Saturday, 14 March 2015

moral hazards

the importance of emotional detox

Today is the day where I finally appreciated the importance of emotional detox. 

As an actor, you will soon realize that the power of theatre comes from the actor; the truth of the performance comes from the actor being alive and the depths of her humanity. This means that the actor puts herself at risk, in front of strangers, by showing her vulnerability. 

Today, I finally hit an artistic breakthrough and had a great leap forward as an actor in which I was able to fully experience the emotional trajectory of my character. Without giving away to the plot, my character is described as "someone who doesn't know what his limits are and pushed himself to the point of depression." With that being said, it's a dangerous path to travel down. Immediately, we can think about Heath Ledger and his work as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Or we can even think about how Dakota Johnson was just a naked girl shackled by chains with a guy looming over her when the scene ended in 50 Shades of Grey. There are examples of actors who completely lost it because of their commitment to their role, and it's a very scary thing. During today's rehearsal, I felt completely raw and emotionally dirty like, to put in bluntly, being fucked hard in the worst way possible. It really brought me to a dark place where I accessed memories of things I would rather lock away. 

My director talks about the importance of emotional hygiene - an actor needs to have good mental health lest the character's issues bleeds into his own and affects his own life. The character's issues are his own and the actor's issues are her own. There needs to be this explicit distinction. This was very salient to me; I managed to bring myself back after the first run but going through the emotional roller-coaster the second time consecutively took such an emotional toil to me.After the second time, I could feel the ghosts lingering and I felt so dirty and raw and completely discombobulated. I thought to myself, I raised the stake emotionally in the play and made a breakthrough as an actress but at what cost? 

Thinking about how the show is a week away, to be honest, freaks me out a little. It's set in a black box in a theatre in the round. This means to say that the setting is extremely intimate. To show a whole bunch of strangers this side of me is extremely nerve wrecking. As someone who tries to be as professional as possible, this is a moral hazard I must take in stride but I don't have the expertise or the actor training to deal with this in the best way. 

I spent the rest of the day lost in my own mind. When night fell, I couldn't take it anymore so I went for a run. I usually struggle to run the entire course without feeling this compulsion to give up, but somehow today I needed it so badly to the point where I just kept going until I didn't realise I actually finished my route. I know Dakota Johnson drinks wine and takes a long bath after her scenes, and yeah, it does help. I had a nice, warm cup of Milo with good company and I am enjoying a glass of wine as I write this. 

I know it's natural to be scared and there's a part of me that wishes that nobody I know would attend so strangers can just watch and forget about me by the next week or so. I look at the remnants of my visible scars and I honestly question myself, how far can I take this? 

I don't really know how to articulate this situation at hand but it certainly calls to mind, Ingrid Bergman's Persona (1966) Alma's Confessions. So here it is; to understand what it is like to bare your own demons to the world. 

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