Tag Archives: fear

12 Oct

…I have to think of something else.

My brain has been full of horrible thoughts for far, far too long. It has consumed me entirely. It has stripped me of everything from joy, to my health, to my dignity. And with nothing else to lose, (except, of course there is,  and when you’re me and my brain, we can even itemize them out for you…alphabetically, if you so choose) I sit here in between hour two of what will be a lot more, running lines tubed into my left ear, via my phone headset…during work, with the still dark thoughts absorbing me where they should be concentrating on lines I’ve had to relearn so many times now, that I can’t remember the count.
I’ve failed at a lot of things in life, but this was always the one thing I could count on to be solid. 

Art. 

Theatre.

I’ve always worked my damn ass of to assure that no matter what, I am prepared. I am professional. I am solid. Because I have no other self-identity other then being an actor. It’s what I am. It’s what I do. It’s my purpose. And now it’s failing me too. Or rather, I’m failing it. 

A lot terrifies me. But my “purpose” leaving me, is now officially taking the damn cake. I couldn’t try grasping frantically for some shred of recognition or safety more, if my life depended on it. And it feels very much like it does. Couldn’t pray harder. Couldn’t lose more sleep, push more, plead more, cry more, melt down more. I couldn’t lose more dignity if  every bodily fluid expelled at once, on stage vs the humiliation I put myself through, at last night’s rehearsal.

…Absolutely zero control.

Despite an extremely understanding and totally supportive team, I can’t help but see the inevitable trajectory this shit-fest is taking, and my total inability to stop it…despite all major efforts I am attempting to negate it.

I just closed “Dark” on Sunday, and “Blithe” opens in 8 days. I have never struggled like this for the most basic requirements of doing the job I need to do, on that stage. Never mind the character, I can’t even get grasp on the fucking text. What should be a light and airy word-play of epically brilliant double-entendres, and bitch-bitey exuberance, is a nightmare of impossible-to-recall word specifics that no one uses outside of a Mensa meeting, and broken record of Agatha Christie repetition-hell, of saying the same thing, slightly different and more catty, 13 times, in 15 different monologues, without rest.

Am still very broken from the last show, all but shattered before we’ve even opened this one. And for the first time I am really and truly actually questioning my ability to do this anymore. 

…And if I can’t. What in the flying fuck has it even all been about?

I’m trying to open a show in the middle of my biggest fucking mental breakdown since I’d been diagnosed, in 2009.

… I have to think of something else.

~D

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Exercising Demons

18 Nov

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Sometimes Actors like to go a little suicidal and play really close to the edge of the cliff. 

…In other words, they will take something that has huge personal relevancy, connotation and emotional cost, and exploit it for artistic means…which is a brave, twisted, painful….and some would say, “sick” thing to do.  But it is how people connect with truth. 

Being naked means a lot more than just taking your clothes off. 

…The most naked I’ve even been in my life, had me in three layers of 1940’s clothes, sporting a Dutch accent.  Clearly that wasn’t “me” up on that stage.  Clearly I had plenty of things to “hide behind” in the voice and look and age that I was portraying. But, because the story content was so very personal to me…because the character I was playing was a real person, whom I had studied and knew from my childhood…because the themes and History of it had helped to form me so much as a reader and artist, and human…the role had wormed its way to my innermost guts, weaving a special new fiber of marriage with not just my mind’s creative sector, but key emotional centers, and physical expressions. 

It quite frankly took me over. 

…Not all at once.  But at some point, every night, I would lose myself it it fully, without even being conscious of it…and the only point that realization would kick in would be at the shows end, when I’d sorta wake with a start, to the audience beginning to applaud our work.

…It’s the furthest I’ve ever been, the most raw I’ve ever felt, the most emotionally draining thing I’ve ever experienced, by far…on any stage.  And though you learn so much as a person, as an Artist, when roles like that (few and far between) come along…it is still a terrifying aspect of what we do, for everyone who is willing to travel that journey. 

…Fighting your personal demons in public is as naked as you will ever get, my friends.  And agreeing to it, embracing it, and not holding back, is riding that suicidal cliff edge, where some people can’t handle the mind-games it pulls on you, the nightmares it brings, the depressions that it can usher in, the sleepless nights, and obsessive pushing to places you have purposely left behind closed doors, to grow thick with dust and cobwebs and never be seen or heard from again.

Yesterday, I walked down the corridors and unlocked one of those doors, letting out not just vacant dustballs and “remember whens,” but a whole fucking Pandora’s box of shit. 

I knew it would happen. 

And I did it willingly. 

…And it actually mentally, emotionally and physically altered me for the remainder of the day, and well into performance last night.  An inconvenience when you have another show to do, and another character with other traits placed entirely where your head isn’t, and won’t be, due to the cost of being naked on a stage several hours earlier.

Callbacks were yesterday, just before our performance.

…With one hour and fifteen minutes buffer, a group of us, talked and ate and joked and tried to redirect our brains to better places in order to prep for this other thing we were soon needing to do. But on the inside, several of us who had vomited all to-real emotions out on the stage less than two hours earlier, were play-acting our way now through “life” because we were actually in no way prepared to merely dust off the age and disgust of the long locked rooms we had opened in our private-most inner sanctums. 

…In fact the room was so overwhelming before even barely crossing the threshold that it took two scene reads before I could calm myself down enough emotionally to USE the feelings instead of letting them completely overwhelm me.  I felt swarmed.  My body actually physically shook beyond my own control.  I had to concentrate so hard on the words to get them out with the proper amount of emotion and not the sea of it that I was feeling, that the poor bastards I read with had little help in their own work, from my direction. 

…But in time, I was able to wrangle my grasp onto it.  Could get on the back of it, as it thrashed around, and manage to stay on, and stay focused and stay with my scene partners.  And though it was only several passes at four scenes…neither of them the big emotional reveal and peak that the script eventually rises to…just knowing it was there…that the words I was speaking were in defence of this unspoken thing…that every line had a double meaning, later to ruin and/or alter people’s lives forever…and knowing that I once knew and fought that battle too…was a palpable thing. 

Exercising a personal demon.  Being brave enough after all these years to walk up to it, getting grip of it’s mane, and swing onto it’s back with determination that this time…this time, I am the boss of it, and I will use it to my own devices and needs…

…Because I have EARNED this moment. 

I’m done living in a house with another door I’m too scared to open.  Of course there are other attics and basements filled with personal fears and painful memories, too.  But yesterday, I decided this one won’t be among them anymore. 

…I may or may not be given the opportunity to air it for an entire audience.  Casting calls are still yet to be made.  But even if I don’t…for a day, in front of more strangers than friends…I faced that certain beast.  Which is more than I’ve done since the day I first locked it away.  And the sizable personal victory…followed by slightly sickening after-shock once coming down from the adrenaline rush, was worth it.

If not on stage, then in some other way…I’m ready to get this shit taken care of.

…And it feels horrible, gut-wrenching, good.

…And if you’re an Artist of anything…you totally know exactly what that means.

~D

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