TRAUMA

Having an injury- be it physical or emotional requires rehab and rest. It may even require switching movements or thought processes so as not to reinjure a sensitive JOINT or Sense Memory.

Sense Memory is what actors can use to recall a feeling in order to conjure up an emotion. It was introduced through several American teachers in the early 19th century.

But much like exercises that have been shown to agrivate more than heal or strengthen I believe the same is true with this approach.

The actors who use this method of tapping in to their own personal story open themselves up to becoming the TOOL themselves. Rather than the Classical approach which it to IMAGINE yourself in that world.

This internal approach of using YOURSELF as the PAINT the CANVAS the everything lines one up to tend to NOT heal their own pain.

They are softly guided in the acting world to USE IT. THus is something happens one may BANK IT…burry it…and in a way smile at another tool they have but

The follow through it that the person themselves become the victim. THey become NOT the artist they become more the material…as well and eventually this I believe is why many actors find themselves with unsealed trauma which lead to mental illness.

IT is unsaid but in my class in 7th grade we all stood up to tell a story. The one with the worst story won. See.

WHen I returned to London to see a fellow actress I trained it Star off the WEst End I realized that they too have converted to the AMERICAN approach to acting but in the end
It is brutal and emotionally damaging and I feel by watching and paying for this trip of ENTERTAINMENT we have to understand that there is no REHAB going on…
NO one is rushing to these actors backstage and walking them OUT of the role… They have to figure it out themselves and that is a hard task bring that many of them aren’t even aware they got stuck in the Matrix to begin with…

I believe the clapping it what wakes us up—end of the play – it severs like a SLAP that is meant to shock…but truly——the actors need to be aware that like foot ball playing they are undergoing emotional concussions and the more they use their OWN pain the more severe the injury is and over time it will and could cut their lives off-

Being empathetic is an amazing skill actors have…being too willing to bleed for real is going too far..

I tried to adjust this during my time at New York Film Academy but in the end the whol industry that is currently teaching is based on PAIN as ART…so I decided to step away and speak from this mountain top.

IT is an issue. No one is talking about it. No one is warning a person with severe emotional pain NOT to play like minded roles…no one is teaching actors how to GET OUT OF CHARATER…and the only one really addressing this MASSIVE issue with Becoming the role…regardless of whose well you tap….yours or a spirits is Jim Carrey…He saw it…we are who we believe we are…and that my dear ones is why your mind is so important to know and love and respect and treat kindly.

PEacE and LOVE

Kitchen

Letting go of….my Implants

The producer and star of the next play I was going to be in, cornered me in my tiny kitchen in my NYC apartment and looked at me and said…” The Director is concerned about your breasts.”

He had just gotten a full view of them that evening while I was portraying Helen of Troy and protesting who couldn’t want “these” and pulled my top down.

I was closing the role of Helen of Troy so looking back probably more HELEN Than Susie When I heard this NOTE and Both Susie’s drive and Helen’s passion became determined to FIX the problem.

I went home to Miami and went to a doctor. He suggested a lift but I didn’t want scars
( ya know topless scenes and all) and so I said what are my options and there you have it..I got my boobs. I always loved big boobs but honestly the moment I saw them on me I knew they weren’t mine but my mom told me to wait it out..I did..some 18 years)

I ended up NEVER returning to NYC after the surgery…

Instead I ended up getting married and having kids

( THANK GOODNESS- if I would get bibs ha I mean BOOBS for a role what else was a capable of doing for a part?)

The boobs served me well in Miami and I learned to love them and use them to the best of my abilities until after the second kid was 11 I realized I Have fully and truly waited it out…and I was finished being the SEXY SUSIE – I wanted something else and thus these BOOBS they had to go.

It took a while to find the right Doctor that would allow me to process out the way I needed. From a draining of the saline to the explanation to the lift. ( she is still convinced I won’t be happy and will return in a year for the implants because she knows how many other women can’t go the long hall without the power of thos boobies…a fix that once you experience you KNOW what your are REALLY missing out on )

BUt since MY boob explanation was part of a fuller journey of self it has a platform to rest on. I have other desires that demand NOT FAKE anything and in that I have become super content with my tiny ta tas- they are not in the way and allow me to move through the world without too much MALE GAZE from men and WOMEN…

That song Tits and Ass is TRUE- 100% and I am happy I found it out myself and was able to undue it for myself as well.